30 April 2020
Many conservative pastors across the Bible Belt have succumbed to coronavirus after churches and televangelists played down the pandemic and actively encouraged churchgoers to flout self-distancing guidelines.
The Indepedent reports:
As many as 30 church leaders from the nation’s largest African American Pentecostal denomination have now been confirmed to have died in the outbreak, as members defied public health warnings to avoid large gatherings to prevent transmitting the virus.
The right to worship has emerged as one of the chief battles within the looming culture war brought on by the coronavirus, dramatically emphasising the outsized role of fringe American conservatism across the US and in the White House.
— The Thinking Atheist (@ThinkingAtheist) April 28, 2020
The Progressive Secular Humanist has reported on several high profile deaths in the Bible Belt. Landon Spradlin, a Virginia pastor who claimed the “mass hysteria” around the coronavirus pandemic was part of a media plot against Trump, died from the virus. And Bishop Gerald Glenn, a popular Virginia pastor, also died after preaching a packed sermon proclaiming “God is larger than this dreaded virus”.
Prominent evangelical leaders and televangelists have also attempted to capitalise on the crisis. For example, Kenneth Copeland urged viewers to pay tithes despite losing their jobs amid unprecedented unemployment claims. And Tony Spell directed parishioners to donate their federal stimulus checks to churches.
The Guardian reports that many of these preachers believe Christians shouldn’t be controlled by a ‘spirit of fear’:
André Gagne, an associate professor of theological studies at Concordia University, and a researcher of the Christian right, recently published on the phenomenon of coronavirus denialism among evangelicals. Asked why evangelical leaders are committed to taking such a risk in denying the reality of the infection, or even assisting its spread, Gagne said it was rooted in their theology.
“Many of these preachers believe Christians shouldn’t be controlled by a ‘spirit of fear’,” Gagne said. “They often quote biblical texts which promise God’s healing and protection to those who have faith. They are confident that God is in control; that this is part of his overall plan before a great end-times spiritual revival.”
He said: “There are those who also understand this in terms of ‘spiritual warfare’, and that Jesus gave Christians authority over every demon and sickness. And if a Christian dies, no worries: he or she will ‘be with the Lord’.”
Important to understand the forces influencing the Trump administration and the importance of correctly diagnosing cult mind control which is being used.https://t.co/Db27p0UGhk
— Steven Hassan (@CultExpert) April 4, 2020
Prosperity Gospel Millionaire Kenneth Copeland Screams At Followers To Keep Tithing
Pastor Dies from COVID-19 After Blasting Social Distancing Measures | NowThis
Authorities crackdown on churches, parties where stay-at-home orders are ignored | Nightline
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