Summoned by the actor Kirk Cameron, hundreds of maskless people belted out Christmas carols in a Thousand Oaks parking lot Sunday night in a protest against coronavirus restrictions.
Cameron, known for his roles in the sitcom “Growing Pains” and Christian films such as “Mercy Rule,” organized and promoted the event on Instagram, drawing rebukes from many for potentially spreading the coronavirus.
“It’s part town hall meeting, part worship service,” Cameron said in a video promoting the event. “If you love God, if you love Christmas and you love liberty, you’re not going to want to miss this.”
Sunday’s event followed a Dec. 6 gathering that Cameron said he organized for more than 500 people as part of a nationwide movement called “Sing It Louder USA” that has protested restrictions such as social distancing and restaurant closures.
More than 100 gatherings have taken place in at least 30 states, according to the movement’s website.
“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 Texas pastor Steve Riggle in a video posted to the group’s website. “Here we are at the Christmas season, and there’s a way to stand up against that.”
Videos posted to Cameron’s Instagram account shows a crowd of all ages — most without masks — singing outside the Oaks mall. Musicians played an acoustic version of “Angels We Have Heard on High” and jangled bells for “Jingle Bells.”
At an audience member’s request, the crowd broke into an a cappella rendition of “God Bless America.”
The event came as Southern California plummets to almost 0% ICU capacity and coronavirus case counts crush daily records. Under recent restrictions, gatherings with people of different households are prohibited, except for religious events or protests.
“So does love thy neighbors mean you love them so much you’re gonna give them covid?” one commenter asked on Cameron’s Instagram post, garnering more than 650 likes.
Others lauded the actor: “Keep up the great work!”
One of the first known super-spreader events in the pandemic came when a Seattle choir of 121 members met for an indoor rehearsal, leading to at least 45 COVID-19 diagnoses and two deaths.