4 Years of COVID: Why We Can Never Forget How Tyranny Almost Won

By Mat Staver Published on March 16, 2024

Four years ago, our nation embarked on what would become a constitutional crisis inaugurated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Little did we know that the “15 Days to Slow the Spread” announced on March 16, 2020, would turn into a three-year national public health emergency and years of draconian federal government overreach. While we’re past the height of the draconian measures employed during COVID authoritarianism, we’re still reeling from the damage done to our country. It’s tempting to move on and embrace the post-COVID “normalcy” we now enjoy, but it’s important we never forget the COVID tyranny we endured under the pandemic to ensure it never happens again.

The Many Faces of Freedom Killers

In the weeks and months that followed, churches, businesses, and schools closed their doors, jobs were lost, mandates were imposed, and citizens were masked. Seemingly overnight, Americans were forced to comply with nonsensical mandates from state and local governments and were gaslit and demonized for questioning the mainstream narrative.

Children as young as two were forced to wear masks over their mouths and noses that impaired their breathing. Hospitals were closed to any visitors, forcing family members to suffer and die alone.  

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The “we’re all in this together” mantra of 2020 quickly faded when “the vaccinated” were pitted against “the unvaccinated” once the COVID shot was introduced. Certain local governments began to demand that people “show their papers,” rejecting and marginalizing the unvaccinated for “noncompliance” with their unconstitutional edicts. (Think of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio offering the “Key to NYC” if, and only if, you were vaccinated.) 

De Blasio’s is but one of many examples in which powermongers traded common sense for confusion and control — unlike anything we’d experienced in our lifetimes. We’re still reeling from the damage done to our country and working to ensure that our freedoms are preserved, not only for future generations, but for the rest of our generation as well.

Pushing Back Against Unconstitutional Control

As a constitutional lawyer and an American who is passionate about advancing religious liberty, entering the COVID fight was not optional for me — it was essential. Keeping churches open is essential. Respecting every American’s sincerely held beliefs is essential. Free speech and the free exchange of ideas without fear of government recourse is essential. And all of this was under threat of being swept away during COVID if we didn’t take a stand. Countless Americans stood up against these attacks and refused to comply, and my law firm and others like it defended many of them.

Some states, like California, tried to shutter churches indefinitely, but bold pastors like Ché Ahn, senior pastor of Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena, defied Gov. Gavin Newsom’s unconstitutional demands … and Harvest Rock remained open for worship. He and his parishioners were threatened with criminal charges and incarceration, and we defended them for exercising their freedom of religion. This case resulted in a complete reversal of restrictions and a $1.35 million repayment of attorneys’ fees from the State of California to the church.

On the military front, we defended brave U.S. service members from the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard for refusing to get experimental mRNA COVID shots for religious reasons. We sued Joe Biden and the Department of Defense (DOD) for not accommodating them, and secured a preliminary injunction on behalf of the U.S. Marines. The DOD rescinded its COVID vaccine mandate, and after two years of litigation, subsequently, was forced to pay $1.8 million in attorneys’ fees.

And then there were the health care workers who were forced to choose between getting the COVID shot or losing their jobs. We settled the nation’s first class-wide lawsuit for health care workers on behalf of more than 500 current and former health care employees unlawfully denied religious exemptions from the COVID shot mandate. As a result, NorthShore University Health System was ordered to compensate them more than $10.3 million.

Here in 2024, we are not done fighting. In support of free speech, we just filed an amicus brief in Murthy v. Missouri, which will be heard at the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, March 18. This case holds the federal government accountable for its massive censorship campaign to coerce social media companies to censor the speech of countless Americans for opposing the mainstream COVID narrative.

Never Forget

What we learned from COVID is that some in government will exploit a crisis to seize our freedoms if they remain unchecked. And we know they will do this again if we allow it. That is why, four years later, we must never forget what they took from us in the name of “public health.” While Liberty Counsel is fully committed to being on the front lines, every American must stand firm for freedom as well.

Whatever form the next threat to freedom takes — whether global digital ID, central bank digital currency, “Disease X,” or some other existential threat to freedom not yet unveiled — I pray Americans learned enough from COVID to not throw their hands up in compliance when tyranny comes knocking at the door again. And it will come knocking.

The last time around, too many Americans conceded to government demands. The next time, there should be millions more who are all the wiser for understanding the threats to freedom we lived through under COVID, and who will respond differently.

President Ronald Reagan said it best: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”


Mat Staver is the founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel and chairman of Liberty Counsel Action.

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