HOLLAND, Mich — A pastor in Holland is getting a lot attention for a sermon a few weeks ago, where he said people should just get COVID and "get it over with.”
Pastor Bart Spencer started Lighthouse Baptist Church in 1997 and his congregation has grown to about 150 people over the years.
The sermon in question happened back on November 15th, and despite some backlash, Spencer tells FOX 17 News that he stands by what he said.
The excerpt from the more than 2-hour long sermon said quote “ Several people have gotten COVID, none have died yet. It’s okay, get it, get it over with, press on.”
You can watch the full sermon here.
It’s a small piece of the overall message from Pastor Spencer that Sunday, but it’s the part that’s grabbing the most attention.
Pastor Spencer said, “I would never tell them to go get sick, but you don’t know how you’re going to get it.”
Spencer said that they’ve made changes to their services from more virtual events, to social distancing, but are also not requiring masks and still holding in-person services to those who want it.
“If you want to wear a mask in church, wear one, if you want to social distance, do so. I honor that and I respect that. I’m not going to force you to take your mask off, but conversely, I do not want you to tell me what I have to do,” he said.
Spencer acknowledges that COVID-19 affects everyone differently and that people have become very sick and died from the virus.
“People do die, and I am not negating that. It seems almost ‘Captain Obvious’ to say that. That is a horrible situation and my heart goes out to those people,” he said, “but for people to destroy their life, for a ‘what if,’ for an uncertainty, just didn’t make sense to me logically.”
For him, navigating the pandemic is more about giving people the freedom to make their own choices.
“It is a virus, it is horrible to get it, it is hyper-infectious, nobody is denying that, my argument is that give us the liberty to make up our own mind,” he said.
Even if those choices may put others at risk.
Spencer said, “How are you going to go get the virus?” Exactly, no one knows, because it’s a virus, it finds you, you don’t find it. So you can wear a mask and social distance, but you’re going to get it according to the Danish study and according to the CDC.”
Spencer went on to say that masks do not work, citing the recent spike in COVID cases in West Michigan, despite mask wearing.
According to the CDC’s website, masks are an effective way to reduce the spread of droplets that can transmit the virus.
Spencer wants people to know that he would never wish for his congregation to get sick, but feels they can evaluate any and all situations for themselves and go from there.
“I’ve given the best 24 years of my life to this congregation, I love them. I would never ever put them at risk.
Spencer said that several members of the congregation have come down with COVID-19, including an elderly person who was severely ill. He said they were back at church as soon as they were feeling well again.