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    • Paul Van Noy was hospitalized after opening Candlelight Christian Fellowship in Coeur d’Alene for in person services in May; mask wearing was not enforced 
    • His wife Brenda also contracted the virus, along with five other church staff 
    • Brenda said the experience had left her ‘humbled’ in a Facebook post 
    • But her husband pastor is said to have not changed his policy on masks and the church reopened on Sunday after a two week closure and deep clean

    An Idaho pastor who held services at his 1,200-member church, telling the congregation they did not have to wear masks, is now in ICU battling COVID 19. 

    Paul Van Noy was hospitalized after opening Candlelight Christian Fellowship in Coeur d’Alene for in person services in May. 

    Masks are mandated in public in Kootenai County; more than 36,000 people have tested positive for the virus in Idaho, the state death is 429 as if Thursday afternoon. 

    But Van Noy, who compared the virus to the flu, said in July: ‘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.’

    ‘Therefore, if you chose to wear a mask, physically distance, etc. we support your freedom to do so. If you choose to refrain from wearing a mask, etc. we likewise support your decision.’ 

    His wife Brenda also contracted the virus, along with five other church staff. 

    Idaho pastor Paul Van Noy, pictured, who held services at his 1,200-member church, telling the congregation they did not have to wear masks, is now in ICU battling COVID 19

    Van Noy's wife Brenda also contracted the virus, along with five other church staff. The couple are pictured together

    Van Noy’s wife Brenda also contracted the virus, along with five other church staff. The couple are pictured together 

    Brenda said the experience had left her ‘humbled’, writing on September 4: ‘I haven’t taken this Covid seriously enough. I’m humbled. 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. 

    ‘Please take this serious. Pray for healing. Love each other. Pray for those who have lost loved ones because of this EVIL virus!’

    On August 22 she shared a picture of her wearing a Trump mask and cap, writing: ‘I only wear it when I have to!’

    Paul Van Noy was hospitalized after opening Candlelight Christian Fellowship, pictured, in Coeur d'Alene for in person services in May

    Paul Van Noy was hospitalized after opening Candlelight Christian Fellowship, pictured, in Coeur d’Alene for in person services in May

    But her husband pastor is said to have not changed his policy on masks and the church reopened on Sunday after a two week closure and deep clean. 

    In a statement Eric Reade, body ministry coordinator the church, told The Spokesman Review: ‘The position is, if you feel comfortable wearing a mask, you can. If you’re not comfortable wearing a mask, you don’t have to.

    ‘Nobody is going to be criticized for whatever decision they make.’

    Van Noy said Monday: ‘Having been in the ICU now for 11 days…and counting, I am really starting to turn the corner—for the better.’

    On August 22 Brenda shared a picture of her wearing a Trump mask and cap, writing: 'I only wear it when I have to!'

    On August 22 Brenda shared a picture of her wearing a Trump mask and cap, writing: ‘I only wear it when I have to!’

    He added: ‘They tell me it will be a few more days in ICU and then I will move back to a regular room for a couple of days and then to recover at home. At present I feel ok but still need quite a bit of oxygen support—especially if and when I try to get up out of the bed.’  

    At a vigil for Van Noy outside the hospital last week many of those in attendance did not wear masks. 

    Conservative commentator Charlie Kirk, who is the founder of Turning Point USA, is set to speak in person at the church on September 27.  

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