A controversial charismatic California megachurch known for its unorthodox belief that faithful prayers will heal the sick and can raise the dead has announced that amid a vast coronavirus outbreak they are suspending visits to hospitals.
According to the Sacramento Bee, Aaron Tesauro, a spokesperson for Bethel Church in Redding, California, released an email statement this week noting that “through email communications, signage, and church announcements, we are actively encouraging health practices and precautions to our whole community."
This includes suspension of 'faith-healing' hospital visits from both Bethel Church members and students at Bethel’s School of Supernatural Ministry housed in the Redding campus.
“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,” the email added.
Many of the 2,400 students at the School of Supernatural Ministry have become well known in their community for approaching and praying for people in hospitals and healthcare centers.
One woman told the Sacramento Bee that two Bethel students approached her on January 31, while she waited in the Mercy Medical Center emergency room.
Reportedly the students told her “they would pray over the people there and put Jesus in their hearts and this would heal us all and we didn’t need to stay at the ER and could go home.”
The woman, who wished to maintain her anonymity, said she filed a complaint with the hospital after one of the students touched her 5-year-old daughter without permission.
Amid the coronavirus outbreak, however, Bethel is discouraging its students from visiting healthcare centers.
“Though we believe in a God who actively heals today, students are not being encouraged to visit healthcare settings at this time, and moreover, are taught that even under normal circumstances, they must receive permission from both the facility and the individual before engaging in prayer,” the email statement read, Disrn.com reports.
According to the Redding campus Bethel Church website, the church believes that "every believer is a supernatural minister of the gospel of power. All ministry flows from the prayer 'Thy kingdom come... on earth as it is in heaven.'"
It is not believed that any of the more than 6,300 regular church attendees or the more than 9,000 total church members have been exposed to the virus.
As such, church leaders have yet to suspend services, though they are in contact with local health officials.
Photo courtesy: Hannah Busing/Unsplash
Kayla Koslosky has been the Editor of ChristianHeadlines.com since 2018. She has B.A. degrees in English and History and previously wrote for and was the managing editor of the Yellow Jacket newspaper. She has written on her blog since 2012 and has also contributed to IBelieve.com and Crosswalk.com.