HOUSEHOLD of God Church founder Pastor Chris Okotie has condemned recent health protocols introduced to stop the spread of Covid-19 saying that wearing a face mask or shield in church goes against the basic tenets of the Christian faith.
Nigeria, like most other countries imposed widespread restrictions ion movement in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, including banning religious gatherings. Of late, however, churches and mosques have been allowed to re-open across many states of Nigeria but under strict conditions, which include the wearing of facemasks and observing social distancing.
In Lagos State, Governor Babajide Sanwoolu said that religious centres will be allowed to reopen as from tomorrow Friday August 7. However, the governor noted that the faith centres would only be allowed to open once a week and operate at 50% capacity.
Governor Sanwoolu added that all standard prevention and control measures such as physical distancing, mandatory temperature checks, the use of face masks in public, regular disinfection of premises and personal hygiene, must be strictly adhered to. However, Pastor Okotie has attacked these measures, saying he would not reopen his church under these conditions.
In a 28-minute special broadcast sent via WhatsApp to his church members, Pastor Okotie said that although he acknowledged the precautions put in place by the government to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the wearing of face masks was unacceptable. Citing various bible references, the clergyman said wearing a mask or a face shield to church is separation from God because it is like reintroducing the veil which was torn the moment Jesus died on the cross.
Pastor Okotie said: “When a man is standing before God in church wearing a shield or mask, he is denying the finished work of the cross. Before we offer our sacrifices and lift up holy hands before God, we must make sure that everything is decent and in order.
“We must only follow the protocols outlined in the bible, not any directive that violates the basic tenets of our faith. Social distancing in the church of Jesus Christ is tantamount to blasphemous infidelity and an impeachment of the integrity of the word of God.”
In May, Pastor Okotie had countered the position of the Christian Association of Nigeria for recommending social distancing as a condition for reopening churches. In July, he accused Bill Gates, Microsoft founder, of leading a global conspiracy to destabilise the world economy and execute a satanic agenda against the church.