Dozens of Christians gathered in Thousand Oaks, California, to protest Gov. Gavin Newsom’s severe lockdown orders. The group sang Christmas carols in defiance of state and local stay-at-home mandates.
According to a local ABC affiliate, “…the crowd, appearing to be about 75 to 100 people, was caroling outside The Oaks mall – right next to a COVID-19 testing center. There were people of all ages, from children to senior citizens, in the group.”
The event was part of nationwide effort by Sing It Louder USA to engage people to peacefully protest lockdowns and restrictions through song. Their events are for “…all Americans who are fed up with govt officials telling you that you can’t celebrate Christmas the way you want to.” The first nationwide event was held on Dec. 6, but many have continued the events throughout the month.
The Sing It Louder event in Southern California was held in the parking lot of The Oaks, a mall in Thousand Oaks and was organized by actor Kirk Cameron, best known for his role as Mike Seaver on the 1990s ABC sitcom Growing Pains.
“I’m getting ready to go out in 38 minutes, it’s T-38 minutes for our Christmas caroling peaceful protest,” Cameron said in an Instagram post. “We are going to be celebrating our God-given liberties, our constitutionally protected rights at this time at Christmas to sing Christmas songs to gather, to assemble, and to sing about the birth of our savior.”
The Oaks mall posted a statement to Facebook, saying: “We do not condone this irresponsible — yet constitutionally protected — peaceful protest event planned. We share your concern and have notified the Sheriff’s office. As well, we have reached out to the event planner to ask that they do not use The Oaks as their venue.”
The mall is located in Ventura County, part of the Southern California Region, a group of counties under Governor Gavin Newsom’s mandated stay home order. Large gatherings are prohibited with the exception of religious services and political expression.
“Feel like you’re done with all the mandates telling you how many people you can have in your home or how you’re supposed to eat or that you cannot sing?” said Houston pastor Steve Riggle on the Sing It Louder website.
According to NBC, Cameron stated that all attendees were encouraged to wear masks and had no further comment.
In an interview on Fox News Cameron said “I’m looking around in my community and I’m seeing the devastation and the suffering of people whose businesses have been bankrupted. People who have been dealing with anxiety, depression; suicide spiking. The abused being quarantined with their abusers and I can’t just ignore that. I love my neighbors and so I want to give them hope.”
Thousand Oaks Mayor Claudia Bill-de la Pena said regarding the event: “Liberty and freedom are very fragile and they come with great responsibility. Continuing to hold large gatherings and ignoring all guidelines, I feel, is unchristian.”
Cameron pledged to continue hosting caroling events.
“This is the land of the free and home of the brave, and there are thousands and thousands of people in our community who would rather not suffer in isolation and come out to sing and express their gratitude,” he said. “We believe there is immunity in community, but there is desolation in isolation.”