Seth Udinski, FISM News
The battle between state-mandated COVID-19 restrictions and the freedom of religion heats up once again. Two incidences commenced last week in which law-abiding Americans attempting to exercise their innate right to worship freely were punished for expressing that right. The first involved a lawsuit from an arrest in the fall of 2020 of several worshipers in the city of Moscow, Idaho. Five individuals were arrested Christian worship event in September 2020 outside the Moscow City Hall for “violating” the city’s public health restrictions. How did they commit such a crime? They were singing, outdoors, without wearing masks. The individuals were released shortly thereafter and all charged were dropped.
Three of the five arrested individuals filed a lawsuit on March 25 against the city of Moscow: Gabriel Rench, and married couple Sean and Rachel Bohnet. The suit has not yet been acknowledge by city officials.
The other incident took place at a Catholic church in Texas this past Sunday. 28-year old Deirdre Hairston, a pregnant and nursing mother, was removed from the Holy Trinity Catholic Church’s Palm Sunday Mass and was issued a warning from local police. Her crime? She also refused to wear a mask. This second instance is especially troubling considering the physical difficulties that many pregnant and nursing mothers endure. Constantly wearing a mask is toilsome at best and can be detrimental to the respiratory health of a pregnant mom. Hairston was not arrested, but was threatened with arrest and accused of “trespassing on a business” from the police who arrived on scene.
According to Hairston, Holy Trinity’s parish priest is the one who made the call to law enforcement when he saw her without a mask. The Catholic Church does not require masks for its parishes, but leaves that decision to the judgement of each parish priest. If this particular priest did call the police, he was not violating Canon law. Instead, he would have severely mistreated his neighbor and a member of his parish, a young woman who is committed not only to his congregation, but also to bringing her children with her.