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Christian conservatives invited to GOP party

Christian conservatives invited to GOP party

The media received a press release from GOP leaders in Western North Carolina inviting all Christian conservatives to a “Can’t ‘Coop’-Up Christmas” Celebration from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 17, at the Smoky Mountain Event Center (the former Haywood County Fairgrounds).

“The people of Western North Carolina have had enough of Cooper’s mandatory lockdowns,” Kay Miller, chairwoman of the Haywood Republican Party, stated in the press release. “There is a line between protecting public health and tyranny, and that line has been crossed. People are being scared to death; they’re depressed and suicidal, and abuse numbers have really spiked. Jobs, businesses and livelihoods have been lost. We should have the freedom to celebrate Christmas as we choose, with whomever we choose. We can celebrate safely.”

Special guest speakers include local pastors, as well as elected representatives, including outgoing Sen. Jim Davis, incoming Rep. Mike Clampitt, Sen. Kevin Corbin and others. Also invited are Republican elected representatives at all levels of government, as well as judges and justices of the N.C. courts.

Since the event center is owned by the county and operated by a county-appointed board, there have been questions whether such an event would be in violation of the governor’s order. County Attorney Frank Queen said since the event center is run by an independent board, the county doesn’t have a supervisory role at the county-owned venue, and merely serves as a landlord to the board with little oversight as to the types of events that take place there. 

Further, per Gov. Cooper’s Executive Order 181, the event is clearly exempt from the provisions of the order. The exemptions to Cooper’s order listed in section 1.2 are “Worship, religious, and spiritual gatherings, funeral ceremonies, wedding ceremonies, and other activities constituting the exercise of First Amendment rights.” 

Although not specifically mentioned therein, political expression also presumably falls under the exemption because the First Amendment specifically mentions the rights of free speech and peaceable assembly. 

Haywood County Medical Director Dr. Mark Jaben said it was clear that gathering together, especially in large groups and especially indoors, is a high-risk event for getting the virus. 

“We know that in Haywood County, as of Dec 15, there is a 91 percent chance that someone in a crowd of more than 100 people is, in fact, infected. You can pretty well guarantee that everyone at this event is in a position to get exposed because, short of having symptoms, there is no way to know who in the crowd is infected, as an infected person can be pre-symptomatic — contagious but without symptoms. With the level of infection in the community right now, that can be any one of us. It’s not political, religious, or philosophical — it’s the virus,” he said. 

The event is co-sponsored by the Haywood County Republican Party and Smoky Mountain Republican Women. For more information, contact Charlene Hogue at 828.371.8247 or Kay Miller at 828.246.9696.

— Staff reports

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