Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon, above, and Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail are being sued over over a Catholic school’s COVID-19 mask-wearing requirement because it allegedly violates the religious beliefs of two families.
The lawsuit, filed by the Great Lakes Justice Center and American Freedom Law Center on behalf of parents Christopher Mianecki and Stephanie Smith says:
In accordance with the teachings of the Catholic faith, Resurrection School believes that every human has dignity and is made in God’s image and likeness. Unfortunately, a mask shields our humanity. And because God created us in His image, we are masking that image.
According to this report, others being sued over school mask mandates are Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and Ingham County Prosecuting Attorney Carol Siemon.
The lawsuit says for “many individuals,” including the parents in both families, an “excessive” mask mandate is:
A symbol of oppression and an attempt by the government to control the citizenry.
Though the health department declined to comment on an active lawsuit, Vail, Gordon and other health officials and experts have repeatedly stressed the importance of wearing masks as a tool to help control the spread of COVID-19.
Resurrection School is an elementary school with students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Under orders issued by Gordon and Vail earlier this month, elementary school children must wear masks throughout the entire school day.
The mask mandates, according to the complaint:
Limit normalization, friendship, an enriching education and a healthy spiritual life. Methods that strive to promote safety but have a deleterious effect on a child’s social and emotional development do not promote the health and well-being of the whole child as Catholic social teaching strives to do.
Mask mandates across the state and in Ingham County violate families’ rights to freedom of religious exercise, freedom of speech, freedom of association, due process and equal protection, the lawsuit states.
Mandates that compel people like the Mianecki and Smith families to wear masks forces them to:
Convey a message with which they disagree even when socially distanced in private homes or nonpublic schools.
By wearing masks, the families:
Contribute to a false public statement that all people are in fact diseased.
Earlier this month it was reported by the Catholic News Service that a number of priests are fully supportive of mask mandates. One is Father Mark R Searles, a resident priest at St Thomas More Catholic Church in Allentown, Pennsylvania, a parish that enforces the face covering requirement for indoor worship.
I do understand why people don’t want to wear the masks. I don’t particularly like wearing one either.
It is something God is asking us to do right now to be safe on a very practical and physical level with an abundance of caution. A lot of doctors have said that’s the safest way to prevent the spread of disease right now.
Another priest, Fr Brian S Lewis, above, of St Jude the Apostle Catholic Church in Lewes, Delaware, made a video to emphasise the importance of masks. His sister-in- law crafted him one to look like a clerical collar.
I wear it proudly, not only for the shock value and because it’s funny. It also symbolizes something that should be on full display. Wearing the mask can be a spiritual work of mercy.
While I want heaven for everyone in my parish, I want it on God’s time. I don’t want to expose them to any unnecessary risk or imprudence on anyone else’s part.