Sunday, April 26, 2020

5G COVID Conspiracist is an Evangelical Pastor

Among the goofier conspiracies out there is the claim that 5G cell phone signals somehow cause people to become infected with the COVID-19 virus. Not only does this make no medical sense at all, there's also no actual evidence to support it. Nonetheless, a video making those claims showed up on the Internet back in March and has been widely circulated. According to this article from The Guardian, the video is the work of Jonathon James, an evangelical pastor from Luton.

A recording spread around the world at the end of March, purportedly featuring a former Vodafone executive claiming to let the public in on a secret that the coronavirus pandemic is cover for a global plot to install 5G mobile phone masts, track the world’s population through vaccines, and then destroy human society as we know it. In reality, the Guardian can reveal, the voice on the tape making the baseless claims is an evangelical pastor from Luton who recently tried to convince Zimbabweans to use cryptocurrency in their economy.

Jonathon James, who regularly preached at churches in Bedfordshire, is the previously unidentified individual who reached millions of people with his detailed but nonsense claims that Covid-19 is a fake disease covering for the impact of 5G. “It has nothing to do with biological warfare but is our bodies reacting to radiofrequency radiation,” he told listeners to the 38-minute recording, claiming the real cause of global deaths was new mobile technology causing cell poisoning. “They are using coronavirus to try to hide the fact that people are dying from the 5G frequency.”

Although James was not the first individual to attempt to connect the pandemic and 5G, the popularity of his recording grew at the end of last month, just as people believing the conspiracy theory began to burn down phone equipment and harass telecoms engineers. In the recording he suggests that Bill Gates is involved in a plot to produce coronavirus vaccinations that will contain computer chips to track individuals, a move he claims will ultimately herald the destruction of society.

There's a reason I constantly make fun of specifically evangelical Christians. For whatever reason, they seem to be incapable of minding their own business. Their mindset appears to be that they cause all the annoyance (and even carnage) that they want, but whenever somebody like me puts up an blog post saying that what they're doing is dumb, they're "under attack." It's a vicious circle, because if they would stop behaving that way I wouldn't have grounds to criticize them and would stop.

I don't know exactly how the laws work in Britain, but in the United States "inciting speech" is not protected speech - as I've brought up here multiple times in the context of Alex Jones and the whole Sandy Hook mess. If you're a religious leader and you tell your followers to go and burn down cell phone towers and then they do it, that seems to me to be a clear case of inciting speech. That is the sort of thing that religious leaders need to be held accountable for - religion can't be an excuse to commit crimes.

It also amazes me how much of the really ridiculous "fake news" floating around out there comes from the evangelical world. There's a difference between religious beliefs and facts - there's no objective way to prove or disprove the existence of divine beings beyond the scope of the natural world, but it should be pretty easy to run an experiment and show that nobody is going to get infected with a virus because somebody nearby turned on a 5G phone.

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