A newly released video shows a pregnant mother being removed from Mass and threatened with arrest for not wearing a mask.
Deirdre Hairston says the incident happened at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Dallas last month.
Hairston says she was feeling lightheaded and nauseous and decided to lower her mask to help her breathe.
“I was very much socially distanced and was sitting in the back of the church,” Hairston told Texas Scorecard. “Next thing I know, the pastor is telling me he is going to call the police.”
After receiving communion, Hairston says she returned to her seat to be confronted by three police officers, one of whom told her she would be arrested if she didn’t leave.
As the video shows, Hairston followed the officers outside, where she was told if she did not leave the premises, she would be charged with trespassing.
“They said, ‘This is a business, and the business does not want you here,’” Hairston recalled. “To which I responded, ‘This isn’t a business. This isn’t McDonald’s. This is a sanctuary; this is a place of worship.”
Hairston says she was surprised by the lack of action or concern shown by many of her fellow parishioners.
“In the moment as it was happening, not one single person in the church flinched,” said Hairston.
“I think this shows a lack of leadership from our state officials and from our church leaders. Our bishop, Edward Burns, has really shown a lack of courage in this situation.”
Burns, who leads the Catholic Diocese of Dallas, released a statement saying, “The pastor of the parish has required masks at Mass out of concern for the health and welfare of his entire congregation,” while noting that Hairston was not ultimately arrested or ticketed.
“Canon law grants pastors jurisdiction over their parishes, and while the bishop has not mandated masks for every parish, he has left these specific details to the pastors of the diocese, adding that he expects the faithful to wear masks out of charity and concern for others,” he added.
It’s that definition of charity that Hairston takes issue with.
“Where was charity shown to me in terms of being pregnant and feeling nauseous?”
Hairston says she has not returned to the church since the incident occurred on March 14.
“I was told by the police officer that I am not allowed back on the property and that if I do step back onto the property, I will be arrested for trespassing,” said Hairston.