Salon: For millennia, religious leaders have offered guidance, redemption and fellowship for those interested in dedicating themselves to a life of charity, compassion and hope. But what happens when religious leaders support beliefs or prevailing social customs that significantly harm others?
Today, just as in centuries before, there are religious leaders propagating beliefs that are both harmful and deadly. Since March of 2020, more than 5 million people worldwide, including 800,000 Americans, have died from the coronavirus. Americans are still dying at a rate of about 1,400 people per day.
Despite these incontrovertible facts, confirmed by a long trail of death certificates, burials and cremation urns, some religious leaders around the U.S. continue to deny the severity of the pandemic and discourage others from taking basic life-saving precautions to protect themselves from infection.
On Aug. 17, Roger Dale Moon, pastor of Revelation Fire Ministries in South Carolina, wrote that he did not fear COVID-19 since “the blood of Jesus that covers me stops every kind of disease or virus that tries to enter my spirit, soul and body.” He died on Oct. 19, shortly after contracting COVID-19.
Tim Parsons, pastor of Center Point Church in Lexington, Kentucky, died on Aug. 26 from COVID-19, after his church had advised members “not to worry” about the virus since God was “in control.”
So many white evangelical Christians are so openly hostile and dismissive of public health measures that users of the social media platform Reddit recently created an archive and discussion thread documenting individuals who make public declarations of their anti-mask, anti-vaccine or COVID-hoax views — and then die from the disease.
The archive is a sad and sobering catalog of Americans who have vilified Dr. Anthony Fauci, mocked mask-wearers and dismissed the danger of the very virus that eventually takes their lives.
A shocking number of church pastors appear in the archive. Recently deceased clergy members have come from all over the United States: Bob Enyart of Denver Bible Church in Colorado, Dean Kohn of Descending Dove Outreach International in California, Robert Marson of Umpqua Valley Community Fellowship in Oregon and Rob Skiba of Virtual House Church, a Texas-based online community.