Pastor Robert Jeffress responded to reports of a coronavirus outbreak at his church, during the same time that Mike Pence attended a service there, by attacking the left and whining about “fake science.” He expressed no concern about the health of his parishioners.
The discussion started with anchor Mike Emanuel noting that California is “temporarily banning singing and chanting in churches and other houses of worship” due to an increased likelihood of transmission of COVID-19.
Then, just in case anyone might miss the message of Christian martyrdom and divisive grievance, Emanuel added, “Well, there’s been plenty of singing and chanting at recent protests in California and across the country. Let’s discuss the apparent differing standards for religious services vs. public demonstrations.”
Emanuel cited a recent BuzzFeed News article about the outbreak at Jeffress’ church – which is in Dallas, not California.
EMANUEL: From BuzzFeed, the headline: “The Coronavirus Spread In A Dallas Megachurch’s Choir & Orchestra, Then It Hosted Mike Pence. A group of First Baptist choir and orchestra members contracted COVID-19 in the lead-up to Vice President Mike Pence’s visit on Sunday. An infectious disease expert called it ‘appalling.’” Pastor Jeffress, let me give you a chance to respond.
But Emanuel left out the most important details of the BuzzFeed article. I know, because I wrote about this matter for Crooks and Liars recently:
As BuzzFeed News reported, five members of the choir and orchestra at Dallas’ First Baptist Church tested positive for coronavirus and one more exposed orchestra member was symptomatic and awaiting a test result. None were present during Pence’s 90-minute visit on Sunday but chances are some who did perform had been exposed.
Yet they performed without masks and many remained unmasked when they were neither playing nor singing.
BuzzFeed noted that neither group of performers was socially distanced.
In other words, there was an outbreak at the church, members of the choir and orchestra were likely exposed to those who tested positive, yet all members were allowed to go maskless and un-distanced during the service that Pence attended, even as Texas is in the middle of an all-time high outbreak. Church choirs are especially risky for spreading the disease.
Yet Emanuel didn’t ask and Jeffress didn’t say anything about the health of those infected. Instead, Jeffress went on a hate-filled rant of his critics. Just as Jesus would have done, I’m sure!
JEFFRESS: Look, we take the pandemic very seriously here in Dallas. We had 1,085 new cases today but we took precautions that we weren’t required to for last Sunday. We limited the choir to 50% attendance, we took temperature checks of everyone, we prohibited anybody who had COVID-19 or had been close with somebody who had it from participating.
And yet, you know they criticize us as being spreaders of the disease and yet they say nothing about thousands of protesters in the streets, packed like sardines together, yelling at the top of their lungs and I guess, somehow, they’re magically protected from the coronavirus as long as they’re damning the police and damning Donald Trump. And look, people say well that’s outside, that’s different. Well, if it’s safe being outside, why are they shutting down the beaches right now?
The fact is, Mike, any so-called science that promotes protests but prohibits church services is fake science and ought to be rejected.
Nice sleight of hand there, Pastor. Protests and beaches have nothing to do with your maskless, un-socially distanced choir and orchestra with members likely exposed to coronavirus.
Not surprisingly, Emanuel said nothing to challenge the whataboutism.
The other guest, Dr. Marty Makary, spoke out about the dangers of singing in an enclosed space. He pointedly noted that “some” churches have done a great job with safety, without naming Jeffress’ First Baptist church. But Makary did not call out the shockingly risky behavior of Jeffress, a fellow Fox News contributor and a Trump worshiper. Nor did he note that taking temperature is only partially effective in screening out coronavirus carriers.
And, of course, nobody called out Jeffress for his very un-Christian spiel about “fake science.”
Emanuel never asked about masks at Jeffress’ church. Instead, he continued the Christian-victimhood theme: “A lot of faith leaders feel like there’s been a double standard between public protests and worship, though.” Then he played a clip a Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti saying that some of the surge in cases there has probably come from protesters and that precautions must be taken everywhere.
If anything, that disproved the “double standard” complaint. Even Jeffress said he agreed with much of what Garcetti said. “I think there’s a way to do church safely, like we’re doing it, with temperature checks, social distancing, strongly encouraging mask. But I would remind people that the same First Amendment that protects the right to protest also protects the right to worship. You can’t have one without the other.”
Apparently, the First Amendment also protects the right of someone to infect other churchgoers by going maskless.
But Makary never got a chance to respond further because Oops, time's up!
I certainly hope there is no further outbreak at Jeffress’ church. But I will be surprised if there isn’t.
Meanwhile, you can watch Jeffress’ play the victim after needlessly exposing Pence and other attendees at his service below, from the July 3, 2020 Fox News @ Night.
Feel free to sing along with me once the election results are announced.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsaTElBljOE Rest in peace Gary DeCarlo :-)