Pastor Who Eschewed Mask Order Hospitalized with COVID

An Idaho pastor who told his congregation that they were not required to wear masks at his services despite a government mandate has been in intensive care since Sept. 2 with coronavirus disease-19, his church said on its website.

Pastor Paul Van Noy said Monday that he was “starting to turn the corner – for the better” and that his wife Brenda, who also had contracted the respiratory affliction, was “well on her way to full recovery.”

Van Noy wrote he still required “oxygen support,” but was expected to be transferred to a regular room at Kootenai Health within a few days and then complete his recovery at home.

He said he asked his staff at the Candlelight Christian Fellowship in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, to shut down the church on Aug. 13, and that the congregation resumed worship services this past Sunday.

The Panhandle Health District ordered a mask mandate for Kootenai County in July, but Van Noy wrote on Candlelight’s Facebook page on July 24 that the church was not covered by the requirement since it was not a private membership organization and therefore not “open to the public.”

“We at Candlelight are exercising our freedom, and the right to allow you as members, to come into the facilities without the obligation to observe the Panhandle Health District ‘order,’” Van Voy wrote. “We are not suggesting you disobey your local, city, county, state, or federal laws. As your pastor I believe that would be sinful and wrong.”

“However, in this case, we can peacefully and biblically resist, without violation of the Godly standards we submit ourselves to. Therefore, if you chose to wear a mask, physically distance, etc. we support your freedom to do so. If you choose to refrain from wearing a mask, etc. we likewise support your decision.”

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