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It’s been more than two years, and Christian televangelist Kenneth Copeland is still lying about the pandemic. He did it again just this past weekend. But to understand just how egregious his lies are, it helps to remember what he’s said in the past about COVID-19.

Back in March of 2020, just when the United States was beginning to shut down, Copeland urged viewers to touch their TV screens while he said, “the Devil is trying to give me the flu!” (COVID wasn’t and isn’t the flu.)

I’m not sure what was creepier: his smile or his oily hand.

Days later, when the oil prayers failed, Copeland claimed the COVID scare would be over soon because “Christian people all over this country praying have overwhelmed it.”

Later that month, when it was clear those prayers weren’t working either, Copeland still insisted of the virus, “It. Is. Finished! It. Is. Over!

That didn’t age well. And it didn’t get better when he used his Magic Jesus Powers to destroy the virus for good, even spitting on it in the process.

COVID-19! [Spit]

I blow the wind of God on you! You are destroyed forever. And you’ll never be back. Thank you, God. Let it happen. Cause it to happen.

For some reason, the virus didn’t listen. It just continued to rage on through 2021 while the kinds of people Copeland preaches to avoided the vaccine more than any other religious or non-religious group.

That must be why Copeland called into a service hosted by his daughter Terri Pearsons and her husband George Pearsons in August of 2021 in order to let everyone know COVID was really destroyed this time. His evidence? Something about a “blanket of blood” and a “golden cloud”…? Who knows. You try making sense of it.

“It’s destroyed,” said Copeland, of a virus he declared dead 600,000 American deaths before that comment. 

And now, as we approach one million COVID-fueled deaths in the U.S., Copeland is still spreading the same kind of misinformation to his audience. Copeland spoke in Missouri over the weekend as part of his ministry’s 2022 Branson Victory Campaign and proceeded to gaslight the audience into thinking COVID was never a problem, that COVID variants won’t be a problem in the future, and that doctors were lying about precautionary measures throughout the past couple of years.

I am saying it and I am believing it. This time next year, this building’s gonna be full.

Now people have gotten used to going to church online, but COVID is gone! And it’s not coming back! And I’ll tell you what: its little brother’s not gonna do anything either. That thing’s over for good.

I’ll tell you another thing: It’s gonna be really hard to get the American people to fall for that again. They’re not gonna do it. There’s a lot of things that happened that will be corrected and never ever happen again. I am believing with all my heart that the medical community got some really, really big time learning. They didn’t keep their oath in a lot of places. Fear of losing their jobs, they would not treat the people what they knew would get them well.

Never again. Say it: Never again. Never again. Never again. Never again. Never again. Hallelujah. Hallelujah…

Copeland is either ignorant or lying. And after two years of inconceivable tragedy, it’s hard to imagine he can still be this ignorant. He’s just actively opposed to accepting the reality of the pandemic, he’s sheltered enough that he can avoid the ramifications of his COVID blindness, and there’s money to be made in in-person gatherings where he can more easily convince gullible Christians to hand over their cash as a way to “sow” their “seed.”

COVID is not gone. Variants have already created surges of infections and hospitalizations and future variants will do the same. While vaccinated people have been, by and large, spared from the worst effects of it, the fear is that a future mutation could nullify our protection against it, putting all of us in danger.

As I write this, the city of Philadelphia has reinstated its indoor mask mandate because that’s the responsible thing to do in the face of rising infection rates. If nearly a million COVID deaths won’t change Copeland’s tune, it’s not like another giant batch will make a difference.

And that’s just in the U.S.! It’s all far worse in countries where vaccines aren’t accessible to everyone.

The “medical community” didn’t choose to not help people either. They did the best they could with the equipment they had, and the people they were dealing with were almost always the ones who ignored their advice. As studies have now shown, the untested remedies promoted by right-wing propagandists and the Republican Party failed to stand up to scientific scrutiny. Ivermectin, for example, did not reduce the risk of COVID hospitalization. Whatever Christian grifter Jim Bakker was selling didn’t help either.

And yet here was Copeland, indoors, without a mask in sight, acting like people were duped into taking COVID seriously when the real problem is that too many Americans, lied to by conservatives in power, didn’t take it seriously enough.

And why would they? For more than two years now, they’ve been listening to people like Copeland tell them the virus wasn’t a real threat. It’s been long-form religious brainwashing and we’ve all paid the price for their naïveté.

Hemant Mehta is the founder of FriendlyAtheist.com, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.