Wiles – the founder of the TruNews website promoting the plot and the senior pastor of Flowing Streams Church in Florida – claimed on that show in late April that he would not get the COVID-19 vaccine and would survive the “global genocide” .
“I am not going to be vaccinated,” he said. “I’m going to be one of the survivors. I will survive the genocide.
He added, “You and I are witnessing the world’s first mass murder and it is being led by Satan’s team on the planet. You have to survive it. Do not get vaccinated. “
Then this week, TruNews, in a post on its official Gab account, noted that there was an outbreak of COVID-19 at Wiles Church and asked for prayers.
“Flowing Streams is experiencing a sudden cluster of influenza and Covid among some employees and their loved ones. Rick Wiles made the decision tonight to close the offices and studios until a date to be determined next week, ”Gab’s post explained. “Our team has to take care of sick family members. Please pray for your TruNews team. “
On Saturday, TruNews published a follow-up article, urging its supporters to pray specifically for Wiles. “URGENT REQUEST – please pray for Rick Wiles right now,” the organization wrote. “Please repost so that there is an army of people praying. “
A Saturday email to Wiles supporters was sent by Flowing Streams vice president Raymond Burkhart. In that post, Burkhart said Wiles was taken to hospital.
“Rick really needs your continued prayers. Today he was taken to the emergency room and, on medical advice, was admitted to hospital. He is currently on oxygen and should stay there for several days, ”he wrote.
In a previous note from Friday to supporters first reported by RightWingWatch, Wiles’ organization asked for a prayer and said the pastor was “very weak.” He explained that Wiles’ fever had subsided and that he had no “breathing problems”. But he said there were concerns about the fatigue he continued to feel. The letter included a prayer for the supporters to repeat.
Polls have shown conservative white evangelical Christians to be one of the groups most likely to be skeptical of COVID-19 vaccines. A mid-February survey conducted by Pew Research showed that about 45% of white evangelicals said they would “definitely” or “probably” not be vaccinated against the virus.
While some Christian leaders – like Wiles – have promoted conspiracy theories on COVID-19 vaccines, others have called on their supporters to get vaccinated. Evangelical Christian leader Franklin Graham, president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the humanitarian aid organization Samaritan’s Purse, has repeatedly urged people to get vaccinated.
“I thank God for the vaccine,” Graham told CNN earlier this month.
Although vaccine conspiracy theories have circulated widely, scientists and medical professionals have repeatedly vouched for the safety and effectiveness of approved vaccines. Rigorous scientific testing has clearly shown that vaccines are safe and very effective in preventing severe cases of COVID-19.
News week contacted TruNews for further comment, but did not immediately receive a response.
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This article has been updated with additional information on Wiles’ condition, noting that he has been hospitalized.