ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Local churches are already pushing back against the state’s updated public health order. It’s the first weekend masks are again required indoors for everyone as a way to stop the spread of the Delta variant – but some churches in Albuquerque are taking a strong stance against the mandate. “I, along with all of these other pastors, do not believe it’s the church’s job or a pastor’s job to tell you only what a doctor can tell you,” says Dustin Woodward, the pastor at Citizen Church. 

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Both Legacy and Citizen churches in Albuquerque posted their Sunday morning sermons on social media. They’re not hiding their message that they won’t be enforcing the re-instated indoor mask mandate, regardless of a person’s vaccination status.

Pastor Woodward said, “Everyone is welcome at Citizen Church whether you’re vaccinated or not, whether you choose to wear a mask or not.” KRQE has been told about half of the hundreds of people inside Citizen Church Sunday morning were not wearing masks.

Legacy Church Pastor Steve Smothermon even told people he hopes no one goes to the state fair this year now that the governor is requiring people to show proof of vaccination to get in. However, the state has said that the new rule is necessary. Dan Mourning, the New Mexico State Fair general manager explains, “This is just an additional layer of protection for the people of New Mexico.”

Smothermon called his strong stance a, ‘peaceful protest’. He says, “If more people would ignore her and the mandates, businesses if you would just put your signs out and then if people come in you, can just simply say I’m not the mask police.” 

He went on to encourage his congregants to disregard the state’s COVID protocols altogether

It was at a news conference last week that Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said masks and vaccinations are the tools we need to fight the pandemic. “We can’t continue our economic recovery and our positive economic journey if we have out-of-control COVID cases in the state of New Mexico,” said Governor Grisham. 

KRQE reached out to the governor’s office for a response but has not heard back. The indoor mask mandate is slated to stay in effect through at least September 15.

The governor’s office issued the following statement:

Masks are currently required in any and all public spaces in order to slow the spread of the dangerous and highly contagious Delta variant. It is critical that we protect New Mexicans’ lives and protect New Mexico health care workers and hospital capacity.

Nora Meyers Sackett, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham spokeswoman