A pastor in Alabama this week invited people who have been infected with coronavirus into his church so that they could be treated with the power of prayer, despite guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control to avoid large gatherings.
Patheos reports that Chris Bartlett, pastor of the Boaz Church of God in Boaz, Alabama, wrote a now-deleted Facebook post in which he criticized other churches for temporarily closing to help slow the spread of the disease.
"I am somewhat moved over the fact that all it takes to disassemble God‘s church is the threat of sickness by germ spreading," he wrote. "It seems the early church wouldn’t have made very far with this type of timidity."
He then vowed to make sure his own church would not be like the "timid" Christian churches that are looking out for their parishioners' personal health.
"So with boldness of faith if you have the coronavirus or feel threatened by such, you are most welcome at Boaz Church of God Sunday morning at 10 AM where we will anoint the sick with oil and pray the prayer of faith over you!"
Website Bama Politics reports that many people were outraged by Bartlett's defiance of public health guidelines, and they left comments referring to him as an "idiot" and a "monster" on his Facebook post before he deleted it.
In a followup video, Bartlett said that he would still be holding services on Sunday, but he assured parishioners that he and his staff had done their best to sterilize the church and he said that there would be a live stream of the service for anyone who didn't feel comfortable coming in.