Mass Christmas carol gathering in California sparks backlash amid COVID-19 surge

17 December 2020, 11:36

Mass Christmas carol gathering in California sparks backlash amid COVID-19 surge
Mass Christmas carol gathering in California sparks backlash amid COVID-19 surge. Picture: Kirk Cameron/Instagram

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

Backlash as maskless carollers congregate in California amid a concerning rise in coronavirus cases.

A mass carol singing event, organised by actor Kirk Cameron as a protest against coronavirus restrictions, has been heavily criticised amid a surge in cases in California.

On Sunday 13 December, carollers congregated in an outdoor car park at the Oaks Mall in Thousand Oaks in Southern California’s Ventura Country, to sing Christmas songs by candlelight.

Cameron posted videos of the moment to Instagram, in which the crowd can be heard singing ‘Jingle Bells’ and ‘God Bless America’, the vast majority of individuals not wearing masks or face coverings.

“God Bless America! Joy over Fear,” he captioned one video, which now has more than 100,000 views.

The Growing Pains actor called it a ‘Peaceful Christmas Protest’, telling followers in a previous video: “We’re going to be celebrating our God-given liberties, our constitutionally protected rights, at this time at Christmas, to sing Christmas songs.”

Read more: 100-strong choir sings without masks at Mike Pence event >

Cameron persuaded others to join the protest “to sing… and spread the message of Christ’s love and liberty”. He added there would be “candles, lyric sheets and inspiring speeches”.

The actor organised a similar event earlier this month, again posting photo and video evidence to Instagram (see below). Carollers were once again seen singing without masks and gathered together in a large group.

California has been described as “the latest epicentre” of coronavirus, reporting more cases a day than most countries in the world, according to the Washington Post.

All California residents have been ordered to stay home, except for permitted work and local shopping, with private gatherings banned and masks and social distancing required at all times. Yesterday, 16 December, the state posted more than 41,000 infections.

Read more: How music is helping these healthcare workers get though the pandemic >

Both carol singing events have sparked hundreds of comments on Instagram, with one user saying: “How sad. I am a COVID nurse too and we are trying so hard to take care of people [but] we don’t have room anymore.

“It’s real, yes joy is so important!!! But pretending this disease doesn’t matter is just plain selfish and irresponsible. I hope no one here gets sick I really do.”

Another added: “No masks? No care for others health? That’s not peaceful protesting. That’s harming others.”

A third commenter wrote: “You should be ashamed of yourselves. It’s not about ‘living in fear’ or ‘being sheeple’. It’s about respecting your healthcare workers, and the elderly or immunocompromised. It’s about taking care of one another compassionately.”

Thousand Oaks mayor, Claudia Bill-de la Pena, told ABC: “Liberty and freedom are very fragile and they come with great responsibility. Continuing to hold large gatherings and ignoring all guidelines, I feel, is un-Christian.”