A reverend with a laissez-faire approach to social distancing and linked to a "super spreading" wedding that reportedly resulted in multiple coronavirus death has been told he can't attend his son's nuptials - unless he wears a mask.
Maine pastor Todd Bell came under fire earlier this year after officiating at a wedding on 7 August at the Big Moose Inn in Millinocket, a small town in Penobscot County.
Ten of the guests at the wedding - including Mr Todd's father - later tested positive for coronavirus, Maine Monitor reported. The publication stated that the disease then spread throughout the state, infecting 180 more people, eight of whom died.
It is now the turn of Rev Bell's son to tie the knot. The service is scheduled to take place at the South Church in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on 17 October, and pastor Bell has been warned to take precautions.
“I hope Pastor Bell will wear a mask,” said South Church official Jennifer Leyden. “To ask another person of faith to leave is an incredibly hard thing. But unfortunately, I have to be a hard-ass. If you’re not wearing a mask, you’re not coming in.”
The church has since told NBC News it will be implementing further restrictions ahead of the Bells' arrival, and that the family was cooperating with requests to comply with measures. Rev Bell did not immediately respond to the network's request for comment.
Guests at the service will later travel to The Hall at Great Falls in the nearby town of Somersworth, New Hampshire for the reception party.
“I would be more worried about the reception than I would sitting in a church with a mask on for 15, 20 minutes,” Ms Leyden said.
According to The Maine Monitor, Rev Bell has continued to travel around and outside of the state to officiate at events and deliver sermons and remained "unrepentant" after the wedding which reportedly resulted in multiple deaths.
“There’s really no good conversation with him right now,” Sanford City Councilor Maura Herlihy said of the religious leader. “He wants to do what he wants on his pulpit, and he’s chosen his line in the sand.”
“His actions are absolutely reckless and causing harm to people,” said Rev Jane Field, whose Faith Lutheran Church in Windham has held outdoor and virtual services since March. “I just don’t know what kind of religion thinks that’s what we’re called to do, to put people in harm’s way in order to worship together, when we can worship just fine in safe ways.”
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