1 Timothy 2:1-2 says “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” This applies to all rulers, no matter how controversial their policies may seem. In the era of the pandemic, it is especially important to remember this advice. No matter how hated a politician may be, it is our duty as Christians to pray for them.
Many were annoyed when Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York declared that airlines needed to engage in enhanced screening procedures for travelers from the United Kingdom in light of the new COVID-19 strain that has been detected. Governor Cuomo announced this week that British Airways, Delta and Virgin Atlantic had all volunteered to test travelers from the United Kingdom that were coming into New York for COVID-19, however, he expressed a warning:
“Yes, the people who now fly into New York will be negative, but we’ll have flights into Chicago, we’ll have flights into other parts of the country, and then those people can get on flights and come back to New York or infect other states.” 
Governor Cuomo recently suffered a political slap in the face for the COVID-19 restrictions he had placed on the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and two Orthodox Jewish congregations when the Supreme Court ruled against his policies in the case of Agudath Israel v. Cuomo. 
If anyone has become a controversial figure for their pandemic policies, it is the embattled New York governor. He and his administration have become emblematic of heavy-handed government action since the start of the pandemic last March. He was also widely blamed for being the cause of an excess number of COVID-19 deaths in the elderly due to his misguided policy of sending potentially infectious COVID-19 patients back to nursing homes to free up hospital beds. 
In the same way, Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer has also become widely reviled for her harsh policies. She has become so thoroughly hated that it was no surprise when several extremists were arrested for their plot to kidnap and hold her hostage.  Governor Whitmer has also had a terrible year which has included nooses being hung outside the capitol building, armed protesters chanting death threats, and bumper stickers calling her a tyrant. 
Certainly, some of the politicians who have expanded their powers during the pandemic have done so out of a desire to become petty dictators. However, there have also been many who were likely acting in good faith in an attempt to keep the public safe at a time when there was little information and a great deal of panic.
Although defending liberty is always a critical concern, lest we become what we seek to destroy, it is important for the defense of liberty to be done without unnecessary cruelty and violence. As Psalm 11:5 says: “The Lord examines the righteous but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion.”
It is important for Christians to remember to pray for politicians, even if those politicians restrict their religious liberties. This is specifically addressed in Matthew 5:44 when Jesus Christ tells his followers: “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” In this season of renewal, let us pray for those who have wronged us, even as we seek to defend our right to exercise our faith.
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 “New COVID Strain Concerns: Gov. Cuomo Says British Airways, Delta, Virgin Atlantic To Screen Passengers From U.K. Headed To New York,” CBS (December 21, 2020), https://newyork.cbslocal.com/2020/12/21/cuomo-calls-for-u-k-travel-ban-says-british-airways-will-screen-passengers-headed-to-new-york/
 Lawrence Hurley & Humeyra Pamuk, “Cuomo calls U.S. Supreme Court's religious gatherings ruling 'irrelevant',” Reuters (November 25, 2020), https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa-court/cuomo-calls-u-s-supreme-courts-religious-gatherings-ruling-irrelevant-idUSKBN2860CK
 Joe Guillen & Darcie Moran “Michigan AG details extremist plot to kidnap Gov. Whitmer, including plan to burn Capitol building,” USAToday (November 13, 2020), https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/11/13/michigan-attorney-general-office-gretchen-whitmer-plot-details/6269455002/
 Ron French, “Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s year: Nooses, beheadings and shouts of tyranny,” Bridge Michigan (October 8, 2020), https://www.bridgemi.com/michigan-government/gov-gretchen-whitmers-year-nooses-beheadings-and-shouts-tyranny
 Michelle Andrews, “Is Cuomo Directive to Blame for Nursing Home COVID Deaths, as US Official Claims?” KHN (August, 2020), https://khn.org/news/is-cuomo-directive-to-blame-for-nursing-home-covid-deaths-as-us-official-claims/