Church hot zone

Sad and infuriating:

A California megachurch has found itself at the center of a coronavirus outbreak after public health officials connected it to 71 cases , even as church leaders say they have been unfairly blamed for failing to take action to stop the spread among church members.

County health officials have put Bethany Slavic Missionary church, a Pentecostal house of worship in a suburb of Sacramento, at the heart of one of the largest outbreak clusters in the country. The church is reported to be the largest Slavic congregation in the US, with 3,500 members and a total attendance at some services of up to 10,000.

The county’s public health director said that a third of all coronavirus cases in Sacramento county have been linked to places of worship. As of Thursday, health officials tallied the number of county cases at 350, with 10 deaths.

The pursuit of the phantom god is lethal. Religious wars in the 16th and 17th centuries, megachurches and “Liberty University” in the 21st.

Seventy-one of the members who tested positive live in Sacramento county, and members who live in other counties may also be infected. One parishioner has died, officials said, and a pastor indicated in an online sermon the church’s senior pastor has been hospitalized and two others are critically ill.

All for a god that doesn’t exist. Tinkerbell doesn’t exist and the god that collects people in groups to infect them with a lethal virus doesn’t exist.

Health officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but the Sacramento county public health director, Peter Beilenson, told the Los Angeles Times it is “outrageous this is happening”, adding that public health guidelines trump the freedom of religious expression.

Beilenson said Thursday that in-person services at the Slavic megachurch have now ceased.

But he said church leaders rebuffed previous attempts to discuss the cases. “They’ve basically told us to leave them alone,” Beilenson told the Sacramento Bee. “This is extremely irresponsible and dangerous for the community.”

Public health officials can’t leave them alone, any more than the fire department could if they were building huge bonfires during fire season. They’re not leaving the people of Sacramento County alone by spreading infection, so the health department can’t leave them alone.

Faith Presbyterian church, also in Sacramento, has had two parishioners die from the virus and a total of five people test positive for the virus, the Sacramento Bee reported.

Forty minutes south, in Lodi, church leaders sent the city a “cease and desist” letter after police entered the church during a service on 25 March, telling authorities the church “intends to continue to meet this Sunday and all future Wednesdays and Sundays”.

No you cease and desist.

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