Christians in Oregon gathered in protest against the COVID-19 restrictions appealing to the government to counter the repression of religious liberties in the state.
On Nov. 28, hundreds of people gathered themselves outside the Oregon Capitol and protested against the state's coronavirus restrictions. The group of Christians gathered to gripe against the order that limits the number of attendance in churches, the Christian Post reported.
The protestors condemned Governor Kate Brown's order released on Nov. 25. On the latest rule she imposed, churches in Oregon may continue to conduct their Sunday services but at a limited capacity.
Churches are only allowed to gather a maximum of 25 percent of their total attendance or 100 persons, whichever is less. The decision came as part of the state's continuous effort to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19.
The governor earlier ordered that churches in Oregon will only be allowed to gather at a maximum of 25 persons. Brown later revised the order and increased the number after receiving a petition from Archbishop Alexander Sample and other church leaders.
Joining the protest are refugees from Vietnam expressing their concern that what they experienced in their country could be beginning to take place in their newfound home. Some of them expressed their grief that after escaping from Vietnam, they are at risk of persecution in the US.
Young Tran, a member of Our Lady of La Vang Parish in Happy Valley and a refugee from Vietnam, explained why they are there in protest of the restrictions.
"We are here today to speak in one voice: Stop the religious repression," Tran said.
"It happened in our former country, a communist and a socialist country, and it's starting to happen here now," Tran added.
Father Ansgar Pham, pastor of the parish, said he never expected to experience persecution in America, the land of the free.
"We never thought that when we escaped from Vietnam that we would be persecuted here in the United States," Pham told the Catholic Sentinel. "That is really painful."
The Oregon Knights of Columbus are the ones behind the event participated by more than 400 people, most of them Catholic Christians. According to their chaplain, Father Theodore Lange, the move is not for their own sake but for the solidarity with millions of Christians who suffered and lost their lives for Christ.
"We do this for future generations. We do this because we love God, we love the United States and we love Oregon," said the chaplain.
The number of persons allowed in a church gathering may vary across Oregon. On Nov. 30, the state categorized counties by coronavirus spread by three risk levels such as lower risk, high risk, and extreme risk.
Areas put under the extreme risk categories received tighter implementation of restrictions such as limiting the number of persons gathering to six. Among the counties under extreme risk, categories are Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington.
Dr. Dean Sidelinger, a State Health Officer and epidemiologist explained that determining the risks as well as implementing corresponding restrictions per category will help them manage the virus spread especially during the winter season.
The strict implementation of the maximum number of church attendance is expected to continue until December. Oregon may also extend the execution depending on the risk or until a majority of the population received the vaccination.
Meanwhile, Philip Mason, Clackamas County Public Health Director described the restrictions as really a call to action and according to him, people's choices and behaviors especially this winter season create a big impact on the essential healthcare workers.
"We know COVID fatigue is very real, but it's still here and we need to do everything we possibly can to prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed," Mason said.