Right-wing pastor E.W. Jackson posted a video on Facebook last night in which he vowed to hold services this Sunday at his The Called Church in Chesapeake, Virginia, in defiance of the stay-at-home order issued Monday by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam in an effort to slow the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Jackson, who has been promising members of his congregation that they will not become infected by the virus because they are protected by God, declared that Northam’s executive order is nothing more than a blatant attempt to permanently close down churches and vowed to defy it, even as fellow right-wing pastor Rodney Howard-Browne was arrested yesterday for holding services in defiance of a similar order in Florida.
“[They] couldn’t figure out how to shut these churches down and shut them up, but [they] finally got an excuse to do so,” Jackson fumed. “We’re going to have our worship services. We are. We’ve got enough room in our sanctuary for the numbers showing up to do social distancing, but I am not going to stop worshiping God, we are not going to stop gathering together because I don’t believe that any governor has the constitutional authority to tell me we can’t.”
“The First Amendment gives us that right,” he continued. “Might there be some circumstance in which maybe we would relent? There might be, but this ain’t it … I say it’s wrong, and I would encourage every pastor across the commonwealth of Virginia, I would encourage you [to] stand up for your First Amendment rights.”