'Faith-healing' megachurch cancels hospital sessions over coronavirus fears

A megachurch in California that regularly conducts "faith-healing" sessions at local hospitals apparently doesn't believe the power of prayer is strong enough to cure coronavirus.

The Bethel Church in Redding, California, which serves as the spiritual home to an estimated 6,300 weekly worshipers, announced this week that it is canceling its regularly scheduled visits to hospitals as fears of the coronavirus pandemic take hold.

The Sacramento Bee reports that Bethel Church believes that its followers' prayers are capable of not only healing sick people but also "raising the dead." Now, however, the church is "advising the faithful to wash their hands, urging those who feel sick to stay home, canceling missionary trips and advising its faith healers to stay away from local hospitals."

The church says that it is in contact with local health officials and is working with them in their efforts to contain the spread of the virus, although so far it says it has no plans to cancel its weekly services.

"Through email communications, signage, and church announcements, we are actively encouraging health practices and precautions to our whole community," Aaron Tesauro, a church spokesman, tells the Sacramento Bee. "We believe that wisdom, modern medicine, and faith are meant to work together, and express the value for each in the pursuit of continued health and healing."