You may have heard about the in-person wedding in Maine that has led to hundreds of COVID infections and eight deaths (so far). All eight deaths involve people who did not attend the ceremony.
Well, the person who officiated the wedding happens to be an evangelical Christian pastor who has opposed COVID restrictions, even telling his church members that they don’t need to bother wearing masks.
— Todd Bell (@Preachertbell) August 6, 2020
And here’s the kicker: Rev. Todd Bell‘s Calvary Baptist Church — an independent fundamentalist Baptist church — has already been in the news for its own COVID outbreak.
Carol Kuruvilla of HuffPost explains:
As the now-infamous wedding reception’s impact spread through Maine, Pastor Todd Bell, of Calvary Baptist Church in Sanford, cast doubt on the effectiveness of masks, allowed congregational singing, and disseminated misinformation about the severity of COVID-19.
During the service posted to YouTube, Bell told his congregation that he believes “God, not government,” would control the pandemic, according to WGME. The pastor reportedly downplayed the severity of the coronavirus and cautioned against getting inoculated once a vaccine for COVID-19 is developed. Instead of relying on vaccines, Bell said he is trusting in God, “the one that has the power to remove pestilences,” The Boston Globe reported.
Bell reportedly told church members that they could wear masks if they wanted to, but that he also wanted people “to have the liberty to have done your own research” and that “masks are kind of like trying to keep a mosquito out of a chain-link fence,” according to the Globe.
It should go without saying that no one’s right to worship publicly trumps everyone else’s right to live. There’s no reason people should be worshiping in person when perfectly decent options are available online or at home.
Bell, not surprisingly, refuses to admit doing anything wrong. There’s no Christ-like humility, much less repentance. Believing in God doesn’t mean you should take unnecessary risks. God didn’t even save the martyrs of the early church, who were brutally executed by the Romans. God didn’t even save Jesus. Why would a Christian leader think he deserves special treatment and protection from physical harm?
When it comes to dealing with the virus, listen to the epidemiologists and public health officials who spend their careers studying these diseases. Don’t listen to the people whose only credential is a self-described fast-track connection to God.
(Featured image via Shutterstock)