As the coronavirus rampages through the US, killing hundreds and with projections of many more deaths to come, some states are exempting churches from stay at home orders. Instead of offering their places of worship as sanctuaries for the infirm, church leaders continue to spread the virus by holding crowded services.
Meanwhile, Trump’s religious adviser, Paula White reminded people not to stop tithing. At least evangelical Kenneth Copeland uses his breath to blow the virus away before asking for money.
Large religious gatherings of people have caused various coronavirus “bombs” where numerous people have become infected. In France at least 2,500 worshippers at the Christian Open Door megachurch’s week-long religious festival contracted the coronavirus, while in South Korea one woman infected at least 37 people at her church. CBS Sacramento reports that at least one third of the cases in Sacramento are church-related.
Many evangelicals who defy medical expert’s advice claim to get their information from a higher authority. Pastor Tony Spell in Louisiana, who held services in open defiance of the statewide order, told CNN he had a “command from God.” Lakewood mega-church Pastor Joel Osteen claimed that “God is holding 100,000 Americans in the palm of his hand and is going to crush them. It’s all part of the plan.”
Jerry Falwell Jr., the President of Liberty University who recently settled his infamous “pool boy” scandal for an undisclosed sum, reopened the evangelical university in Lynchburg, Virginia despite the fact that almost all other schools had closed and at least 12 students had already contracted the virus.
Florida’s Gov. De Santis, who famously refused to close the state’s beaches during spring break, defended the right of churches to hold in-person services.
A Virginia pastor who claimed coronavirus was “mass hysteria” died from the virus after attending Mardis Gras in New Orleans, another known coronavirus “bomb.”
A funeral in Albany, Georgia infected dozens and the minister who performed the services has died. Not only Christians are congregating; in Brooklyn, NY two crowded Hassidic funerals took place April 5 in defiance of the stay at home order.
President Trump suggested people should be able to gather for Easter services to take place and the Wisconsin GOP is asking Gov. Evers to open churches on Easter and Passover for in-person services.
If it were only a case of the faithful church-goers dying as a result of their ignorance, that would be grievous enough, but the more they spread the virus, the more it puts others at risk.