COVID-19 Doesn’t Play

I haven’t posted for awhile because I tested positive for COVID-19. It started out mild but then hit me hard. While I was able to stay home, I did feel pretty sick for about a week. While I am off quarantine now, I am still tired and don’t feel quite back to normal. Overall though, I feel blessed to have stayed out of the hospital.

I feel more certain than ever that mask wearing is necessary and churches should stop clutching their rights to meet together. We only have a few more months until a vaccine is widely available. Surely, we can wait a few more months to get together in large groups.

 

Eric Metaxas Promotes Donald Trump’s Last-Ditch Effort to Destabilize Election

On his Facebook page, author and Trump die hard Eric Metaxas is promoting Donald Trump’s last-ditch effort to get Republican legislators not to certify the election results in states where Joe Biden won.

OKAY, THIS SHOULD MAKE IT EASIER STILL! ALL EMAIL ADDRESSES AND A SAMPLE LETTER YOU CAN USE! PLEASE DO THIS AND PLEASE SHARE!
**
Dear Friends!
I just did an interview with Dick Morris which is posted here, but the MOST important part of it is so important that I will stop at nothing to get this message out. It’s all at the bottom and I’ve made it as easy as possible for you, with all the email addresses and a SAMPLE LETTER.
Dick has DAILY been on the phone with the president, and BOTH of them are convinced that if the votes are counted accurately the president won this election. This is not partisan politics, this is about preserving our form of government. If we cannot trust that our votes are being counted accurately, we have lost the republic!
So here is what Dick and President Trump are asking EVERYONE to do, and what I personally am asking you to do.
Every American must please write an email — or an actual letter if you like — to each Republican Legislative Leaders (their email info etc. is ALL listed below for you) in GA, PA, WI, MI, and AZ, asking them to INSIST — which is their Constitutional Duty as you will see below — that ALL signatures in their states are verified.
I am begging you, dear fellow Americans, to do this one thing for your republic, because our republic depends on it. People have often asked me what can I do to KEEP THE REPUBLIC. You can do this now. Will you?
Please please do this duty now and tell everyone you know to do it. It is not asking very much considering the stakes.
God bless you.
Eric’s Signature
Eric Metaxas

Republican observers have been involved all along. In Georgia, the Secretary of State is a Republican. According to the Department of Homeland Security, the 2020 election was the most secure in history. Metaxas has no proof of irregularities; he is a blind follower.

Metaxas wants his followers to send legislators in each of the battleground states the following email:

Here is the SAMPLE LETTER you might wish to use! You can cut and past it exactly as it is or you can personalize it with the name of the person to whom you are addressing it, etc.
**
Dear GOP State Legislative Leader:
Because the U.S. Constitution (Art II Sec 1) provides “that each state shall appoint, in such manner as the legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors, equal to the whole number of senators and representatives to which the state may be entitled in the congress” I am boldly asking you to do your solemn duty toward protecting integrity in this vitally important election by NOT certifying any electors UNTIL your state audits the election results with a full recount, with Republican observers no more than three feet away, and with full verification of signatures and the dates on which the ballots were received.
Our nation now critically depends on you doing your duty to insure that “we the people” are convinced everything has been done to the utmost level of integrity, lest the nation’s citizens lose trust in their most important institutions, and we lose the republic forever. You have a charge to keep and I ask you firmly and humbly please to do your duty in keeping it.
God bless you.
Your Name Here
END LETTER
***
OKAY? I hope that helps you get this done! Please do this today or tomorrow! And please tell EVERYONE you know to do the same. It is a small thing to ask when you realize what is at stake, and no matter how this election goes you will know you’ve done all you could. I just did it to every name on the list. Now it’s your turn!
God bless you.

Eric Metaxas

The ongoing legal effort to find fraud has been unsuccessful. This strategy involves getting Republicans to find enough Democratic votes to disqualify to make Trump the winner.

A more ominous aspect of this strategy was sounded by Trump (and John MacArthur) lawyer Jenna Ellis:

Can you imagine the chaos which would result if the legislator appointed Trump electors after Biden won the state? What a brazen power grab Ellis anticipates here. Millions of Michigan voters would be disenfranchised if she gets her way.

The votes have been counted. A “huge win for Donald Trump” would be a huge loss for our Republic. I continue to believe these efforts will fail, but it is stunning to see them being conducted in broad daylight.

On the subject of countering myths about voter fraud, this U.S. government website on cybersecurity is a gem. 

L.A. County Concludes Workplace Investigation of Grace Community Church; COVID-19 Requirements Still Binding on Church

Recently, Grace Community Church posted this on their website

Outbreak Restrictions Lifted

We are glad to announce that we received a notice from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health on Thursday, November 12, saying that we have been cleared of COVID-19 outbreak. After a thorough investigation, Public Health officials have decided to rescind all outbreak related requirements and restrictions on Grace Community Church.

The L.A. County Department of Public Health doesn’t quite see it that way. I asked them for a reaction to this statement and they sent the following response to me exclusively tonight.

Please see the department of Public Heath’s response:

Public Health’s investigation into the Grace Community Church worksite COVID-19 outbreak was recently concluded.  The Church is still required to follow all current Health Officer Order requirements for places of worship, which include outdoor services, as well as all applicable infection control protocols for all activities that occur on the Grace Community Church campus.  Public Health has found that Sun Valley has among the higher rates of COVID-19 transmission in the County of Los Angeles.  Compliance with the required infection control protocols by Grace Community Church will lessen the risk of COVID-19 transmission to its employees and visitors.

Grace Community Church starting at the top has been marked by non-compliance with mask wearing and social distancing. Pastor John MacArthur has communicated bogus COVID-19 prevalence statistics and denied there is a pandemic.

All restrictions on Grace church have not been rescinded. The leaders and people of Grace are simply ignoring them. There are or were 5 employees who contracted COVID-19 recently and there is an outbreak at The Master’s University as well. The Health Order has not been rescinded; Grace Church is simply refusing to follow it.

 

 

Indian Government Alleges K.P. Yohannan and Believers Church Misused Church Funds

The raids on Believers Church properties in India continued Friday with the Indian government seizing nearly a million dollars in currency and alleging fraud and misuse of funds.

The media in India are reporting the church as a scam:

Trusts formed under Believers Church have received Rs 6000 cr ($810,679,320 usd) from abroad within the last 5 years. As per the law, the foreign fund received for charity must be used only for that purpose and the details must be informed to the government…Irregularities were also found in the accounts produced, reported the IT department.

For copyright reasons, I can’t reproduce them, but in this Mayalayam report, photos of the seized cash are provided.

Although unsourced, this report appears to quote someone from the Believers Church denying that the funds seized in a priest’s car belonged to the church or was any kind of “black money.”

The tax authority released this statement:

The Income Tax Department has carried out search and seizure operations on 05.11.2020 in the case of a well-known self-styled evangelist of Thiruvalla in Kerala and his group of various trusts that enjoy exemption under the Income-tax Act, 1961 as charitable/religious trusts. The group operates places of worship, a number of schools and colleges across the country, a medical college and a hospital in Kerala. The action covered 66 premises located in Kerala, Tamilnadu, West Bengal, Karnataka, Chandigarh, Punjab and Telengana.

The searches were carried out as credible information was received that the group has received donations from foreign countries ostensibly for helping the poor and the destitute and for evangelical purposes, but was actually siphoning out such tax-exempted funds in cash to engage in unaccounted cash transactions for personal and other illegal expenses in real estate transactions.

The group operates about 30 trusts, registered across the country, and most of them exist only on paper and have been found to be used for routing the unaccounted funds and for accommodation transactions.

It has been found that the modus operandi of the group is to systematically inflate expenses with the help of other parties, who would return the inflated amount in cash through domestic hawala channels to the functionaries of the group. Some of these other parties were also covered in the search action. During the search action, evidences have been found of systematic inflation of expenses in purchase of consumables, construction expenses, real estate development expenses, payment of salary, etc.

The search has led to unearthing of a number of real estate transactions involving unaccounted cash payments. Related documents such as sale agreements, etc have been seized. The group has also inflated the price in real estate transactions to show as if the money received in donations is being spent on the activities of the trusts. The evidence found so far indicate that the siphoning of funds in cash may be running into hundreds of crores of rupees.

Unexplained cash of approximately Rs. 6 crore has also been found during the search, including Rs 3.85 crore in a place of worship in Delhi.

Substantial electronic computing and data storage has been found, which is being examined. Further investigations are going on.

See my post from earlier today.

Government Raids Believers Church & K.P. Yohannan in India Over Foreign Contributions

In other news…

According to reports out of India, the government raided the headquarters of Believers’ Church and K.P. Yohannan in Thiruvalla, Kerala.

The raid was carried out by the Income Tax division and occurred at both Yohannan’s office and residence. Specifically, Believers Church allegedly has continued to received foreign contributions after the government revoked their registration to do so. I have reported on that since I learned the registration was revoked.

According to this Malayalam report translated with Google translate, raids took place in other Believers Church locations around India. Authorities are looking for evidence that Believers Church continued to accept foreign donations in violation of the law.

There can be no question that Yohannan and Gospel for Asia have continued to solicit donations for India after their registration was revoked. GFA has never informed donors that the registration in India was revoked which prohibits foreign funds entering to GFA and Believers Church in India.

According to one source close to the church, a priest was discovered with a large sum of cash in his car as a result of this raid. The raid just happened this morning and this is a developing story.

According to this report, phones and other materials have been seized in a massive raid.

Gospel for Asia and Believers Church lost their charity registration to take in foreign contributions in 2017. Since then I have been asking the U.S. charity how they are getting American donations to India. I never get a response. In fact, there are numerous NGOs in India which do nothing but accept funds from the U.S. and funnel them to Believers Church and Yohannan’s interests. GFA has never informed donors outside of India that their donations cannot legally go to India. Despite these restrictions, Yohannan and GFA have continued to solicit donations for Indian causes.

Trump’s Denial of Election Reality: Will Court Evangelicals Play Along?

Last night Donald Trump said he believed the election was being stolen from him and today tweeted this:

As in every other election, mail in and absentee ballots are being counted today and will be added to the totals. There are more of them this year due to record numbers of ballots being cast in this manner. Ballots haven’t appeared in a “surprise ballot dump.” Either Trump is ignorant or deliberately attempting to destabilize the nation.

Will evangelicals who support Trump buy into this?

Charlie Kirk of Liberty University’s Falkirk Center does:

Franklin Graham is lending credibility to this delusion:

Paula White, of course:

John Fea has a post on this same topic, check it out.

Greg Thornbury has this reaction:

Owen Strachan jumps in:

And of course Etic “Punch and Run” Metaxas punches and runs:

Metaxas in particular is melting down.

Evangelical leaders who have made their bed with Trump will not go quietly into the night. No matter what the damage is to the faith, they will continue to enable Trump’s delusions. It is shameful but predictable given where they have been for the last four years.

In my view, preachers don’t have any specific expertise to add to what is going on with election counting. It is taking place as it always has. What they should do is simply reinforce the beauty of our system that we count every vote. What they shouldn’t do is rebroadcast and reinforce baseless conspiracies about stolen elections.

If you see other evangelicals promoting this delusion, put a link in the comments.

Grace Community Church and The Master’s University Have Outbreaks of COVID-19 (UPDATED with Church Response)

(UPDATE 10/27) A fifth case of COVID-19 is now associated with Grace Community Church, you can check the case numbers here.

………………………………

(UPDATE) According to an email that went out to the Grace Community, the people who have COVID are part-time employees.

You may have seen a report on the news claiming that there is a COVID-19 outbreak at our church. There is no outbreak at Grace Church. We have three, part-time employees who tested positive and are now recovering at home, having never been hospitalized. As we enter the flu season, we encourage you to stay home if you are not feeling well or have COVID-19-like symptoms. We are going to meet for worship this Sunday to celebrate the Lord’s Table together.

Do those employees also attend the church? This statement raises as many questions as it answers.

………………………

(UPDATE) Jenna Ellis, attorney for Grace Community Church just released this statement in response to the LA Times article about the COVID outbreak at the church:

Three very mild positive tests among more than 7000 people is hardly news. 0.0004% is not an ‘outbreak.’ The LA Times and others’ grossly misleading and fear-mongering headlines aim to mischaracterize Grace Community Church as irresponsible and a superspreader. It has never been the Church’s position that it is only safe to hold services if no one ever tests positive, or for example, if no one ever gets the flu during flu season. Our position has been that LA County shutting down churches indefinitely amid a virus with a 99.98% survival rate, especially when state-preferred businesses are open and protests are held without restriction, is unconstitutional and harmful to the free exercise of religion.

I wrote the public relations firm back to inform them that the actual percentage is .043% (3 divided by 7000 multiplied by 100). If they issue a correction, I will note it. Perhaps this is why MacArthur continues to cite incorrect prevalence figures for CA.

(UPDATE) – The public relations firm wrote back and acknowledged the math error.

Ellis also has the survival rate wrong. It isn’t correct to speak about surviving an illness you have never had. She incorrectly refers to the number of deaths as a proportion of the population. However, she is incorrect there as well. Her number (.02%) would lead to a death toll of 65,000 deaths. The COVID death toll is just over 224,000. The number of cases is about 8.6 million. The fatality rate among people who have had the illness stands at about 2.5%. The actual fatality rate may be lower, but it isn’t as low as Ellis and company want you to believe.

The term outbreak has a precise definition taken from the California Department of Health. Here is the definition:

  • In non-residential congregate settings, e.g., workplaces, adult and child daycare facilities, K-12 schools and colleges/universities:
    • At least three probable or confirmed COVID-19 cases* within a 14-day period in people who are epidemiologically-linked† in the setting, are from different households, and are not identified as close contacts‡ of each other in any other case investigation.

……………..

The L.A. Times reported late yesterday that three cases of COVID-19 are now associated with Grace Community Church in Sun Valley. This is John MacArthur’s church where the members don’t wear masks or keep a safe distance.

In addition, MacArthur’s college, The Master’s University reported two cases of COVID-19 on campus. According to a source close to the college, a third case was discovered within the past two days. Apparently, there is something to this coronavirus.

Pastor John MacArthur is in a court battle with Los Angeles County over a health order forbidding indoor worship in the county. He once told his congregation that it was good news that they were not wearing masks and were not social distancing. He also has declared that there is not a pandemic based on faulty statistics about the prevalence of COVID-19 in CA.

Julie Roys reminded me of this fact from the past. Two people died as a result of attending John MacArthur’s Shepherd Conference in March. In addition to these fatalities, there was also a couple who became quite ill and was hospitalized in the Spring.

 

North Carolina: Churches Associated with 76 COVID-19 Outbreaks, 1,040 Cases, and 13 Deaths

As of October 21, NC will report clusters by location. Since May, religious gatherings have accounted for 76 clusters, 1040 cases and 13 deaths. According to the data shown in the chart below, religious gatherings are the third greatest source of cases associated with clusters behind meat packing plants and colleges.

I reported similar numbers from Georgia a few weeks ago.  I am keeping track of outbreaks in churches at this page:

Churches and the Spread of COVID-19

As of October 22, 2020, I count 552 religious gatherings associated with at least 6,724 cases of COVID-19 and 88 deaths in the U.S.

While Sean Feucht and others engage in potential superspreader events around the country, some churches are dealing with serious outbreaks and death of members.

 

A Conversation with Greg Thornbury: Wokeness, COVID Truthiness, the Consequences of Trumpism and Much More

My series of blogcasts this summer was fun and well received so I thought I would follow up with some additional conversations. The first one drops today and features Greg Thornbury, Vice President for Development at New York Academy of Art in NYC. Greg was once president of The King’s College in NYC and has a long history in evangelical institutions. I continue to get positive feedback about our first interview.

Greg and I discuss Eric Metaxas’ punch and run episode, COVID truthers, Al Mohler’s shift to Trumpism, the meaning of the recent conservative attacks on wokeness, and the potential bitter consequences of Trumpism.

Hope you find something of interest and enjoy the conversation. Please feel free to comment below.

Gregory Alan Thornbury, Ph.D., has been a college philosophy and theology professor, dean, and president of The King’s College in New York City. In addition to several books on theology and culture, he is the author of Why Should The Devil Have All the Good Music: Larry Norman and the Perils of Christian Rock (Random House, 2018) – a critically acclaimed biography that has been reviewed by The New York Times, The New Yorker, National Public Radio, and was awarded as the most influential book in arts and culture by Christianity Today for 2019. A popular writer and speaker on philosophy, religion, and the arts, he currently serves as Senior Vice President at the New York Academy of Art in Tribeca, founded by Andy Warhol. He is also a consultant for Good Country Pictures, who is currently working on film adaptations of the short stories and novels of Willa Cather, Walker Percy, and Flannery O’Connor for film and television.

You can see all posts about these interviews by clicking this link.

Also subscribe to my Psychvideos Youtube channel where I host them.