The gospel of Sherri Tenpenny: COVID-19 misinformation meets Christian nationalism

(RNS) — Testifying to Ohio yelp legislators in June, an osteopathic doctor from Cleveland advised that COVID-19 vaccines may per chance presumably per chance moreover “magnetize” other folks’s bodies, or, alternatively, enable them to “interface” with cell phone towers.

“They’ll put a key on their forehead and it sticks,” Dr. Sherri Tenpenny said within the course of her testimony before members of the Ohio Condominium of Representatives interested by a proposed ban on vaccine mandates.

RELATED: Submit-Trump, Christian nationalists preach a theology of vaccine resistance

Medical mavens, with out a doubt, possess spelled out that the coronavirus vaccines don’t carry out anything else of the kind, and video of Tenpenny’s remarks — shared broadly on social media — almost right now became a case seek in how conspiracy theories and misinformation possess spread within the course of the pandemic.

Nonetheless less consideration used to be paid to the ominous non secular warning Tenpenny issued earlier in her testimony.

“For those of you who notify it’s doubtless you’ll presumably per chance presumably be Christians, what’s going to your lifestyles review seek esteem on the stay of your lifestyles?” Tenpenny asked the lawmakers. “Will the Lord notify to you: ‘You coerced other folks into being injected with this gene-modification technology that irreversibly disrupts your chromosomes?’”

Dr. Sherri Tenpenny appears on Info Wars. Video screengrab

Dr. Sherri Tenpenny seems on Infowars. Video screen dangle

It used to be a seek into the unfamiliar gospel of Tenpenny, a key figure in an an increasing number of vocal, faith-fueled walk that blends anti-conceal and anti-vaccine sentiment with QAnon conspiracy theories and Christian nationalism.

Tenpenny is a ragged anti-vaccine activist, nonetheless her expanded reach for the reason that pandemic started has landed her on the Heart for Countering Digital Despise’s “Disinformation Dozen” listing, a community that researchers deemed to blame for 65% of anti-vaccine misinformation on social media platforms.

Her wrong claims possess angry politicians and scientists struggling to curb the virus’s spread. President Joe Biden lambasted the “disinformation dozen” in July, accusing them of “killing other folks” with inaccurate claims through social media. Tech giants, too, possess responded: Tenpenny claims mighty of her screech material has been removed from Fb, Instagram and other social media internet sites.

K.C. Craichy, bottom, a pastor and head of LivingFuel, prays over Dr. Sherri Tenpenny during her Instagram live program

Okay.C. Craichy, bottom, a pastor and head of LivingFuel, prays over Dr. Sherri Tenpenny within the course of her Instagram live program “Gay Hour with Dr. T.” Video screen dangle

“Gay Hour with Dr. T,” a semiweekly Bible seek on Instagram Are living, survived, nonetheless, and Tenpenny has advised the program — and the pandemic — coincided with a shift in her faith.

Tenpenny, who did not answer to requests for an interview, has defined in tickled hour sessions how she used to be raised as a fundamentalist Christian before bouncing between Lutheran, Methodist and Catholic traditions. For far of her lifestyles, she said, she wasn’t an “on-fire-for-God person esteem I am now.”

Her non secular outlook took a inspiring turn in January of 2020, nonetheless, when she made up our minds to lunge away her previous as a “lukewarm Christian” within the aid of.

“I finally said, ‘OK, God, I’m in — 100% in,’” she said.

In phrase, this deepest revival has fostered a rotating agenda of spreading faux claims about COVID-19, Christian nationalism and references to conspiracy theories derived from the QAnon walk, which accuses a secret cabal of satanic pedophiles of ruining the sector.

In a single session, Tenpenny implores God to delivery the U.S. from the “tyranny of the conceal,” argues The US is founded “on your phrase” and expresses hope this can “return” to being “one nation below God.” In a single other, she refers to vaccines as a “bioweapon to injury your young other folks” created by “satanists” who enable Dark Lives Topic and antifa activists to function as a “entrance” to “power socialism by the center of The US, which turns into communism.”

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She concludes: “It is doubtless you’ll presumably moreover’t be waffle-y anymore. It is doubtless you’ll presumably moreover’t be a ‘sorta’ Christian. You’re both going to may per chance presumably per chance moreover simply still be in or out; you’re both going to wear a conceal and be obedient or you’re not. You’re going to steal the vaccine or you’re not. You’re going to face in opposition to the globalists and the satanists or you’re not. And I like God is asking his other folks to preserve out that.”

Tenpenny has had on her screen Okay.C. Craichy, a pastor and head of LivingFuel, who reportedly held a pair of events in 2020 that spread COVID-19 misinformation; Sam Rohrer, onetime Pennsylvania yelp lawmaker became president of the American Pastors Community; Jill Nobel, a non secular lifestyles coach; and Dr. Jim Meehan, a Tulsa ophthalmologist and blogger who has solid aspersions on conceal exercise.

“I’m an mountainous fan of yours, and I will be able to see God working by you,” Meehan said within the course of his look, which incorporated Tenpenny suggesting vaccines may per chance presumably per chance moreover doubtlessly end result within the advent of Manchurian candidates.

Tenpenny, who said she prays with her patients, seems to possess established a wicked among that fragment of white evangelicals who assemble up the splendid non secular subset (28%) of “vaccine refusers” within the U.S., consistent with PRRI.

Tenpenny’s forthcoming ebook, “The Day the Doctor Told the Truth,” is slated to be published by Brad Cummings, a modern tickled hour guest who owns Shiloh Aspect twin carriageway Publishers and who earlier helped figured out a publishing firm, Windblown Media, to publish the usual Christian ebook “The Shack.” Cummings used to be instrumental in that ebook’s success and went on to aid assemble the movie per it.

Dr. Sherri Tenpenny waves to the crowd at Bards Fest in St. Louis. Video screengrab

Dr. Sherri Tenpenny waves to the crowd at Bards Fest in St. Louis. Video screen dangle

Excellent month, Tenpenny got a rousing response at Bards Fest, a Christian nationalist gathering in St. Louis organized by Scott Kesterson. In her presentation, the doctor falsely claimed the shots don’t possess any medical revenue, assemble other folks ill and quantity to a “sin” on yarn of getting one entails “bowing to danger.” She also encouraged listeners to make exercise of debates with household about vaccination — which she said may per chance presumably per chance moreover simply still level of interest on a loved one’s “habit” to danger — as a possibility for evangelism.

“What number of tales are within the Bible about (Jesus) healing leprosy? Leprosy aid within the day, when Jesus used to be alive, used to be an incurable deadly disease,” she said. “Don’t you watched he may per chance presumably per chance moreover very neatly be ready to tackle you in COVID, too?”

Tenpenny went on to border vaccine proponents as murderous descendants of the biblical Nimrod (“They need every of you both subjected to satanic rule or stupid”) and aid listeners to pull their young other folks out of faculty (“Gain your young other folks and speed”).

It’s an unfamiliar theology shared by a lot of the pals she invitations onto her tickled hours, pals who regularly match her proclivity for mixing faith with anti-conceal or anti-vaccine sentiment. 

“Coach” Dave Daubenmire, bottom, appears on Dr. Sherri Tenpenny's Instagram live program

“Coach” Dave Daubenmire, bottom, seems on Dr. Sherri Tenpenny’s Instagram live program “Gay Hour with Dr. T.” Names redacted by RNS. Video screen dangle

“Dr. Sherri, I’m not going to place on a conceal. Can I enable you to know why? Since the Ten Commandments snort me that I may per chance presumably per chance moreover simply still not undergo inaccurate look for in opposition to my neighbor,” said Dave Daubenmire, a veteran excessive college football coach who used to be once sued by the American Civil Liberties Union for allegedly leading his team in prayer and distributing Scripture to avid gamers. “I know they don’t work.”

(There’s colossal proof, including a huge randomized seek not too long within the past performed in Bangladesh and on the second in preprint, that masks aid limit the spread of COVID-19.)

The actual scope of Tenpenny’s affect is unclear, nonetheless a pair of days after Bards Fest, Tenpenny and Daubenmire launched a novel joint project with the inspirational speaker Ohio Brett. They reportedly hope to snatch $100 million to create “Christian working in direction of facilities” that may per chance equip their trainees to bid companies that possess donated to Dark Lives Topic activists and toughen other folks that “discuss out in opposition to this global executive tyranny.”

When she launched the initiative on her tickled hour, Tenpenny declared: “We can switch the course of The US.”

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