Jerry Boykin, a retired lieutenant general who once led U.S. special forces, discussed the coronavirus during last week’s online event promoting “The Return,” a prayer-and-politics rally being convened by End Times author Jonathan Cahn. Boykin claimed that “everybody” he knows understands that COVID-19 came out of a lab in China—many scientists have publicly rejected the lab theory—and he suggested that the release of the virus was a “deliberate attack,” while acknowledging that the evidence is inconclusive. But Boykin was “hopeful and enthusiastic” that “we are seeing right now the beginning of a revival or Great Awakening” as more people are turning to God during the pandemic.
As the executive vice president of the Family Research Council and a member of POTUS Shield’s leadership council, Boykin serves as a bridge between traditional religious-right political groups and dominionist Pentecostal leaders who are among Trump’s most ardent supporters.
“We look at this COVID thing and we ask, ‘How can anything good come out of it?’ Well, Bible sales are up and online sermons are seeing record numbers of people coming to Christ,” Boykin said. “Now, you know, there’s a flip side, too, and that is that a lot of people are getting into pornography now, and the church is going to have a big burden to try and help people get off of it when this is all over with.”
During the livestream, which was hosted by POTUS Shield founder Frank Amedia, Cahn said that God changed the course of the nation by putting Ronald Reagan in the White House in response to a prayer event held at the U.S. Capitol in 1980. He mentioned that 1980 was also the year of the failed attempt to rescue American hostages being held in Iran, which ended in a disastrous helicopter collision in the desert. Amedia said Cahn’s mention of the failed Iran mission “put chills down my back” because Boykin had taken part in that mission.
Discussing the mission, Boykin said that as a young captain he had watched eight good men die that night and had carried a “tremendous burden” for years. But he suggested that the incident may have been God’s way of ensuring that Reagan became president and could begin building up the U.S. military and its special operations capabilities.
“There is no question that Jimmy Carter would have been reelected had it not been for that incident,” Boykin said. “And as much as that devastated me and everybody else that was there that night, we have all been able to see that actually God made something good out of that.” Boykin offered a similar interpretation of that historical event at the Values Voter Summit in 2016.
In the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said, the good news is that “people are turning to Christ now because they have no other answers.”
Amedia asked Boykin to talk about China. Boykin said that “everybody I know understands that this COVID came out of China—it came out of a lab there.” He said that whether it was an experiment that was accidentally released or a deliberate attack is “still a question that is unanswered.” But he implied that he is inclined to believe it was an attack:
There’s evidence both ways—that it was an accident, and then there is also evidence that it was a deliberate attack by the Chinese. It is sort of strange that it never got to either Shanghai or Beijing. Now explain that. And, you know, that’s a question that has to be answered. So, they obviously had some kind of protection for those cities. But they were—they put a lot of people on airplanes and sent them to Europe as well as to the United States before the president shut things down.
Health experts say the evidence strongly indicates that the coronavirus evolved in nature and did not come out of a lab.
Other religious-right leaders have claimed that the COVID-19 coronavirus was engineered as a biowarfare agent. On April 30, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a statement saying that the U.S intelligence community “concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified,” but said that it would continue its effort to “determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals for if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.” Just days later, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed that there is “enormous evidence” for the lab theory, but said he agreed with the intelligence community’s statement about the virus not having been manmade.
Amedia said that he personally believes that the evidence points toward the release of COVID-19 having been “intentional,” which he called an “act of war” that would call for an appropriate response.
“And we don’t know what our president or our government know,” Amedia said. “But how it’s handled is very delicate because of the consequences to so many. I don’t think that the vast majority of Americans understand the precipice we’re at with the decisions that need to be made to that.”
Boykin also said that the Chinese government is exploiting the crisis by making aggressive land claims in the South China Sea and putting “tremendous pressure” on Taiwan and Hong Kong. Boykin said he believed Trump had “a divine wisdom” about the danger of the U.S. pharmaceutical supply chain being so dependent on China.
Boykin also spoke briefly about Iran, where he said the Islamist regime has lost the support of the people, who he predicted will topple “the mullahs.”
While in uniform in 2003, Boykin portrayed U.S. military involvement in the Middle East as a religious war between Christianity and Islam, which garnered criticism from the Bush administration. After he retired from military service, Boykin became an ordained minister and religious-right activist who has been criticized for calling for discrimination against U.S. Muslims, though he later claimed his views were mischaracterized. He is a co-author of “Sharia: The Threat to America,” also known as the “Team B II” report, which was published by anti-Islam activist Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy. Boykin and his supporters have used subsequent criticism of his rhetoric to portray him as the victim of religious persecution.