Second thoughts on complying with the mask mandate

I’m writing thus under a pseudonym because it’s not about me. Yet I have some unanswered questions regarding compliance with all the recent health fads.

The company I work for falls under the heading of “Essential,” so when the Governor of my state issued a “stay at home” order in March, we continued to work, “business-as-usual.” It was extended for a total duration of 5-weeks. During that period, we worked without masks or hand-sanitizer.

A few days before the order was lifted, we were told that on the day the order is lifted, wearing of face masks would be mandatory. All my co-workers grumbled: “The state is relaxing its mandate; why are we suddenly tightening-up?” We hadn’t needed them for the previous 5 weeks, so many were declaring defiance and refusal to wear one.

Without fanfare, I issued a request to Human Resources:

Re: Face Masks

As a gesture of respect, I am submitting this letter expressing my objection to wearing a face mask as required by the Company, for the sake of clarity and record.

When it was posted that all employees would be required to wear face masks as of Friday, May 1, 2020, my conscience convicted me that the motivation behind the ruling had less to do with safety than it had to do with an outward display of religious submission to the false god of paranoia currently gripping our country.

Compliance with the rule would contradict my religious convictions. It would violate the prohibitions found in both the Old[1] and New[2] Testaments against worshiping false idols[3].

If I believed it was about safety, I would comply, just as I do with the use of other PPE.

To date, my objections have been met with courtesy and respect from all members of management that I have interacted with, having made accommodations for my faith by approving the use of vacation time until a resolution can be arrived at.

I regret any inconvenience my position has caused and express my gratitude for the consideration I have experienced thus far and look forward to continued employment with the Company.

Thank You.

(Signed)

The day the mandate took effect, I took 2 days of vacation to see if it would blow-over. Upon my return, I noticed that all the rebels who were raising a raucous refusing to wear masks were wearing theirs. Without donning one myself, I requested 2 more days’ vacation, awaiting approval of my request for absence.

After a week had elapsed, I called an HR representative and asked if they’d received my request.

“Yes.”

“Then why haven’t I received either approval or denial?”

“Our lawyers can’t figure out what to do with you.”

“Well then, obviously, you need to hire more lawyers.”

Hmm: They’ve turned it over to legal. I wondered if I should get a lawyer. I told a friend who’s a consummate news-junky about my dilemma. He responded, “Bob – you’re gonna be famous! Every news item has been about this pandemic 24-7 for weeks. I haven’t come across a story from this angle once. You’ll be on Hannity before the end of the week.”

No. I didn’t want to exploit the opportunity for personal gain. It would appear as a shameless publicity stunt and maintaining the appearance of having integrity is sort of important to me. Even at work I was discrete about it, not staging a public protest.

My buddy protested, “Guaranteed, if your name was ‘Mohammad’ they’d approve your request.”

The day before my scheduled return to work, I woke up in the morning and made a decision: Throw in the towel. All the other resistors caved-in. You’re not better than anyone else. Everyone else is wearing one. Put one on tomorrow and return to work. 

Having put that decision behind me, I poured a cup of coffee and decided to begin my day by spending some time in the Bible. My routine is to pray before I start my day to block-out distracting thoughts. As I prepared to launch into prayer, I perceived a nearly audible, firm, “NO.”

“No?” I knew what it meant. “Okay, If I’m not supposed to return to work wearing a mask, what am I supposed to do?” Crickets.

So, I opened my Bible and found myself reading in the book of Esther, the account of Mordecai refusing to bow before Haman (biblically condoned civil disobedience). That was my answer.

My friends and family harangued me for my stance: “You’re just being a rebellious child! What are you going to do – quit and go work for some other company that requires you to wear a mask? It’s not the company that is requiring it: they posted an order from OSHA. Is this really the hill you want to die on?” I wasn’t being rebellious. I was struggling to be obedient to God rather than man.

After 3 weeks of frittering-away my accrued vacation and 2 weeks of voluntarily unpaid quarantine, I decided not to make a spectacle of myself and violated my conscience by acquiescing and returned to work. It wasn’t a financial decision: I have sufficient resources to subsist for a substantial duration.

A few weeks later, the Governor mandated wearing of masks anywhere in public. Had I taken my stand for “Conscientious-Objector” status and prevailed, it would have affected the personal freedom of potentially millions of other Americans (other countries don’t have constitutionally protected freedom of religious expression).

Churches, emulating my victory, would be able to congregate once again.

That’s why this isn’t about me. I’m wondering if I didn’t drop the ball. What would have happened had I stood my ground? Had I retained an attorney and demanded an answer from the company, what would have transpired? All the company had to do to avoid my appearance on Hannity was approve my request. What repercussions were they afraid of?

(If you’re an attorney, please answer that in the comment field below.)

Had the company denied my request, it would have violated the ethics policy they post on their website: requiring an employee to violate their conscience.

I maintain my original position. I continue to violate my conscience in submission to false religion. It’s an effort to avoid drawing attention to myself. Is it a legitimate position?


[1]    Exodus 20:

      3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

      4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:

      5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

[2]    1 Corinthians 10:

      14 Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.

[3]    2 Timothy 1:Graphic credit: Public Domain Pictures

      7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Photo credit: Public Domain Pictures