American televangelist Kenneth Copeland, who recently claimed that the coronavirus pandemic will be "over much sooner you think" because "Christian people all over this country praying have overwhelmed it," has summoned the "wind of God" to destroy the novel coronavirus during a recent sermon.
Before blowing at the camera, he said: "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."
Leading a chant surrounded by members of his church and preaching to an empty room, he called out: "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."
In a sermon last month, the pastor "executed judgment" on Covid-19, which he declared "finished" and "over" and made the US "healed and well again." He also demanded "a vaccination to come immediately."
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His Texas-based Kenneth Copeland Ministries megachurch previously has claimed that viewers of his show can be healed of the virus by touching their screens, and he has urged viewers to continue paying tithes despite losing their jobs amid unprecedented unemployment claims within the last several weeks.
He also has compared the virus to the flu and suggested people who attended his services could be healed in person.
"If we have to pass out thermometers, if we find one with a fever, let's get him healed right there," he said. "What do you do if you get it? Big deal."
The pastor, who supports Donald Trump, also argued to his followers that the president's opponents had "opened the door" for the virus with their "displays of hate" against him.
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)
Several other prominent evangelical leaders in the Christian right, who rely on miraculous healing in their ministries, also have denied the pandemic in addresses to their followers.
Florida Pentecostal pastor Rodney Howard-Browne held several services in packed churches despite warnings from health officials and doctors to avoid large gatherings to prevent spreading the disease, which he called a "phantom plague" before his arrest for violating social distancing rules.
Roy Moore, who launched a failed bid endorsed by the president for a senate seat in Alabama, has defended Louisiana pastor Tony Spell after he was charged for continually shunning a statewide ban on large gatherings.
Mr Moore told his followers it's their "duty" to continue attending church services despite the pandemic.