On paper, Christianity is all about loving your neighbor like yourself. That’s not just a friendly suggestion; in Mark 12:31, we learn that next to loving God, “there is no commandment greater.”
In practice, we encounter Christians like California pastor Michael Jacobsen and the majority of his flock, who’ve decided that it’s perfectly fine to tell their neighbors to go fuck themselves.
Last month, a Butte County church defied Gov. Gavin Newsom’s statewide order and opened its doors for services, despite warnings that people without symptoms could unwittingly spread the disease to others in crowded spaces. Health officials discovered one of the parishioners had tested positive for COVID-19, potentially exposing more than 160 people at the church. They dispatched a team to track and contain the disease. They didn’t get far. The county’s efforts were stymied almost immediately because the church and most of its members refused to share information with health officials, a … review of county emails and interviews with officials show.
As a result, the six health workers assigned to the “contact tracing” investigation were only able to speak to 25 of the 163 parishioners who attended the church
That’s 15 percent of the people who showed up in person for the Mother’s Day service. The rest are MIA.
The county’s health director said her staff has no idea how many of the parishioners and their close contacts got tested.
And of course,
It’s not clear how many quarantined themselves. The pastor, Michael Jacobsen, declined an interview…, but he was unapologetic in an online sermon last month as the contact tracing investigation was underway. “I don’t feel like the decision we made was irresponsible,” he said during his sermon.
Explaining that “it was never in my heart to put our church in harm’s way,” Jacobsen added that he didn’t feel compelled to mount a defense, comparing himself to (drum roll!) the Savior!
“When Jesus went before Pilate, he didn’t defend himself. So I don’t feel the need.”
Being asked to socially-distance was unreasonable, Jacobsen offered — even offensive.
“They might as well put an ankle bracelet on me,” he said. “The only difference is I have broken no laws.”
A couple of days ago, only two church-related coronavirus outbreaks were in the news — one in Perry County, Kentucky, and one in Greenbrier County, West Virginia. I wrote about them here. Forty-eight hours later, the Christian caca is really beginning to hit the fan. Here’s a little potpourri of current headlines.
Public health manager Starrlene Grossman talked about a “cluster of cases” at a local church during the Sheboygan County Health and Human Services Committee meeting Tuesday morning. In an update mid-Tuesday, public-health officials said 23 confirmed cases are associated with the outbreak at this time. The county didn’t release the name of the church.
A large coronavirus outbreak in a small Oregon county grew by 119 new cases Tuesday, yet again pushing the state to a new record number of cases confirmed in a single day — 278, state and county officials said. … Union County’s COVID-19 case count is now ten times what it was on Sunday, leaping from 22, to 121, to 240 cases. Its current rate of positive tests for coronavirus is the highest in the state, at 22%. … [A] number of cases are associated with Lighthouse United Pentecostal Church in Island City.
Some rural areas in Kentucky that hadn’t had many COVID-19 cases have seen an increase recently tied at least in part to the reopening of churches and businesses.
Harlan County, in south-eastern Kentucky, had only one confirmed case of the disease before May 30, but has had 13 since then, said Judge-Executive Dan Mosley. The quarantine cases include several youth interns with the Club 180 Ministry in Cumberland, Mosley said. …
Clay County had only six confirmed coronavirus cases as of May 28, but added seven confirmed cases and one probable case over the weekend, according to news releases. Several cases in Clay County were tied to a church, … said Christie Green, public health director for the department.
Of the 12 new cases confirmed in Jackson County over the weekend, 11 were associated with churches, and more potential exposures are likely to turn up as health officials continue tracing people’s contacts, Green said.
The Boone County Health Department has confirmed a COVID-19 outbreak at a church in the Bloomingrose area of the county. Dr. Philip Galapon, director and public health officer at the health department, confirmed Tuesday that the church at the center of the outbreak is the Bloomingrose Church of Christ. … Galapon said several people from the church traveled to Whitesville for a community testing and soon discovered that there were a total of seven church members who had contracted the disease.
The health department contacted the church’s minister and had a discussion about state guidelines regarding churches. “They weren’t as versed in it as we had hoped …,” Galapon said, [adding that] there are currently 10 active cases within Boone County, with the majority of those originating from the church.
Sacramento County [CA] is suddenly seeing COVID-19 cases at a rate not seen in two months as bars and health clubs and other businesses are allowed to reopen.
Oh, about that church-related outbreak in Greenbrier, WV I mentioned on Monday — how’s this for an update?
Member’s mother claims Greenbrier County church never notified her of COVID-19 outbreak, found out on WVVA.com
Ashley Guet’s son, 12, attended the Graystone Baptist Church in Lewisburg on Sunday, June 7th. She said she was notified Wednesday [last week] by a youth pastor that services had been cancelled that day, but there was no mention at that time of a possible COVID-19 outbreak. In fact, she said COVID-19 was never mentioned by the church until she learned of the outbreak on wvva.com [the local NBC News outlet] over the weekend.
Between Wednesday and finding out on Saturday, she said her family continued on with their normal activities, including shopping at Walmart, grocery shopping, and caring for her mother-in-law who battles multiple sclerosis. …
“I feel guilty. I feel awful. I question myself, saying I should not have sent my son that day. I trusted them. I believed in them. I thought they had my son and my family’s best interest at heart.”
Well, lady, there’s your problem.
It’ll get lots worse before it gets better. The U.S. reported 12,570 new cases in one day yesterday. A statistical-virological model used by the White House coronavirus taskforce now says that an additional 80,000 Americans are likely to die of COVID-19 in the next three and a half months. Going by the current level of what-me-worry idiocy all over the country — with a disproportionate amount of it coming from Christians — my money’s on a considerably higher body count than that.
I sure hope I’m wrong.
(Screenshot via YouTube)