Bethel

Surge of 100 COVID-19 cases Linked to Evangelical Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry

By Alejandra Molina

A recent COVID-19 spike in Northern California’s Shasta County has been partly attributed to the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry, a school operated by the Pentecostal megachurch Bethel in the city of Redding.

Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency connected 123 cases to the school over the past two weeks, Tim Mapes, a Shasta County Health spokesperson, confirmed on Wednesday.

Since the county released the number of cases it traced to Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry, church leaders on Wednesday reported that as of Oct. 6, they had traced 137 positive COVID-19 cases among students and staff since school started in early September. These numbers are included in the county’s figures, Bethel said in a statement. Bethel said the church has not been aware of any cases that have required hospitalization.

“We have seen that a primary source of transmission has occurred in off-campus living situations and social interactions outside of school hours that are common to student life,” the statement read.

The county also found that “a large number of the students often live in close contact in communal housing arrangements,” Mapes said.

County health officials are working with Bethel to mitigate the spread, Mapes said.

With the recent rise in COVID-19 cases, Bethel School of Ministry is temporarily shifting to distance learning, Bethel leaders said in the statement. Students have been told to shelter-in-place and have been asked to self-quarantine, “regardless of whether or not they are experiencing symptoms.”

Students have also been instructed to only leave home for essentials and not to participate in social gatherings or visit any local non-essential businesses or public spaces, Bethel said.

Bethel, in an Oct. 1 statement, acknowledged that a portion of new COVID-19 cases in Shasta County were among its students and staff and said the church was in “near-daily communication” with the county health department to slow the spread of the virus.

Bethel said students and staff are required to “wear face coverings at all times, socially distance on campus, self-monitor for symptoms, and undergo daily temperature checks taken at the door.”

Since then, a second round of COVID-19 tests was administered on Oct. 5 for more than 700 staff and students, Bethel said.

In addition, Bethel canceled “Church on the Ball Field” Sunday services from Oct. 4-11 and asked employees who are able to do so to work from home beginning Oct. 5. People will still be allowed on campus, however, but have to adhere to the county’s social distancing and face covering guidelines.

Early on in the pandemic, Bethel church leaders said they were taking precautions in conducting its ministries.

In March, for example, they discouraged Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry students, who evangelize to strangers as they learn to pray and to heal the sick, from visiting health care settings.

While Bethel and other charismatic churches emphasize spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues, healings and modern-day miracles, church leaders said they also believe in wisdom and modern medicine. While originally under the Assemblies of God denomination, the church now identifies as nondenominational. 

“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,” Bethel Church spokesman Aaron Tesauro said in March.

Regardless, Shasta County will have to go through tighter COVID-19 restrictions for businesses due to the surge in cases, according to the Record Searchlight.

Health officials said Tuesday that Shasta County, with a population of around 180,000, reached a new milestone over the weekend as the number of confirmed cases topped 1,000 since March.

The county recorded 167 new cases over the weekend, moving the total coronavirus cases since March to 1,158. This was expected to move the county into a new level of regulations on restaurants, bars, theaters and businesses, county health officials said.

Public Health Director Robin Schurig, in the Record Searchlight, said businesses will have three days to comply and the new restrictions will go into effect Friday.

Schurig said the county could face even tighter controls.

Alejandra MolinaAlejandra Molina is a national reporter for Religion News Service based in Los Angeles, California.

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29 thoughts on “Surge of 100 COVID-19 cases Linked to Evangelical Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry”

  1. Again, why is another COVID story being featured on The Roys Report?

    Julie, I don’t follow your blog to read the “news”. Plenty of other websites attempt to do that.

    I follow your blog for your investigative reporting, because you are “reporting the unvarnished truth about what’s happening in the Christian community so the church can be reformed and restored” (from your “About” page)?

    Reading about another organization having COVID cases is not helping “the church to be reformed or restored.”

    Please stick to what you are known for and what you do best. That’s why we are here.

    1. Agreed. This is a non-story. The church is working with county officials to handle it and has switched to distance learning. They’re not acting like John MacArthur.

      1. Completely disagree. The response of churches and church-affiliated organizations to the pandemic is extremely newsworthy.

        It is particularly so in Bethel, where the school of Supernatural Ministry emphasizes faith healing and has cleaned to have healed people with COVID-19. Christians should be able to examine how this role in spreading the pandemic comports with their theology.

    2. Investigative reporting will always be my main emphasis. However, part of reporting the truth is informing people about relevant news in the church. Stories like these, written by reporters with RNS/AP, help me do that. If a story doesn’t interest you, feel free to skip it.

      1. Sad to hear that you rely on RNS/AP as some sort of “unbiased” so called “news”; many of the so called “news” by these 2 groups you’ve mentioned have shown biased in their reporting, propaganda. There is NO evidence a t-shirt, bandana, surgical mask would protect the wearer from contracting/transmitting the Wuhan virus. The only mask that would contain “protect” the wearer is the N95, meaning 95% of the virus would be contained, the other 5% will make it right through. Assuming the wearer has been properly trained on its use. A very smart virus that distinguishes between an anarchist ANTIFA operative, BLM Marxist, or arsonist wearing one and a church going person. A virus so smart it distinguishes between a funeral for a famous (or infamous) corrupt, Democrat politician, and the funeral of my sister that passed away this July as a result of liver failure. We were not allowed to hold a funeral my sister. Protestors can protest with a mask, or t-shirt, or bandana on their faces, but the same media says we cannot vote in person observing the same “rules”. A virus so smart, it distinguishes between having dinner at a restaurant while not wearing your mask, and church members worshipping God with the masks on. Pseudoscience used as a weapon. “If a story doesn’t interest you, feel free to skip it”. How about if I UNSUBSCRIBE from your email list? How about if I’d STOP donating and praying for your ministry? This story is REPLETE with innuendos and pseudoscience. Would that atheist you interviewed REJECT Christ as his Savior because of Ravi’s “David Moment”?. There are plenty of ministries, like The Navigators, Ligonier Ministries, Wycliffe Bible Translators, Chosen People Ministries, Compassionate Hope, Missionary Aviation Fellowship, and many others, that need my finances and prayers. Decisions, decisions, decisions…
        Uwe (Jude 3)

        1. I am very sorry for the loss of your sister, UWE.

          You might be interested in the following recent publication in NATURE, the world’s most prestigious scientific journal:

          “Face masks: what the data say
          The science supports that face coverings are saving lives during the coronavirus pandemic, and yet the debate trundles on. How much evidence is enough?”

          https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02801-8

          You may disagree with the evidence about masks, but to simply say there is NO evidence is plainly a falsehood.

          1. So Lea, you seem to be the watchdog in favor of the COVID panic (9-11 level as you say) for Julie’s posts, with evidence on top of that! So how would you react if I told you that evidence from the WHO has shown that now 10 percent of the global population may have been infected by this virus! That is 10% of 7.8 billion people, 780,000,000 infected people!! Check me on this:

            https://apnews.com/article/virus-outbreak-archive-united-nations-54a3a5869c9ae4ee623497691e796083

            This far outstrips numbers previously seen! So what is your reaction? Panic? This supports the need for face masks? We should go back into lockdown and distancing? How do you interpret the “data”?

            The global confirmed death count is 1,056,186 (fact check https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019)

            Do the math. That is 0.14% infection fatality rate. That math is based on the WHO Calculating Infection Fatality Ratio (WHO Scientific Brief Estimating mortality from COVID-19). That is in line with seasonal flu and we should be in a global panic over this? The mask issue becomes mute. No need to wear them let alone mandate it. An infectious disease Dr. from Rush University confirmed this to me back in April. The Drs. know this is a mild virus and is not as deadly as being played by the mainstream leftist media for political reasons.

            You need to look for other angles why this is being pushed so hard when the data does not show the danger of a pandemic (by the way, did you know that the WHO does not have a clear definition of pandemic. They have been arguing about it for years. It is basically determined when the General Director says so. And did you know that the General Director is not a medical Dr.? But he belonged to the Marxist-Leninist party responsible for thousands of deaths in Ethiopia).

            Did you know that the WHO has been pushing hard for global vaccination? In a WHO report to the Director General in response to the H1N1 pandemic in 2010 stated, “We did not anticipate that large numbers of people would decide not to be vaccinated.” And why was that? The report goes on, “WHO and many countries were unprepared for a new form of scrutiny: electronic scrutiny by the public, including through social media. Today, people draw their own instant information from a wide range of sources. They make their own decisions about which advice to follow.” And, “This led to the familiar conclusion that the pandemic was even milder than normal influenza, and supported the
            perception that vaccination was unnecessary.”

            So what happened this time around? FB, Twitter, Instagram, Google censored information people could receive, calling it dangerous misinformation. To gain the global vaccination this time around, they must control the media, keep the panic and fear by focusing on the elusive “case numbers” rather than deaths. Asymptomatic infectivity, rather than real sickness or any display of pathology.

            There is a global 2020 agenda. They are working it. And it is working. We need real reporting of the truth and not this fear-mongering of the left even dubbing Christian journalists.

            I could go on about Gates death panels, eugenics, and the deaths of the elderly (funny how this virus targets the elderly and weak), Fauci’s HIV debacle and his work with Ebola and coronaviruses and the US funding of Wuhan lab under Obama. That this happened in election year, the anti-Trump hysteria of the Left to remove him from office and blame him for the pandemic. This is not about a pandemic. It is not about health and safety. It is about a reset, a global revolution towards the next step of global tyranny. And they are doing it through “health”. Divide, distance, control and censor information, muzzle speech, track you, trace you, quarantine you, immunization passport (already happening in Ireland and with United Airlines). In Illinois Dept of Public Health has a draft document for Mass Immunizations. This time around they will force you to be vaccinated. No choice. They are not playing around. This revolution is coming hard and fast.

            We are at a time for the need of civil disobedience. I refuse to wear the communist mask. I never have worn it since day one. The more people stop wearing it, the more it will reveal the lie. That is why they are mandating it. They are afraid their lies will be exposed. They are afraid of the people not being controlled by psychological manipulation. Once the people realize the sky is not falling and that it is ok to take off the masks, all will be undone. The Marxist Left will be powerless. If we were in another country, they would simply just execute us, the Divergent. They can only execute us in America psychologically and medically. And we are being led to this slaughter.

            You may not believe any of this, because anything other than mainstream Left is a conspiracy. But there are many who do see and who are speaking truth and are being persecuted for it. If you want to follow the crowd, you’ll be safe. But you will risk to lose your freedom in the end. I choose truth over deception, freedom over slavery, persecution over comfort, conscience over tyranny. I invite everyone to follow, take off your mask, walk away from lying mandates, live as a free citizen.

          2. D,

            You are entirely correct in this:

            “the global confirmed death count is 1,056,186
            (fact check https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019)”

            I think that 1,000,000 lives lost is serious loss, a needless tragedy, and a grief to my Lord and Saviour who cared for each one. I’m happy to wear a mask to keep that number as low as possible.

            Nothing else in your long screed matters. Just those lives.

            Be pro-life. Wear a mask.

    3. At a school that clams to teach people to heal and perform other miracles, whose founder teaches that it is always God’s will to heal, it’s at least a *bit* noteworthy that they have a very large incidence of cases, no?

  2. Regular flu: should we be wearing masks and social distancing for regular flu, since it also kills in the thousands every year? Just saying. The wearing of masks is absurd. Enough already. Stop living in fear people.

    1. Do you also walk out into the street without checking for traffic so that everyone knows you have no fear of cars?
      Perhaps you eat rotted food to show that you have no fear of salmonella?
      Or maybe you encourage others to smoke to show that they have no fear of cancer.

      Flu deaths 2015-2016 23,000
      Flu deaths 2016-2017 38,000
      Flu deaths 2017-2018 61,000
      Flu deaths 2018-2019 34,000
      Flu deaths 2019-2020 22,000

      Covid-19 deaths in 2020: 217,000.

      And every time I make this post to counter non-factual assertions like yours, the number of COVID-19 deaths has increased by thousands.

      It’s a 9-11-level event happening every three days.

    2. In many parts of the world particularly Asia, people wear masks if they feel at all down. Perhaps we should be wearing them every winter. I suppose we’ll be debating that sometime after we have used masks and vaccines to get transmission down. Yes the vaccine will not be 100 pct

  3. I believe that part of the story here is that we have a “supernatural school” who have suddenly found themselves powerless in the pandemic. This is a school who actively promotes and raises up so-called prophets and yet none of these prophets, including their two big cheeses, ever saw this pandemic coming. While they were prophesying prosperity for 2020 they now find themselves outside of the “glory cloud” that they think they are under.

    This so-called ministry needs accountability and scrutiny for the things that they are teaching, practicing and promoting as sound orthodoxy. One would think that these kind of obvious hypocritical things – having a school of the supernatural where people are taught to be healers and yet having to shut it down because the healers can’t heal – would discredit this ministry, but it doesn’t, an excuse is made and it just keeps on going. And what is the excuse? It’s not their false belief, it’s those darn kids who are hanging out together outside of the schools perimeters.

    Maybe this school should practice what it preaches.

    1. 100%. This is a church with a wildly irresponsible theology, and the fact that their music is being played on Christian radio and in churches everywhere should be a major concern.

      1. I was unaware of Bethel until recently when they tried to raise a 2-year old child from the dead. Not only was I horrified by the emotionally abusive nature of the whole episode, it seemed grotesquely pagan; borderline occultish rituals to call her out of the grave papered over with Christian-sounding words.

        Similar feelings about their practice of grave-soaking, where they lay on the grave of a deceased pastor/teacher in order to absorb the dead person’s anointing.

        1. If you call it pagan and occultish to follow Jesus’ example of raising the dead, I’d be concerned for how you would have responded to Jesus back in the day. The people at Bethel and others with similar beliefs are simply following his example and exhortations to heal the sick and raise the dead (Matt. 10:8). I can’t speak for how they go about doing it, which may leave something to be desired, but they aren’t practicing some pagan ritual.

          Same thing about grave-soaking…this practice is also rooted in biblical teachings (2 Kings 13:21). I’m not sure I agree with it myself, but the idea behind it is far from “pagan.”

          1. Way out of context for the latter, and I’m pretty sure Jesus didn’t instruct his disciples to fundraise a 6-figure sum off of a dead child for the former.

          2. When Jesus raised the dead, he spoke and it was done.

            Bethel’s weeks of chanting, singing, moaning, whirling, crying out and throwing themselves on the ground–to no avail–was pagan, occultish and has NO support in Scripture.

            All the while hyping it on social media, and raising money off of it, too.

            I can think of few things FURTHER from Jesus’ example than the way they conducted themselves.

            It was a disgusting and shocking display.

    2. In South Korea, the initial outbreak of COVID-19 was traced to a single service at a church reported to have cult-like beliefs. Given that information, I think a story like this is still relevant

  4. Jeepers, where would JR be without people telling her how to pursue her passion? P.S. This article sounded like a piece from the Bee!

  5. There are more important things than CoVid to report about Bethel and its ministries, but sadly those are not investigated here. Ditto for Joyce Meyer and her outfit.
    This is JR’s site and she can do what she wants, but we don’t have to keep reading it.

  6. Is the affiliation with “Pentecostal” actually valid? I would assume that true theologically defined Pentecostals would be (should be) offended with the label Pentecostal being applied to Bethel or BSSM.
    Indeed there is a bigger story here. There is MUCH that needs exposing at Bethel and among their so called “apostolic” leadership (i.e. Todd Bentley).
    Follow the money!
    If the Church would be restored and renewed, these million dollar charlatans need to be exposed.

  7. For the life of me, I do not see how this article could have been any more balanced.

    Actually, I was impressed to learn FROM THIS REPORT that the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry is trying to be attuned to science as well as to their beliefs in supernatural powers. That’s something we haven’t been hearing from very many evangelical churches and haven’t been hearing in the so-called mainstream media. Yet here we read comments accusing the reporter of innuendo and bias. Seriously? Sheesh.

    What is really sad is not this story or the report about it. What is really sad is how way too many evangelical churches in America are more swayed by conspiratorial QAnon theories about pedophiliac Democratic deep-state operatives who are working with China to suppress religious freedom in America than they are by the simple pleas from their communities’ leaders, supported by virologists and immunologists and medical doctors, to take temporary precautions that will protect “the least of these” from an unfettered and potentially deadly coronavirus.

  8. Not sure why this minor fact is not being highlighted. Bethel has tested the entire school and staff twice, Most positives have had no symptoms and therefore would never have had any reason to show up in the general population as a positive test number (i.e. they wouldn’t have even thought to be tested)..

    What do you think the number of positives in the county would be if everyone in the general population who spent a hour at a bar or restaurant last six weeks was tested? …my guess is the number would be greater than 137.

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