Since Nov. 20, Montana has required wearing masks in all of its counties regardless of the number of COVID-19 cases locally. Some have recently begun calling for the mandate to be lifted. In response, a group of faith leaders — including representatives from Lutheran, Quaker, Jewish, Episcopal, Methodist, Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, United Church of Christ, and Buddhist communities — have drafted an open letter encouraging Gov. Greg Gianforte to keep the mandate in place.
While the signatories said they hope the release of vaccines will quickly turn things around, they believe the coming three months will be critical for Montanans, writing:
We empathize with the calls to lift the mask mandate based on the values of personal freedom and responsibility. Perhaps this would be OK if the people taking risks only risk their own health. However, multiple studies and health professionals across our country are clear that not wearing a mask or wearing one incorrectly creates risk for others, and this has contributed greatly to our crisis. It would be great if we could expect that people would act responsibly without external regulations, but we know that thousands of our fellow citizens will not wear masks unless mandated to do so.
As people of faith, our greatest values are to love God and love our neighbors. Today, loving our neighbor means protecting those who are vulnerable from contracting this virus. Even healthy adults are vulnerable. The vulnerable are our parents, spouses, children, extended families and neighbors. We know that wearing masks will save many of the lives of our neighbors in need. The cost is merely a temporary inconvenience that all of us should embrace as a way to protect our neighbors, as well as ourselves.
Read the entire letter here.