An Idaho pastor who called himself a “no-masker” during a church service and repeatedly criticized coronavirus safety precautions is intensive care after contracting Covid-19.
According to CNN, pastor Paul Van Noy of Candlelight Church in Coeur d’Alene has spent two weeks in the hospital with a Covid-19 diagnosis. Five other church staff were infected with coronavirus, too, but they’ve all recovered, ministry coordinator Eric Reade told the news network.
In late July, Van Noy prayed with his congregation that the City Council in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, would not pass a mask mandate. The following day, the Council passed an order requiring face coverings for adults when social distancing is not possible. However, the pastor told his congregation that they did not have to wear masks in church, as the order allowed for some medical exemptions that did not have to be proven.
“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,’” the pastor shared on Facebook.
Van Noy in August also called on churches and businesses to reopen, sharing a post stating, “If you fell for the lies this time, wake up and join the army of truth-seekers fighting on the front lines.”
Days later, Van Noy and his wife, Brenda Van Noy, both tested positive for COVID-19. Brenda Van Noy shared on Facebook on September 4 that she hasn’t “taken this Covid seriously enough.”
“I have Covid and some of my friends have Covid now but more seriously my husband is in critical care in ICU with Covid and it is serious,” Van Noy shared earlier this month. “Please take this serious. Pray for healing. Love each other. Pray for those who have lost loved ones because of this EVIL virus!”
Four days later, Van Noy shared on Facebook that “Paul’s lungs need to heal. Pray for strength and that God calms this Covid storm in Paul’s lungs.”
Van Noy said Thursday that Candlelight Christian Fellowship is temporarily suspending services. However, the church is set to host Charlie Kirk, the president of the conservative organization Turning Point USA, as well as Godspeak Church Pastor Rob McCoy, who was recently found in contempt of a California order prohibiting indoor worship services.