An unmasked man accused of trespassing by the parish priest at a church in Lakewood, Washington charged the altar after he was asked to leave, triggering a horde of congregants to join the melee and call for police and security.
A clip of the incident, which has clocked up more than 560,000 views at the time of writing, shows the parish pastor, Fr. Paul Brunet, ordering a man at the front of the congregation to “leave this church right now,” accusing him of “trespassing,” and calling for security. The footage was apparently filmed on Sunday at St. Frances Cabrini Parish Church in Lakewood.
Father declined to forgive those who trespassed against him pic.twitter.com/Bj55SpHU8v
— 𝘽𝙧𝙮𝙖𝙣 𝙋𝙖𝙨𝙨𝙞𝙛𝙞𝙪𝙢𝙚 (@BryanPassifiume) October 25, 2021
The man is seen striding up to the altar, denying he is “a trespasser in this church,” briefly turning to face the camera, and ordering an unseen person to “keep your hands off me.”
Several other men make a beeline for the “intruder,” who again demands they “keep their hands off [him]” and refuses to leave.
This man wanted ALL THE SMOKE 💨 pic.twitter.com/i902VGLVhy
— Leo Humps (@leohumpsalot) October 25, 2021
After some pushing and shoving, in which at least one man is knocked to the ground, a crowd rushes to the altar to help dispose of the trespasser, carrying him bodily out of the church. The priest can be heard asking someone to dial 911.
It's a submission move. Adds just enough pressure to the arms that it makes it very difficult to fight back without feeling like you're going to break your neck. He'll be sore, but that's about it.
— Masked, Double Vaxxed and Flu Vaxxed😷🐭♎🇨🇦 (@Canadianmouse2) October 25, 2021
Washington state requires masks to be worn by everyone aged five years or over in public indoor settings – a category that includes churches. The vaccinated are not exempt from the requirement.
However, a closer look at the video reveals several other participants of the brawl not wearing masks either, so it’s unclear what triggered the call for the interloper to be removed in the first place.
Churches have been hotspots for Covid-19-related clashes in the US due to the First Amendment, which, theoretically, protects freedom of religion. However, most media coverage has focused on congregations that oppose the imposition of virus-related mandates such as mask requirements.