Mask Controversy Hits Idaho. First Amendment in Jeopardy

 In Politics

Moscow, Idaho – The Moscow, Idaho council extended its mask requirement until January, in spite of the fact that the county has had no hospitalizations and no deaths from COVID-19. When a group of Christians from a local church went to the city hall parking lot to sing as a statement against that move on Wednesday last week, police were there to meet them. Five people were cited, the Republican candidate for Mayor – Gabriel Rench and two others were arrested.  The officers, the City Council  and the Mayor violated their oaths in a big way over a mask controversy.

Screenshot via Christian Post

About 150 peaceful protest participants were outside and didn’t wear masks. They sang 3 Psalms and the Doxology, then left.  The mask order states that they have to be worn inside and outside when social distancing is not possible. Instead of talking to people first, the police moved in and enforced the Mayor’s edict. It was the first such action since the order went into effect in July.

The church vowed to do it again on Saturday, Sept 26. This time, there were no arrests, no citations, and no interruptions. Saturday is not a “business” day for the Moscow City Hall, so there would not have been people around anyway. The police stated they wanted things to “cool off” from the mask controversy a few days before. The police need to stand away from this Mayor – he is damaging their image and their community.

Moscow Mayor’s hypocrisy – No Medical Emergency

A wedding was held recently in Moscow over which the Mayor presided. There were no masks at that event, nor was there any “social distancing.”

One of the pastors, DouglasWilson, of Christ Church wrote:

The first thing to note is that we had every legal and constitutional right to be there, and to do what we did. This was not an assembly of scofflaws. It really was a peaceful protest, a petition to our city government for a redress of grievances, and a religious assembly, all in one. Everything about it was proper. We sang three songs and the doxology, and then went home.

We took this step because of two very recent factors. The first and most obvious is that this last Monday night, our city council extended their masking mandate into January. This, despite the fact that our county, Latah County, has had zero hospitalizations, and there have been zero deaths. We are not facing a medical emergency here. This has become increasingly obvious to every unbiased observer as time has gone by. And despite the fact that there is no medical emergency here, our city council unanimously outlawed merry Christmas at the cash registers around town, requiring us instead to offer a muffled mmerrhr cccrrissmuh.

The second factor is that just a few weeks ago, there was an outdoor wedding here, presided over by our mayor. At least one of our council members was in attendance, as was law enforcement. Masks, however, were not in attendance. If there was no virus hazard at that wedding (and there was not), then there was no virus hazard at our psalm sing yesterday (as there was not). If anyone is interested in pursuing that issue, I understand that weddings frequently have photographers at them. I have seen evidence of just such a photographer. By having his police department enforce his order, our mayor is not enforcing an order that we don’t believe has merit, but which he does. No, not even close. He is enforcing an order that he does not believe in either.

So we have every right to protest the high hypocrisy involved in all of this. Not only so, but I believe we have a responsibility to do so. Having said that, I do want to mention that our protest was not conducted Portland style. The federal building is just a block away from city hall, and I can say that I was very proud of our people — not one of them tried to burn it down. Rather, we addressed this hypocritical and nonsensical law in a peaceful, orderly, law-abiding, and responsible way. 

Churches have been at the forefront of fights for the First Amendment all across the country since the pandemic began. California locked down their churches severely, and literally thousands of them have filed lawsuits. San Francisco Mayor London Breed even forbade more than one person attending  services at a time. (No joke – the DOJ even wrote a letter telling SF to stop violating the First Amendment). Mayor Breed responded that the DOJ’s letter was “careless legal threats.” Something severe needs to be done to get the attention of leaders who are violating the Constitution and don’t seem to care.

So the mask controversy and enforcement of unconstitutional rules has even come to Idaho, a normally conservative state.

Featured photo: screenshot via Idaho Statesman

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