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Mike Pence to speak at 3,000-person Dallas church ‘celebration’ as Texas COVID-19 cases skyrocket

Vice President Mike Pence, along with members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, addresses his remarks at a coronavirus update briefing Wednesday, April 8, 2020, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen)

As coronavirus cases in Texas have reached all-time highs of over 5,500 new cases a day, Vice President Mike Pence is encouraging over 3,000 churchgoers to cram into the sanctuary of the First Baptist Dallas megachurch this coming Sunday to hear him speak at a “Celebrate Freedom Sunday” event. The event won’t make facemasks or social distancing mandatory.

On Friday, Pence’s own Coronavirus Task Force listed Texas as one of several “hot spots” that he’ll tour to better understand the ongoing epidemic. The state currently has the fifth-highest number of coronavirus cases among U.S. states, and Dallas County has the second-highest number of overall cases in the state.

In short, it’s not a great time to hold a huge in-person event, but that’s not stopping the church from “strongly encouraging” masks and social distancing without actually requiring them. Instead, the church will conduct temperature checks at the front door. The event will also have a fireworks show, patriotic music, and visits by Texas Governor Greg Abbott and U.S. Housing Secretary Ben Carson.

The church’s pastor, Robert Jeffress, is a huge Trump-supporter and member of President Donald Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Board and White House Faith Initiative. As Hornet reminds us, he’s also got a long history of some very un-Christian behavior:

In 2010, he called Islam an “evil, evil religion,” a “heresy from the pit of hell” and said that it “promoted pedophilia.” That same year, he called Catholicism a “Satanic” result of “Babylonian mystery religion” and Mormonism “a cult.” also reminds us that “In 2015, Jeffress said that ongoing ‘gay cake’ rows would lead to an anti-Christian holocaust. He also claimed that same-sex marriage would have terrible consequences for Christians, that cakes at same-sex weddings are a sign of the Antichrist and that all gay men want is to molest children.”

Pence’s visit shouldn’t really surprise anyone as Trump needs to court the 81 percent of Evangelical voters who voted for him in 2016, and Trump has also overseen the most anti-LGBTQ administration in U.S. history.

Regardless, considering that Abbott recently reversed course and shut down all of Texas’ bars on Thursday, delaying his quick reopening of the state, perhaps Pence shouldn’t be asking the church’s largely elderly congregants to potentially expose themselves to a deadly disease in the name of “freedom.”

But then again, Pence thinks prayer and not facemasks will help end the epidemic, so… God help us all.

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