Florida Megachurch Pastor Tells Congregants Not To Take COVID-19 Vaccine

A distinguished Florida megachurch pastor has recommended his congregants to not acquire a COVID-19 vaccine, urging them to “contemplate in divine immunity” in its place.

Guillermo Maldonado, founding pastor of the Miami-based King Jesus International Ministry and a loyal supporter of President Donald Trump, shared already debunked claims from the pulpit on Sunday in regards to the vaccine altering DNA and getting used to hint of us down. 

The Pentecostal preacher imbued these conspiracy theories with non secular significance by connecting them to his beliefs in regards to the end of the world. Pointing to verses from the Bible’s Book of Revelation, Maldonado suggested that the coronavirus vaccine would help lay the groundwork for the approaching of the Antichrist.

“Do not [take] the vaccine. Believe inside the blood of Jesus. Believe in divine immunity,” Maldonado acknowledged in a bilingual sermon that was translated reside and streamed on Facebook. 

He moreover claimed God had warned him a couple of “satanic world agenda” that is trying to find out one worldwide religion and convey the Christian church beneath governmental administration ― an idea that echoes decades-old conspiracy theories a couple of world elite secretly working to create a “new world order.” 

“They want to stop President Trump on account of he’s in opposition to that agenda,” Maldonado acknowledged.

King Jesus International Ministry did not reply to HuffPost’s request for clarification.

The Miami megachurch is the place the Trump advertising marketing campaign launched its “Evangelicals for Trump” coalition in January. The church reportedly obtained between $2 million and $5 million in forgivable loans beneath federal rescue legal guidelines designed to help small firms by way of the coronavirus pandemic.

Maldonado has turn into one factor of a star preacher in positive Latinx evangelical circles, largely on account of his televangelism and his books. King Jesus International Ministry is believed to be considered one of many largest Hispanic church buildings inside the nation, attracting a whole bunch to its firms in pre-pandemic events. Its neighborhood is boosted by plenty of affiliated congregations throughout the nation ― and by the over 800,000 of us who observe Maldonado on Facebook.

Members of Maldonado’s church will probably be influenced by his anti-vaccine teachings, according to Lloyd D. Barba, an assistant professor of religion at Amherst College and an skilled on Latinx Christian communities. 

“When a preacher collectively along with his stature mixes conspiracy thought with end time speculation and claims to have heard straight from God on social-political points, it turns into exceedingly troublesome for the devoted inside the pews to discern between what’s scripture, social commentary, political fantasy, and outright conspiracy,” Barba suggested HuffPost. “In actuality, the parsing out of those elements is discouraged.”

President Donald Trump embraces Guillermo Maldonado all through a rally of evangelical supporters on the King Jesus International Ministry church in Miami on Jan. 3, 2020.

In March, as native authorities all through the nation started to call for shutdowns to struggle COVID-19, Maldonado confronted backlash for suggesting that actually devoted believers wouldn’t be afraid to attend church specifically particular person.

The preacher’s extra moderen anti-vaccine statements replicate beliefs that aren’t basically fringe in Latinx evangelical communities, Barba acknowledged. Maldonado is part of the New Apostolic Reformation, a worldwide movement of Pentecostal leaders who see themselves as a “remnant” destined to data the world in the end events by advancing the establishment of the dominion of God. The leaders search to wield social and political have an effect on to carry out that.

Bible verses in regards to the “mark of the beast,” which Maldonado pointed to in his Sunday sermon, warn Christians a couple of future the place the Antichrist takes over the world financial system and prevents people who don’t have that mark from searching for or selling meals. Some Pentecostals have prolonged speculated that the mark of the beast would appear on earth as a vaccine or microchip designed for human implantation.

These beliefs quick Christians like Maldonado to see compulsory public nicely being measures as proof of a scheme to advance a “one-world” authorities that may set the stage for Christian persecution by way of the end events. 

Maldonado’s latest sermon fell shy of claiming that the vaccine could be the signifies that the mark of the beast is run, Barba acknowledged, nevertheless the preacher was alluding to such a threat.

“Christians are presupposed to do all they will to resist the mark of the beast (at any time when that happens) and by extension additionally wants to withstand any harbingers of it. That’s exactly what this vaccine symbolizes for Maldonado,” Barba acknowledged. 

Faith leaders, including Maldonado (far left), pray over Trump during an "Evangelicals for Trump" coalition launch at King Je

Faith leaders, along with Maldonado (far left), pray over Trump all through an “Evangelicals for Trump” coalition launch at King Jesus International Ministry on Jan. 3, 2020.

Maldonado’s technique to COVID-19 can be shaped by the prosperity gospel, a educating that is “massively frequent” amongst Latinx Pentecostals, Barba acknowledged. The prosperity gospel signifies that wealth and good nicely being are indicators of God’s favor. There’s an emphasis on divine therapeutic and God’s fastened security ― even all through a pandemic that has disproportionately impacted Latinx communities.

The coronavirus has proved to be a “stress stage” for this stress of evangelical notion, Barba acknowledged.

“The indisputable fact that they have not been able to administration the pandemic of their very personal church buildings and on this nation challenges the teachings of divine therapeutic and administration over the ‘evil’ elements on this world such as a result of the virus,” he acknowledged.

Miami-Dade County, the place King Jesus International Ministry depends, has seen higher than 240,000 COVID-19 situations and nearly 4,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracker.

The Florida Department of Health has recorded over 1 million coronavirus situations ― the third-highest case rely inside the nation. More than 19,000 Floridians have died from the virus. 

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