Friday, July 23, 2021

Michigan Catholic school lawsuit argues mask-wearing covers 'God's image and likeness'


A Catholic school in Michigan is suing the state arguing that the previous mask mandate violated religious liberty by covering 'God's image and likeness'.

The Resurrection School in Lansing filed their anti-mask lawsuit in October when Michigan required students and teachers wear masks. The mandate has since been dropped but the school's pastor, Rev. Steve Mattison, said they are taking it to appeals court to prevent the state re-instating the rule. 

On Wednesday, a federal appeals judge heard the Resurrection School's argument to outlaw mask mandates.

'Every human has dignity and is made in God's image and likeness,' the schools argued. 'Unfortunately, a mask shields our humanity.'  

The Resurrection School also claimed masks make people anti-social and interferes with Catholic instruction and practices, such as the act of asking for forgiveness, which it says requires face-to-face apology. 

'As the Catholic faith teaches, we are relational beings,' the suit reads. 'And our existence as relational beings points to the Holy Trinity. A mask is disruptive to this essential element of the Catholic faith, and it is disruptive to the teaching of young children for these and other reasons.' 

Additionally, two parents from the school who joined in the suit argue that their children have difficulty breathing while wearing masks.  

The Rev. Steve Mattson, pastor for the Church of the Resurrection argued that masks inhibit social interactions and disrupt learning.  

'Teaching is a relationship between individuals, and we know non-verbal interaction is very powerful,' he told WILX on Tuesday. 

He said there had been no reports of coronavirus transmission in the school despite students in kindergarten through fifth grade never wearing masks throughout the last school year, the station reported. 

The school first filed suit in October, when Michigan required students and teachers wear masks, and in December the school was denied a motion for a preliminary injunction to end enforcement of the state's mask mandate for private school students. It began an appeals process two days later, Washington Post reported. 

Michigan ended most of its Covid restrictions in June, and Ingham County Health officer Linda Veil argued in a response to the suit Monday that there are no plans to bring them back. 

Mattson, however, said he is skeptical.

It comes as the U.S. recorded 42,706 new cases on Tuesday with a seven-day rolling average of 37,056, which is a 244 percent increase from the 10,771 average recorded three weeks ago.

Every state aside from Iowa has seen infections rise or hold steady in the last week, according to a analysis of Johns Hopkins data.

Additionally, 298 COVID-19 deaths were recorded on Tuesday with a seven-day rolling average of 274.

Fatalities, which are a lagging indicator, have not dramatically risen but instead have slightly increased by 6.6 percent from the average of 257 recorded three weeks prior.

Health officials say this is because people now are protected by vaccines, though in states that have less vaccine uptake - such as Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee - hospitals are starting to fill up.

The surge has been blamed on the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant, which now makes up 83.2 percent of all new infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Health officials say nearly all new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are among unvaccinated individuals.

'Don't be deceived that: "I got this far and I am okay,"' Dr Gregory Poland, an internist and head of the Vaccine Research Group at the Mayo Clinic, told CBS Minnesota.

'This is a very different variant. It will find you. This virus will find everybody who is not immune.'

In light of the rising cases, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that land borders with Canada and Mexico will remain closed for non-essential travel until at least August 21.

Last week, Los Angeles County became the first in the country to require all residents to wear mask regardless of whether or not they'd been fully immunized.

The county is reporting about 13.5 cases per 100,000 and the test positivity rate has risen from 0.4 percent on June 15, when the state reopened, to 4.8 percent as of Tuesday. 

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