The use of masks to help negate the potential for COVID-19 spread is a topic that's remained a source of debate ever since measures were first recommended upon COVID's arrival in the U.S. And in a new edition of his "Cooper Stuff" podcast, Skillet vocalist John Cooper explained that he feels wearing a mask is "nothing more than theater," sharing his skepticism that the mask will keep him from harm and is a stepping stone toward governmental totalitarianism.

That take received a mix of positive and negative reaction, with Queensyrche's vocalist Todd La Torre issuing a challenge to Cooper after seeing the story posted online.

While Cooper expressed his doubts over face masks and their ability as a preventative measure against COVID, it should be noted that studies have shown that masks do limit the spread of respiratory droplets that could travel through the air by coughing, sneezing or speaking.

Cooper's podcast episode — titled "Would Jesus Wear a Mask?" — found the Skillet musician addressing the mask debate and and offering his thoughts on faith and how that factored into the discussion.

During the chat, as initially transcribed by Blabbermouth, Cooper stated, "Every time I put my mask on, I know that I'm doing something that I do not believe in. In other words, I'm being forced to lie… I'm being forced to jump into something I don't believe, and I'm living by a lie — I'm living by a lie that this mask is actually gonna keep me safe from all harm."

He then added, "To acquiesce to the government, which says that I'm believing something that I know that I don't believe. So now I'm basically living in a fantasy world. That frightens me. And every time I put that mask on, that's basically what I think. I know I'm doing this, I know it's show, I know it's theater, I know my overlords don't even believe in it, because if they did, they wouldn't be breaking all of their own rules."

Cooper did state during the podcast that people are trying to do their best in terms of what steps to take concerning coronavirus and what would be the best way to do so while showing their faith.

"I think that your conscience — your personal conscience before the Lord — has to come into play in a really big way in these issues," he explained. "If you feel like that the best thing that you can do unto the Lord is to get a vaccine, I would say go for it. That's between you and the Lord. That's up to you. Go for it. Absolutely no judgment from me. If you want to get a vaccine and wear a mask, if that's what you feel like you need to do, that's up to you. If you wanna wear a mask, up to you. I feel this is an issue of, like, 'Hey, everybody can make kind of their own decisions here, because it's kind of a weird time we live in.' What I don't like is on these very complicated issues when the dogmatism comes in of, 'If you are a believer, you will do this,' when there's so much to talk about."

Among those issues is the role of overlords, which he defines as government, big tech and media companies, in trying to dictate policy. "I'm much more scared of totalitarianism than COVID or cancer, for that matter. Because totalitarianism and tyranny will destroy nations, will destroy cultures," stated Cooper, who added that he's concerned that sacrificing freedoms to government for a sense of safety could lead to oppression.

As stated, Cooper's thoughts drew response from both pro and anti-mask commenters online, including Queensryche's Todd La Torre who commented on Blabbermouth's initial Facebook posting of the story.

La Torre wrote on the posting in a message directed at Cooper, "Cool then go volunteer on the Covid floor of a hospital maskless and let us know how that works out. He believes in a mythical celestial dictator but doesn't believe in science."

Facebook: Blabbermouth

In the United States, there have been a reported 36.7 million COVID cases, with 621,000 deaths reported. According to the CDC, an estimated 59.7 percent of Americans have had at least one dose of a COVID vaccination while 50.7 percent are fully vaccinated. In the latest period dating Aug. 1-Aug. 13, there have been 2,539,857 reported cases of patients admitted to hospitals with confirmed COVID-19 infections.

John Cooper on His "Cooper Stuff" Podcast

Skillet Albums Ranked