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Bruce, How Do You Know Your Wife’s Mom Was Infected with COVID-19 at Church?

newark baptist temple heath ohio

Yesterday, I wrote a post detailing my wife’s mom’s infection with COVID-19. Mom’s home from the hospital today. She is required to quarantine for eight days.

I typically don’t share my writing on my personal Facebook page. I don’t want conflict with family members. I treat Facebook like the corner pub, a place where I hang out with friends, drink beer, and watch cat videos. Anyone who knows me knows I have opinions about virtually everything. I have been writing my opinions down, first on paper and now on the Internet, since the mid-1980s. I am not shy about saying my piece. If people want to challenge something I have written or tell me how awesome I am, they know where to find me.

I will, on occasion, “vent” on social media. Yesterday, I wrote:

Polly Gerencser’s mom had another heart attack today. While awaiting admission into the hospital, she was tested for COVID-19. The test came back positive. She is currently asymptomatic, but the doctor said her heart attack could be COVID-related. Where did she get infected? Most likely her IFB (Independent Fundamentalist Baptist) church, which currently has at least ten members infected with the virus (and others have been previously infected). Don’t tell me Fundamentalist Christianity is harmless — it’s not. In Mom’s case, her religion could kill her (along with her refusal to get vaccinated). Mom says she never gets flu vaccinations, so there’s no reason for her to get vaccinated for COVID-19 either. All attempts to educate her have fallen on deaf ears. Besides, God is in control and she’s ready to die and go to Heaven.

I told my editor, Carolyn Patrick:

“I’m so fucking angry about Polly’s mom/church. I mean livid. 🤬🤬 Nothing we can do. Jesus has the wheel and he plans on driving her straight into the grave.”

I really love that last line “Nothing we can do. Jesus has the wheel and he plans on driving her straight into the grave.” 🙂

I had one of the IFB preachers in the family contact me, challenging my claim that Mom got infected while attending services at the Newark Baptist Temple. This person suggested that Mom could have gotten infected elsewhere. I agreed that anything is “possible,” but the question is what is likely or probable. You know, the scientific method.

Here’s what I know:

  • At least ten church members are currently infected with COVID-19
  • The church has had previous COVID outbreaks.
  • Several congregants have been hospitalized and at least one has died from COVID-19.
  • The pastor and his family were previously infected.
  • Except for a short period of time, the church’s pastor has continued to hold services on Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday night.
  • The church has continued to operate its Christian school.
  • Congregants claim the church and its pastor take seriously the virus and “encourage” but not demand attendees to wear masks and practice social distancing. Further, I have been told that people with serious health problem are “encouraged” to stay home. My mother-in-law definitely falls into this category, yet she attends church 2-3 times a week.
  • Mom’s entire social life revolves around the Baptist Temple and her grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nephews, and nieces — most of whom attend church with her.
  • Mom typically eats out at least once a week, often on Sundays at the Olive Garden near the Baptist Temple. Who does she eat out with? People she attends church with.
  • Most of the people who visit her home attend church with her.
  • I have watched numerous videos of Baptist Temple church services. I have also viewed photos of family and school outings held at the church. While it is true some people practice social distancing, some don’t. While it is true some people wear masks, many people don’t. The pastor preaches sans mask. The song leader sings without wearing a mask. Special music groups sing without wearing masks. And the choir belts out praise to Jesus without wearing masks. In May 2020, the CDC released the following choir guidelines: “Consider suspending or at least decreasing use of a choir/musical ensembles and congregant singing, chanting, or reciting during services or other programming, if appropriate within the faith tradition. The act of singing may contribute to transmission of COVID-19, possibly through emission of aerosols.” (This guideline was immediately removed by the anti-science Trump White House.)

Video Link

Based on the aforementioned evidence, it is likely/probable that Mom was infected at church or at a social event attended by church members/family (who attended the Baptist Temple). Sure, it is possible that a non-church member infected her. But likely? Nope. Perhaps the church should have investigators from the Ohio Department of Health come in and do contact tracing. That will never happen. Libertarianism (and Trumpism) rules the roost at the Baptist Temple. Besides, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine exempted churches from ALL health mandates. That’s right. Churches are free to do what they want. (The number of Evangelical churches that refuse to follows CDC/state health guidelines is astounding. Evidently, loving your neighbor as yourself is not found in their Bibles.)

Fast forward to the 14:29 mark in the above video. You will hear Pastor Falls say that many congregants are out sick with COVID-19. He even mentions some of their names. Many of those mentioned are aged. We knew them back when we attended the Baptist Temple in the early 1980s. The fact that they are infected tells me that they likely didn’t get vaccinated, even though they have been eligible for months and months. And now Polly’s mom has COVID too.

Pastor Falls says to the congregation:

Pray, and please consider others, please consider others. I’m not telling you how you need to do that, but be mindful of someone who might not fare as well as you do.

“I’m not telling you how you need to do that.” The Baptist Temple is an IFB congregation. Telling people what to do is part of their DNA. But when it comes to a deadly virus and caring for one’s neighbor, libertarianism and fatalism are the rule. Keep in mind, this church has had numerous people infected with COVID-19. The Baptist Temple is a small church. I would be surprised if they ran 100 people on Sundays. I can’t know that for sure, but attendance seems sparse. Let’s suppose, for a moment, the church does have 100 members in attendance. This means that it is likely 20-25 percent of attendees have had COVID. It is, in my opinion, immoral and irresponsible to continue to hold church services in the midst of a super spreader event. The whole church should be under quarantine. That, of course, will never happen.

Some readers might wonder why what the Baptist Temple does matters to me. As long as I have family who attends this church, I care about their health and well-being. I hope (naively) that something I write will cause Pastor Falls and the church to act in the best interest of their congregants and community.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can contact Bruce via email, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

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18 Comments

  1. Avatar
    BJW

    Seems like you’ve properly observed the facts, which are that Polly’s mom has been around people sick with Covid-19 from her church, and that is who she mainly socializes with. Who could reject the facts? (IFB members, I guess.)

  2. Avatar
    Barbara L. Jackson

    What they are using is simply an excuse. This is similar to a dominance hierarchy by those who believe they have the right to be on top. Their desires come before everything else. The physical universe exists whether they like it or not. The covid virus is not listening to them and they are harming others with their behavior.

  3. Avatar
    GeoffT

    It’s dreadful that so many people are refusing to be vaccinated. Young people feel safe because the virus is of almost no threat to them, whilst religious people believe God will protect them. Others have fallen for the nonsense of the ridiculous conspiracy theories. Whatever the reason, the virus pays no heed to silly reasons and simply follows reality. As long as it exists it will continue to thrive, and ever more variants will emerge. Vaccinations are needed to protect others, not just the individual, and if the virus is to be defeated it needs a sufficient proportion of the population protected.

    What is it with right wing Americans? They obsess about individual rights but look blank when you mention duties and responsibilities.

  4. Avatar
    William

    ‘and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.’ Titus 2:14b

    I wonder what good works have been done by fundamentalism during this pandemic?

    I remember reading about how the Mormon church had raised hundreds of thousands to contribute to buying and distributing vaccines. Can the true TM church, the Baptist church claiming to be setting the example, the church claiming to be descended from the church of Jesus and John the Baptist show any example of their Christian good works during this pandemic?

    Churches could really be trailblazers in acts of kindness and compassion, but they are so defensive they can’t even admit their events could be killing people through not stopping the spread.

  5. Avatar
    thatotherjean

    Bruce, I’m so sorry about your mother-in-law. I hope she defies the odds and gets better without complications. Evangelicals have been terribly irresponsible throughout this pandemic, opposing mask-wearing, social distancing, and now getting vaccinated. Belief in a god shouldn’t necessarily mean being anti-science, but it does so far too often. Our current Supreme Court, in permitting special privileges for churches, is only making the problem worse.

  6. Avatar
    fivehundredpoundpeep

    I feel bad for Polly’s Mom. These churches aren’t looking out for their members. It’s horrifying that they didn’t take precautions.

    However there is something going wrong with these Covid vaccines, I know so many people personally who have gotten sick from them, seizures, neuropathy like symptoms and worse. Also they don’t seem to be working, I know someone who got both vaccines and ended up in the hospital diagnosed with Covid pneumonia and they got the vaccines long enough ago. There’s too many women posting about messed up periods, cycles, miscarriages, strokes. On health boards like for tinnuitus, people are talking about hearing issues and other things who were vaccinated. Covid is real but the vaccines are making problems for people with serious side effects. One doesn’t have to be a right winger to know something is wrong with this picture. I am chronically ill and have a history of anaphylaxis and saw people being censored talking about real side effects and that worries me. I remember when leftists questioned the system and big Pharm. Don’t make the mistake that because evangelical Christians helped to spread Covid far and wide that they are wrong about the vaccines. The side effects are ghastly.

    https://t.me/s/covid_vaccine_injuries

    If anything people should be clamoring for higher quality traditional vaccines. I have taken all vaccines, including a tetanus shot last year, something is wrong with these vaccines.

  7. Avatar
    Sage

    I labeled you nothing. Go read the article. Don’t accept hearsay and make assumptions. Real research is your friend. Grabbing a few headlines and making extreme proclamations is a tad bit extremist.

    I am merely offering counterpoints to your assumptions so other people are able to see viewpoints other than your own extreme rhetoric.

    • Avatar
      BJW

      This person is the very essence of an antivaxxer. Instead of relying on reliable data, they take anecdotes from Vaers, which isn’t any kind of scientifically collated data. Anyone can report anything without any verification.

  8. Avatar
    ... Zoe ~

    VAERS is a place where people self-report. That doesn’t mean all submissions are fake. It also doesn’t prove causation. One needs to approach self-reporting with caution and rightfully so.
    Currently, the focus on side-effects and adverse reactions, including allergic reactions is the focus and again, that is to be expected and investigated. If we sit down and consider the number of deaths during surgery or with the administration of various meds, the stories present as horrific. I agree, if one reads the VAERS site it scares one to death. The thing is, we simply do not know the accuracy of all reporting, nor do we have all the information we need to see a direct causal link. With self-reporting there are many things we do not know.

    In these political times we also need to be aware that it can and does happen that false reports are made. I learned yesterday that in the U.S. it is a criminal offense to knowingly submit a false report. Federal law (18 U.S. Code S 1001) There is a suggestion now that there is indeed some false reporting going on. Who would intentionally submit a false report? A good question. Currently, the amount of anti-vaccine rhetoric is rampant online and sadly also associated with conspiracy theories. Perhaps VAERS offers a way to see what’s happening out there with self-reporting. Again, to make a direct link to causation just from a submission doesn’t guarantee causation.

  9. Avatar
    William

    This anti vax stuff just preys on the vulnerable, people who are not in a good place in life at the moment and they are looking for something to make sense in their life which is otherwise chaotic.

    The Zoe app has analyzed self reporting symptoms from nearly 300,000 people. The results are mild symptoms, occurring up to 8 days but usually within the first 2 days.

    It’s normal to get mild symptoms from a vaccine because like the flu jab, it mimics the virus to cause you to build up an immune response.

    Some people decide not to get it. The difference is that they don’t spend hours each day with obsessive thoughts on the subject of vaccination, they just make a decision and move on with their lives. There are always people who take advantage of good natured people in bad spots, sadly.

Want to Respond to Bruce? Fire Away!

Bruce Gerencser