In recent weeks, the term “flatten the curve” has become part of the American lexicon. As the coronavirus outbreak mushrooms, public health experts have stressed the need to take measures to avoid overloading the nation’s health care system in the event more people get sick.
Watch Dr. Aaron Carroll of Healthcare Triage explain the importance of flattening the curve here.
We need only look at what happened in China, Italy and Spain to see what can happen when the virus spreads so fast that a country’s hospitals can’t keep up. The concern is magnified by the fact that this outbreak mushroomed in the middle of flu season, a trying time for hospitals even in a normal year.
This is why we’ve seen calls for people to practice “social distancing”–keeping at least six feet away from each other, if all possible. It’s why we’ve seen governors, as well as mayors and county leaders, ban mass gatherings or strongly recommend their postponement. As a result, a number of decent-sized churches across the country have opted to forgo in-person services for the time being.
One would have thought that given the amount of dangerous misinformation about coronavirus, Donald Trump’s most prominent supporters from the pulpit would have been loath to join in the effort to flatten the curve. But at least one very rabid Trumpvangelical pastoral team has seen reason. Namely, Hank and Brenda Kunneman, the so-called prophets who lead Lord of Hosts Church in Omaha.
You may know the Kunnemans for claiming that the effort to impeach Trump would “boomerang” back on the Democrats. They even went as far as to try to “hush” the impeachment effort. But on Friday, Hank announced that Lord of Hosts would not be holding in-person services on Sunday, but streaming their services online.
The following night, Brenda chimed in with some clarification. This decision was made in response to Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts recommending against mass gatherings of more than 250 people. In so doing, she directly knocked down some of the most common right-wing arguments against calls to flatten the curve.
The Kunnemans are as rabidly pro-Trump as any pastors out there. Yet, they had the sense to realize that they couldn’t go on as normal. The same can’t be said for another prominent general in the Trumpvangelical Army, Rick Joyner. His megachurch, MorningStar Ministries, is based out of Jim Bakker’s former Heritage USA complex in Fort Mill, South Carolina–just over the state line from Charlotte.
Joyner was almost certainly aware that North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper had banned all mass gatherings of 100 or more people in the state, after strongly recommending four days earlier that they be postponed or canceled. He almost certainly knows that the great majority of his flock comes from over the state line in Charlotte. That’s what makes his decision to continue a full schedule of services incomprehensible. Watch a stream of the early service at MorningStar here, and watch the 11 am service here.
Simply put, this is the height of irresponsibility. A megachurch pastor based just over the border from a state that has just formalized “flatten the curve” requirements thinks he can continue on as normal? That’s several thousand people going over the South Carolina state line and back, creating what amounts to a slow leak along the state line.
God forbid that anyone gets coronavirus as a result of this. Were that to happen, not even the most warped interpretation of the First Amendment would protect Joyner from what would be a well-deserved amount of legal hurt.
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