Pastor Paul Van Noy, leader of Candlelight Christian Fellowship in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, likes to refer to himself as a “no masker.” That’s because he believes face coverings don’t do much good in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Van Noy has even prayed with his congregation against a local mask ordinance.
In July, the pastor wrote on Facebook that “it has been clearly and scientifically proven that many masks do not aid in the prevention of COVID-19 transmission. I have said here at Candlelight, ‘If a person wants to wear a mask they should be allowed to do so. However, if they don’t, that’s okay too.’”
The pastor’s first point is not entirely accurate. While masks with valves have been problematic, there is ample research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing the masks do protect against the coronavirus. Likewise, it’s been tested that masks do not lower a person’s oxygen levels, despite what anti-maskers claim. Even President Trump has come around to say that wearing masks are patriotic.
Pastor Paul, however, is unmoved. “One additional thought for those who are believers in Jesus,” he wrote on Facebook. “There is no need to fear the cause or effect of COVID-19.”
Sadly, Pastor Van Noy has contracted COVID-19 and has been in a hospital ICU for over two weeks. An update on the church website posted earlier this week said that Van Noy is “starting to turn the corner,” but that he was still on oxygen support.
“I am a no-masker, personally,” Van Noy told his followers in a July sermon. “I don’t want to be told I have to wear a mask. We’re adults and we don’t need the government to tell us what to do.”
According to NBC News, Van Noy told his congregants in a Facebook post that they did not have to comply with a Kootenai County mask mandate. He said the church is a membership organization and not a “public” place, therefore it is not required to abide by the order.
“If you are still living in fear, don’t be,” Van Noy wrote on Facebook. “Open up your businesses, churches, and homes. Don’t fall for the lies any longer. If you fell for the lies this time, wake up and join the army of truth-seekers fighting on the front lines.”
Meanwhile, the pastor’s wife, Brenda, also has COVID. She wrote on Facebook that she hadn’t “taken this COVID seriously enough” and that she is “humbled.”
At least six other members of Pastor Van Noy’s church have tested positive for the coronavirus.