The Malicious Mask Mandate

This post resumes a now-occasional series on our experiences under COVID-19, inspired by the realization that “we are all field collectors” in the effort to someday tell the story of what happened in 2020. I welcome your submissions: find guidelines for guest writers here.

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers issued an executive order on August 1, 2020 that in part, read:

“Every individual age 5 and older must wear a face covering if indoors or in an enclosed space, other than at a private residence and others who are not members of individual’s household or living unit are present in the same room or enclosed space. Face coverings are strongly recommended in all other settings, including outdoors when it is not possible to maintain physical distancing.”

By Kurt Baumann

Intending to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus, an emergency executive mandate, signed by Governor Tony Evers, requiring “residents of Wisconsin five years of age and older to wear face masks indoors and in enclosed spaces” became law on August 1st, 2020. 

The COVID-19 virus has taken over the globe. Besides “social distancing,” staying six feet apart from another person to prevent airborne contagion, assorted face shields have become an everyday sight. At the memorial service of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg mourners, viewing her casket outside the Supreme Court building in Washington D.C., were seen wearing black masks.

Tired of this virus bringing changes of unwanted restrictions, a majority of people wish it went away, along with these changes, to get back to the life they knew. Wearing masks has been seen as a violation of America’s constitutional rights. As the increased deaths show, wishing it won’t make it go away–and neither will going without wearing a mask. 

In mid-August, the elders of my church, Faith Community Christian Reformed Church, of Beaver Dam, dealt with this issue by holding services outside the church to obey the mandate and settle any arguments, in the congregation, between those pro- and anti-mask. Satisfying as this decision seemed, a bigger issue was overlooked—the reason church is attended in the first place.

Kurt Baumann in front of the Faith Community Christian Reformed Church of Beaver Dam

Matthew 22:15-21 tells the story of how the Pharisees, the traditional Jewish observers, plotted to trap Jesus with his own words as they asked him whether to pay taxes to the Roman emperor, Caesar. Taxes, paid to Rome, were a stormy political issue at the time. Whether Jesus’ answered “Yes” or “No,” any part of the population would be alienated. He faced this problem by asking for a coin, which He was given, and asking whose likeness was on it. When told that it was the Roman emperor, Caesar, he answered them by saying:

“Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, unto God the things that are God’s.”

In our nation, the freedom to worship God, a right guaranteed by the first amendment, is too often taken for granted. “We the people” tend to forget just how lucky “we” are. Despite the carnage at religious services and churches burnt here in America, there are nations in this world where people who worship God are persecuted and put to death. 

The issue of our church isn’t about wearing masks, it’s about worshipping God, who created our world, stood by us despite our sins, and is still a part of our lives. Considering all He has done for us, is it really such a sacrifice to wear a mask when we gather inside our church for a worship service?

Governor Evers didn’t enact this law to violate our rights. I like to think his intention was to protect Wisconsin by preventing the spread of the Covid-19 virus and more death. Maybe masks, inconvenient as they are, aren’t as bad as people think. If they help us get through this difficult time and help us fight this virus, then maybe wearing one isn’t too much to ask. 

By covering our faces indoors at church services, we obey and honor both “Wisconsin’s Caesar” (the law) and the God we worship. Let’s not forget that as provocative as this issue is, faith in a Higher Power is one we shouldn’t lose sight of.      

“Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, unto God the things that are God’s.”

© 2020 Kurt Baumann

Since 1983, Kurt Baumann has lived in Beaver Dam involved in his community theater, church, and contributor to his local newspaper. After working a variety of jobs for most of his life, he has retired to do some writing. He has written one book: The Written Works of Kurt Baumann.

About first person productions

My blog "True Stories Well Told" is a place for people who read and write about real life. I’ve been leading life writing groups since 2004. I teach, coach memoir writers 1:1, and help people publish and share their life stories.
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1 Response to The Malicious Mask Mandate

  1. Jerry says:

    It really is such a simple thing. Thanks Kurt.


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