Believe it or not, the looniest thing we’ve seen from the fundie world since the explosion of coronavirus wasn’t a conspiracy theory. It involved Jim Bakker’s claim that his bogus silver solution could stop the coronavirus beast in its tracks. Following heavy pressure from the federal government, as well as the states of New York and Missouri, Bakker abruptly pulled his “Silver Sol” off his online shelves on Wednesday night. Missouri, however, still plans to continue its lawsuit against him to make him think twice about hawking this snake oil again.
It would take some effort for a fundie to get anywhere near as unhinged and dangerous at this. But one preacher is certainly trying. He insists that coronavirus is Satan’s latest trick to scare us into his clutches.
You may remember that when the Ukraine scandal mushroomed, the nation’s so-called moral guardians were yelling to the heavens that the whole thing amounted to a demonic attack on Trump. Among them was pastor and evangelist Perry Stone. He claimed that Trump’s pursuers were showing unmistakable signs of being demonically possessed, and warned that if they don’t leave him alone, Christians may just have to sic God on them.
But this was a model of sanity compared to what Stone said to those who showed up for his Thursday night “Firehouse Prayer” gathering at his church, Omega Center International in Cleveland, Tennessee. While ramping up the spiritual warfare against coronavirus, Stone said–with a straight face–that coronavirus is a demonic tool intended to frighten us into taking the mark of the beast ahead of the Great Tribulation. People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch got a clip.
Over 40 minutes into the stream, Stone told his audience that the devil was using coronavirus to kill off those who won’t take the mark of the beast. He likened it to how the Amalekites frequently ravaged the Israelites in the Old Testament. Stone noted that the Amalekites tried to slip in from behind and kill “the old, the weak, and the feeble” among the Israelites before they could get to the Promised Land.
Now what does this have to do with coronavirus? Well, the people who are most in danger from this scourge are those over 60. To Stone’s mind, it wasn’t a coincidence that the elderly were the most in danger, since they were “established in the Bible” and knew enough not to take the mark of the beast.
According to Stone, younger generations are more inclined to take the mark, thinking that they can “open a door” just by waving their hand. The only way they’ll resist, Stone argued, is if they’re taught. As he saw it, the devil is targeting “older people in America in the Southeast,” since they are more “conservative people” who supposedly know the dangers of taking the mark.
Now why is the devil working overtime on this? Well, according to Stone, it’s all in the name of ushering in socialism.
If you get rid of all of those people who resist the Beast, and resist the Antichrist, and resist the system, then you have a whole other socialist, pro-communist, give-me-your-money-and-I’ll-do-what-I-want-with-it group coming up. You see them. They’re out there, 35 percent of America is into it. And they have no respect for those older people who have made this country great.
Um, Perry? If coronavirus is intended to kill off those who won’t take the mark of the beast, then how do you explain Iran? As of this writing, some 12,700 people have been infected in Iran, with over 600 people dying–in both cases, the third most in the world, behind China and Italy.
According to official figures, Iran is over 99 percent Muslim. It’s likely that figure is inflated, given how hostile Iran is to non-Muslims. But even allowing for that, at most, there are only 500,000 Christians in a country of over 83 million people. At those figures, it’s highly unlikely the devil is wiping out Iranians who don’t want to take the mark of the beast.
Moreover, ground zero for coronavirus in the United States isn’t the Southeast. It’s the West Coast–specifically, Washington state.
This sort of disinformation is exactly how coronavirus became a scourge in the first place. Remember, officials in Wuhan province, where the disease first mushroomed, undertook a concerted effort to hide the truth about the situation. It’s very likely that had we known the truth, coronavirus wouldn’t have mushroomed into the worldwide beast it has now become.
Earlier this week, Pew Research revealed that some 61 percent of white evangelicals consider Trump to be a morally upstanding person. How is this possible, in the face of all evidence to the contrary? Well, claptrap like what Stone fed his flock on Thursday is part of the answer.
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