Pastor tells congregation to catch virus, ‘get it over with’

Michigan

Update:

HOLLAND, Mich. (AP/WOOD) — The senior pastor of a church in western Michigan has encouraged his congregation to catch the coronavirus to “get it over with” and calling it “all good.”

The Holland Sentinel reports that Bart Spencer made the statements during a Nov. 14 sermon at Lighthouse Baptist Church in Holland. The sermon was posted on the church’s website and shared on Facebook.

“It’s a virus. You can’t go get it. And you can’t keep from getting it,” Spencer said in an interview with News 8. “Everybody has an individual liberty and you can believe whoever you want to believe.”

Spencer later told the newspaper that he and several members of his family contracted the virus and have recovered.

He told News 8 Friday night he stands by his comments.

“You don’t know how you get it because it’s a virus. You don’t know how to stay away from it and you don’t know how to get it. Because if you social distance, you’ll still get it,” Spencer said to News 8. “We don’t know, that’s the whole point. So you don’t give up your freedoms and liberties for a subjective. We just don’t know what’s going on.”

As of Friday, more than 389,000 virus cases have been confirmed in Michigan. More than 9,600 people have died from the virus.

“The idea is not to be afraid of it. Listen to the message, you’ll be OK. Everything is going to be OK. You’re going to be fine,” he said.

Spencer’s words are a direct contradiction to the messaging put out by the Ottawa County Health Department.

“We do not advise anyone to go out and get COVID,” said Kristina Wieghmink with the Ottawa County Department of Public Health. “We advise people to do just the opposite.”

Wieghmink said combatting misinformation has become an important part of preventing further spread of the virus.

“Whether it’s from people you trust and know or on social media… (misinformation) has been a huge problem throughout this pandemic.

Wieghmink said the health department is aware of the comments made in Spencer’s sermon, but has not contacted him about the matter.

“Our message here at the health department is to not gamble with chances here, don’t actively go out and seek COVID-19,” Wieghmink said when asked the health department’s response to Spencer’s message.

Original: 12/4

HOLLAND, Mich. (AP) — The senior pastor of a church in western Michigan has encouraged his congregation to catch the coronavirus to “get it over with” and calling it “all good.”

The Holland Sentinel reports that Bart Spencer made the statements during a Nov. 14 sermon at Lighthouse Baptist Church in Holland.

The sermon was posted on the church’s website and shared on Facebook.

Spencer later told the newspaper that he and several members of his family contracted the virus and have recovered.

As of Thursday, 380,343 virus cases have been confirmed in Michigan. More than 9,500 people have died from the virus.

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