- Bart Spencer, the senior pastor at the Lighthouse Baptist Church in Michigan, encouraged churchgoers in a November sermon to contract the virus and “get it over with.”
- He also falsely said “none have died” from the coronavirus.
- More than 10,300 people have died from the coronavirus in Michigan, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.
- Since his November sermon, Spencer has continued to encourage people to show up to his in-person sermons without a mask, despite receiving backlash for his November comments and despite recommendations from health officials to practice safety measures.
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A Michigan pastor in November told churchgoers to get the coronavirus “over with” and said “none have died” from the disease, according to a local report from the Holland Sentinel.
Bart Spencer, senior pastor at the Lighthouse Baptist Church in Holland, Michigan, delivered “irresponsible” remarks, a Facebook user wrote, according to the Sentinel.
“COVID, it’s all good. Several people have had COVID, none have died yet,” Spencer said in a November 14 sermon. “It’s OK. Get it, get it over with, press on.”
More than 10,300 people have died from the coronavirus in Michigan, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.
In an interview with the Sentinel, Spencer said he and his family members had contracted the virus and survived.
“It’s not fun, I lost my sense of taste and smell, but my bout with the flu was worse,” he said.
The Lighthouse Baptist Church has been holding in-person services and congregations, with many people choosing not to wear masks or follow social distancing guidelines.
In a December 2 sermon posted on the church website, Spencer said “the GOP” called him to ask why he’s “overtly disobeying the order of public gatherings.” The person he spoke with, whose name he didn’t give in the sermon, said he’d fine the church $1,200 and $1,000 “for each member if the sheriff has to come in.”
“We simply trust people to make their own decisions,” Spencer said in the sermon. “You have a complete right and privilege to believe whatever you want to believe.”
“If you believe that you need to quarantine, hide in the corner of your room, for the next eon or plus, that’s fine, I respect that. But you have to respect that I’m not afraid,” he continued. “You have to respect that I’m not concerned with that.”
Spencer also told his churchgoers in the sermon that mask-wearing and social distancing are choices they can make for themselves.
Health officials and organizations have recommended and encouraged taking measures like mask-wearing and social distancing to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
“Masks offer some protection to you and are also meant to protect those around you, in case you are unknowingly infected with the virus that causes COVID-19,” says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
Spencer on Friday defended his comments in an interview with WXMI, a Fox affiliate.
“I would never tell them to go get sick, but you don’t know how you’re going to get it,” he said.