It is disheartening in a time when people call on their religious faith to give them peace about a calamity as frightening as the coronavirus outbreak that a Cleveland, Tennessee, televangelist would describe the outbreak as God's retribution for the United States allowing abortion and same-sex marriage.
Such comments — among the many he has made about the virus, its causes and its prophecy — give faith in God and the work of modern-day religious institutions a bad name. Why, after all, would someone with no faith or someone weak in faith believe or continue to believe in a loving and caring God after hearing a claim that is so patently ridiculous?
If what Perry Stone said were true, why has it killed and sickened so many not in the United States? Why isn't it primarily hitting those who have undergone abortions or who are in same-sex marriages? And why should people of faith not believe that all sicknesses and diseases are God's retribution for one thing or another?
People of faith can and do have disagreements about abortion and same-sex marriage, and whether the law should allow them. That's understandable.
What's not understandable confusing or misleading people about a pandemic about which news and information already come so fast that it is hard to keep up.
And abortion and same-sex marriage are only two of the things Stone says have caused the coronavirus. He has maintained it can be blamed on media hype and on God's retribution on the Chinese because the country persecutes Christians and worships money as its "king-god." He also contends he predicted the virus about 15 years ago, intimated it was a sign of the apocalypse, called it an enemy of Christians, said his "connections around the world" told him a government supercomputer named "666" was working on a cure, and declared that one day the government would place a microchip in everyone's forehead to monitor them for fever, which is a virus symptom.
Reading or hearing these contentions should be all one needs to dismiss the televangelist's conjecture, but some people are more gullible than others. If he said it, God meant it, they believe it and that decides it.
God, it would seem, does have a place in the coronavirus outbreak — to be the rock on which people place their faith while scientists and public officials, to whom he has given wisdom and leadership, master this problem. Not to punish the many for the alleged sins of the relative few.