Brandon Lopez is a new Dad with new responsibilities to a growing family, his wife gave birth less than one year ago. Together with his little family, they have navigated all of the ups and downs of trying to start a new business, becoming parents for the first time, and finding their way through the changing tides of life during a historic Pandemic. On June 13, feeling somewhat liberated after the lifting of some pandemic restrictions by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, the little family rushed to church with expectations in their hearts of sharing their faith and finding peace from worship.
However, once there, the Lopez family was hounded by church staff for not wearing their face coverings properly, and they left feeling frustrated.
What Lopez reports he was told that day by a police officer added so much sadness to their lives that it left his wife in tears for an extended period. Not hard to do to a woman who has been through childbirth, dramatic changes to the society in which she is to raise a child, and after seeing her business efforts shut down over and over again because of COVID- and then denied the opportunity to find a peaceful moment in her religious observations. This is a story of what appears to be a violation of the Freedom to Worship.
The Lopez family were just trying to practice their faith quietly that day, and they left broken-hearted and feeling despondent. On June 14, I received a statement from Mr. Lopez.
ACCORDING TO LOPEZ:
“Yesterday morning, my wife, son, and I visited St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Fort Lauderdale for the weekend mass service. Upon arrival, I was greeted at the door by a middle-aged Caucasian woman who inquired if we had masks. We indicated that we did not. She then gave us masks and proceeded to instruct us that we HAD to put the masks on. We proceeded to accept the masks and went on to a socially distant location in the back of the church.
Another Caucasian woman, by the name of Christine, seeing we did have our masks on our face, but not over our mouths, came over and demanded that we put our masks over our mouths. We put the masks over our mouths, and Christine persisted that we put our masks over both our nose and mouth. By this time, we indicated multiple times to her that we respectfully decline at this time. We loosely covered our face, so as to not draw too much attention from the solemnity of the mass, and to respect the surrounding parishioners.
During mass, my mask had fallen below my nose, and again, I was approached by the woman who first gave me the mask and Christine, only, this time they had a uniformed Fort Lauderdale PD officer with them who had proceeded to tell me that the church was a private business, and they are able to have me forcefully removed for noncompliance if I am not willing to comply with their mask mandate. They claimed that the mask mandate is from the Archdiocese of Miami. They stated that they are subject to their rules and are required to comply. The officer stated that if I would not accept my removal when asked to leave, due to a failure to wear the face mask that they provided, I would be arrested for trespassing, as the women were acting on behalf of the church and had name tags.
My wife, needless to say, was very upset and could not believe the experience happened that way. My wife heard Christine mutter that we were “disgusting” for not wanting to wear a mask while walking past us. They told me to think of others than ourselves and said it was “disrespectful” for us to refuse to wear masks. As a lifelong Catholic, I am very disappointed that our rights were violated in a country with the freedom to worship freely. The church is God’s house, not theirs. We have always known the church to be a place in which, “all are welcomed”. Unfortunately, today, that was not the case. You are only welcomed if you comply with their orders. We were blatantly harassed and intimidated over not complying with the mandate to wear a mask during mass by the staff, and subsequently, by the officer who they had needlessly involved in the situation.
When mass had ended, I seeked the officer and indicated that I wanted to file a complaint. He indicated that this is not a state matter, as such, he would not be able to accept a complaint. He indicated that it is a federal matter and that I should seek the FBI to file a complaint. The officer indicated, in order to make this case a state matter, I would have to be arrested for trespassing. This obviously, is a less than pleasant experience, especially with a 10 month old son. He indicated, “As the law is written, the church can require us to wear masks for 25+ years if that is their prerogative.” It is at this point I thanked the officer for the civil discussion and wished him a good day. My wife and child were outside in the very intense South Florida heat and I did not want them to stand for too long.
I fear for the direction of the country and for my child’s future if this is the treatment people are receiving. “Comply or else” needs to end. There are further details to this and we should discuss further.”
I did contact St. Anthony’s Catholic Church, who refrained from making any statement other than there are signs clearly posted all over the church saying masks are required and then referring me to the Archdiocese of Miami.
I did contact the Archdiocese office and was calls were not returned. I also contacted the Communications department for the police department and my calls were not returned. Lopez recalls specifically from the incident that he was told by the officer that the church could demand masking for over 25 years. Recent news appears to confirm that such a thing is being said by powerful people.
CONSIDER THIS- LOPEZ WAS RIGHT TO WORRY
“Don’t think for a minute that masks and social distancing policies are outdated or even relaxed. They are here to stay and the UN’s propaganda machine will continue to sound the alarm to force nations into compliance. Without the application of force by national governments, citizens would totally ignore the UN. ⁃ TN EditorAnd he is right to worry according to Technocracy News who reported recently on the World Health Organization (WHO) comments about masking for a long period of time :
A top WHO official says that mask mandates and social distancing should continue indefinitely in order to protect against new variants of COVID-19.
The comments were made on Sky News by Special Envoy on Covid for the World Health Organisation (WHO). Dr David Nabarro.
Nabarro suggested that there would be a long list of mutations of the Indian variant which would in some cases evade the protection offered by vaccines.
“We will go from Delta to Lambda and then on to the other Greek letters, that’s inevitable, and some of these variants will be troublesome,” he said.
“I’m basically saying variants are going to go on coming. That’s part of life, we need to pick them up fast, we need to move quickly if we see them in a certain location, we need to build the management of variants into what we call our Covid-ready strategy, which is going to be the pattern for the foreseeable future,” he added.
According to Nabarro, mask mandates and social distancing need to remain in place for the foreseeable future “as part of our defence” against COVID, particularly in regions which have high infection rates.
As we highlighted earlier, England is set to drop all face mask rules on July 19 after it was revealed that they were having a massive negative impact on businesses and wiping billions off the economy.
Several government advisers have called for coronavirus restrictions to continue forever, not just to defend against COVID, but also to fight influenza.
Former Communist Party member and SAGE adviser Susan Michie said earlier this month that mask mandates and social distancing should continue “forever” and that people should adopt such behaviour just as they did with wearing seatbelts.
It never ends.”
The Lopez family deserves to worship in America, in peace. Hopefully, the people who are guardians of the church space will learn some better ways of dealing with peaceful Americans, going to spend some quiet moments in worship with their community.
Chruch is essential for people of faith, especially new parents.
Somehow we have to do better than sending these lovely, peaceful and hard-working new parents out into the world more broken after church, than when they went in.
Kari is an ex-Community Organizer who writes about Cultural Marxism, grassroots activism, music, IndyCar racing and political campaigns. @Saorsa1776