(TMU) — As the U.S. finds itself the global epicenter of the deadly coronavirus, it’s no surprise that many Americans have turned to religion to seek solace in the face of a pandemic that’s become nearly biblical in scope.
And while many Christian churches and religious leaders have defied state lockdown orders to gather their congregants at churches, evangelical leaders like prosperity preacher Kenneth Copeland have been comfortable giving sermons through their usual medium—on television.
However, the controversial pastor’s latest antics have been raising eyebrows after he claimed he could take down the coronavirus by channeling the “wind of God” through his very own lungs.
Telling his TV audience that the pandemic would be “over much sooner than you think” because “Christian people all over this country praying have overwhelmed it,” Copeland deployed his latest trick in the fight to contain the deadly disease.
Surrounded by members of his church and sermonizing to an empty room, he began invoking the almighty, saying:
“Wind, almighty, strong, south wind, Heat: Burn this thing, in the name of Jesus. I say, you bow your knees. You fall on your face.”
Before blowing at the camera, the Forth Worth-based preacher proclaimed:
”I blow the wind of God on you. You are destroyed forever, and you’ll never be back. Thank you, God. Let it happen. Cause it to happen.”
1. Copeland declares the wind of God to blow to destroy COVID-19. 2. He then says it doesn’t have to be a fast wind. 3. Then the Lord tells him “It’s even better if there’s no wind at all. 🤔 🤷♂️ pic.twitter.com/tFWc7Mv8lD
— Brandon Kimber (@BKimber) April 4, 2020
Copeland, who has been in the business for 52 years through his Kenneth Copeland Ministries megachurch, has been accused of being a shameless snake-oil salesman who spouts untruths for the sake of raising tithes.
The religious leader—who has his own private jet, airstrip, and hangar—is estimated to have a net worth of roughly $760 million.
In recent weeks, Copeland told viewers who generously continue paying tithes amid record-shattering unemployment rates that they can cure themselves of the novel virus simply by touching their screens while watching his programs.
Last month, the pastor “executed judgment” on CoViD-19, declaring the disease “finished” and “over” while claiming he made the U.S. “healed and well again.” Copeland also demanded “a vaccination to come immediately.”
Copeland has scandalized critics with claims that the public response to the coronavirus has been over-hyped and based on fear, describing the disease as a “very weak strain of flu” without offering proof of the claim.
In a Facebook Live broadcast of his Victory News report last month, the pastor said:
“It (coronavirus) is so weak their symptoms are almost alike.
Some people had it and didn’t even know it. They just haven’t found the way to knock that thing in the head yet.”
Join us tonight as Kenneth Copeland, Gene Bailey and Greg Stephens discuss the Coronavirus/COVID-19. They will break down the facts regarding the virus, dispel the fear and mass hysteria, and build your faith in the power of the WORD of God to protect and heal.
Posted by Kenneth Copeland Ministries on Wednesday, March 11, 2020
Earlier, the pastor said that those who attend his services can be healed in person, adding:
“If we have to pass out thermometers, if we find one with a fever, let’s get him healed right there … What do you do if you get it? Big deal.”
A fervent supporter of Donald Trump—whom he describes as a “King”—Copeland has also claimed that the president’s detractors have “opened the door” for the virus through their alleged “displays of hate” against him.
Copeland’s latest stunt comes amid a wave of prominent Christian preachers defying warnings from local governments and health officials to stop holding mass events at their churches and risk becoming outbreak clusters.
In California’s Sacramento County, home of the seat of state government, the Bethany Slavic Missionary church has been found to be linked to upwards of 70 cases of coronavirus, making the Pentecostal megachurch one of the largest outbreak clusters in the United States.
Meanwhile, Florida Pentecostal pastor Rodney Howard-Browne held a number of services in defiance of warnings from doctors and health authorities to stop potentially spreading the disease, which he called a “phantom plague” before he was finally arrested for flouting rules on social distancing.