A clip of the incident, which has clocked up more than 560,000 views at the time of writing, shows the parish pastor, Fr. Paul Brunet, ordering a man at the front of the congregation to “leave this church right now,” accusing him of “trespassing,” and calling for security. The footage was apparently filmed on Sunday at St. Frances Cabrini Parish Church in Lakewood.
The man is seen striding up to the altar, denying he is “a trespasser in this church,” briefly turning to face the camera, and ordering an unseen person to “keep your hands off me.”
Several other men make a beeline for the “intruder,” who again demands they “keep their hands off [him]” and refuses to leave.
After some pushing and shoving, in which at least one man is knocked to the ground, a crowd rushes to the altar to help dispose of the trespasser, carrying him bodily out of the church. The priest can be heard asking someone to dial 911.
Washington state requires masks to be worn by everyone aged five years or over in public indoor settings – a category that includes churches. The vaccinated are not exempt from the requirement.
However, a closer look at the video reveals several other participants of the brawl not wearing masks either, so it’s unclear what triggered the call for the interloper to be removed in the first place.
Churches have been hotspots for Covid-19-related clashes in the US due to the First Amendment, which, theoretically, protects freedom of religion. However, most media coverage has focused on congregations that oppose the imposition of virus-related mandates such as mask requirements.
However, the US is not alone – Church and State have also found themselves at odds over Covid-19 restrictions in Canada and Australia, among other countries.
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