Churches blamed for spreading Covid virus and misinformation

Many of the new Covid cases in Auckland are linked to the Mt Roskill Evangelical Fellowship church, and there is growing criticism of the attitude of some churches to Covid, and for spreading misinformation similar to what is being spread by US churches.

Yesterday Minister of Health Chris Hipkins hinted at concerns about attitudes to testing and disclosure about Covid.

RNZ: Student who tested positive an undisclosed contact, Hipkins says

“We did identify yesterday, in the cluster of cases announced, that there were a couple of cases that had not been previously identified … it would appear that somewhere along the way someone has not fully disclosed all of their contacts.”

“Obviously this is information we’d have liked to see sooner and we may have had fewer infections as a result had we known about the chain of connection.”

The authorities are now looking into whether that was on purpose.

“We’ve got community leaders in there, we’ve got police working alongside Auckland Regional Public Health as well to make sure we are getting all of the information that we need.

“That’s one of the things that the investigation is looking at now and it will include looking at whether there was a deliberate decision not to disclose, or whether it was simply an oversight,” Hipkins said.

He said this sub-cluster has been a challenge to work with as some members do not understand the seriousness of the situation.

“There are certainly some within the cluster that perhaps don’t accept or haven’t previously accepted the science involved here.”

They are now being educated on the gravity of the situation, he said.

“It would certainly appear that they were skeptical at the beginning,” Hipkins said. “I think that a lot of work has been done with them since then.”

Auckland University microbiologist Dr Siouxsie Wiles told Morning Report

… it’s not surprising to hear some in the community are skeptical about Covid-19 and disinformation has been spreading.

“There are very key people in our communities within New Zealand and people in positions of influence who are really trying to disrupt our team of five million by spreading false information about the pandemic,” Wiles said.

“If that’s the reason why some people are not disclosing contacts or have not been cooperating, we’re now going to see the consequences of that.”

“This is a team of five million. This is about people and it only works when we all do our bit … it’s on all of us to be really mindful about sharing disinformation and talking to people around us who might be having these views.”

Today from RNZ: Churches with links to the US being blamed for spreading Covid-19 misinformation

New Zealand churches with US links are being blamed for spreading Covid-19 misinformation.

Health Minister Chris Hipkins has said some of the 43 people linked to the Mt Roskill Evangelical Fellowship church cluster in Auckland were sceptical about the seriousness of the pandemic, as church and community leaders say they face a battle to check the spread of false information.

Pakilau Manase Lua grew up in the Seventh Day Adventist church and said his own friends and family were guilty of spreading conspiracies and false information about Covid-19.

“I’ve personally received lots of private messages regarding information that people think is useful but is purely disinformation, either about the virus itself or fear around the vaccine,” he said.

Lua, who is the chairman of the Pacific Leadership Forum’s Pacific Response Coordination Team, said this spread was especially rife among those with links to conservative evangelical or pentecostal churches in the United States.

“It’s been spreading like wildfire through social media.”

Including here. It’s not just linked to churches, it is also political.

Media chaplain and Wesleyan Methodist minister Frank Ritchie said some ministers were losing the battle to stem the flow of misinformation amongst their congregations.

“What I’m seeing is ministers who are doing the right thing, but their people are being indoctrinated online.”

Some congregation members were angry their minister did not agree with what they were reading on the internet about Covid-19, he said.

A study by Te Puunaha Matatini found there was a spike in mainstream media coverage of conspiracy theories following the outbreak of Covid-19 in August.

Researcher Kate Hannah said they were often spread by marginalised people who were historically distrustful of science or government.

Lua, who set up an online Kava Club during the March lockdown, said the forum was often used to spread fear and misinformation about the coronavirus.

But he was also using it as a space to challenge that, with some success.

“We tell them straight up ‘that’s rubbish’ and ‘here’s the other side’.

“So we give them the information and evidence and every now and then we’ll have a win, but it is hard because there is so much disinformation out there.

This ‘misinformation’ – with some it’s ignorance being spread, with others it seems to be deliberately used to make political attacks – is a risk to the whole country.

The current spread of Covid in Auckland is keeping the city and the country in level 2 lockdown. This impacts on community health, and also on jobs and businesses around the country.

People who spread crap are putting us all at risk.

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55 Comments

  1. John J Harrison

     /  10th September 2020

    Left unsaid is the fact that these clusters are confined to Maori and Pacific Island congregations.
    They have a propensity to believe in voodoo type worship and the Pastors bloviating is the gospel they believe and adhere too at the expense of everything else, including the health of their families and the wider community.
    Ban the preaching for a month and we may make progress.

    Reply
    • duperez

       /  10th September 2020

      The white man bought alcohol and religion. That worked out well didn’t it. 🙃

      Reply
      • Jack

         /  10th September 2020

        Religion was already here. It was a problem then and still is. Of particular nuisance is when indigenous try mixing spiritual ways that don’t belong together. It’s a complexity, caused by generations of slack Christians. The spreading of “crap” is only a symptom.

        Then it’s not just the indigenous trying to combine incompatible spiritual ways. It’s many. As this nonsense gets ingrained into Kiwi culture we have problems we wouldn’t get otherwise.

        It wasn’t long ago that doctors and scientists were well respected. Ditto, for healthy discourse. There are scientists on both sides of the covid debate. The fact that our government runs with one side while preaching culture is extremely worrying.

        Reply
      • No one was forced to adopt either, Dupe.

        Reply
    • Blazer

       /  10th September 2020

      You could school them on the sacred 10 Commandments…you know they make….sense!

      Reply
    • This is pure racism from someone who is just as adept as the churches at spreading misinformation and fomenting mischief.

      Reply
    • They do; theft and murder are crimes in most countries, having a weekly day off from work makes sense. Bearing false witness against thy neighbour is slander, libel and defamation. We all know the sad consequences of adultery.

      Reply
  2. Harry

     /  10th September 2020

    So daring to question the covid hysteria is misinformation. Whatever. And it’s not a flu virus keeping the country at Level 2, it is a totalitarian government aided by scientists paid by that same government.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  10th September 2020

      Nearly 1000000 people have DIED….Harry….its the BIG one…Harry.

      Reply
      • lurcher1948

         /  10th September 2020

        Wow,god doesn’t protect you from covid no matter how much you tithe,but you will have a nice island choir when you pass from covid singing for you and your deluded soul.

        Reply
        • Jack

           /  10th September 2020

          What would really help is the exposure of the Seventh Day Adventist church as a cult. Full of lies and going strong. Bad news for NZ.
          Lurch, I’d want to wipe the smile off singing faces too, even at a funeral. It’s best I don’t go to such places!

          Reply
        • Harry

           /  10th September 2020

          Assuming I am religious = fail. Assuming I will contract covid – how nice of you.

          Reply
      • Harry

         /  10th September 2020

        Quoting bogus statistics fails to impress me. There is a difference between dying with covid and dying from covid. Do I need to explain that to you?

        The figures have been grossly manipulated to heighten fear. In the USA, hospitals have been paid extra to record deaths as caused by covid when they were not.

        Reply
        • Parroting Russian/Trumpian disinformation doesn’t make it any more real.

          Reply
          • Orange man bad! The Russian did it! Your disinformation is showing.

            Reply
            • “Orange man bad! The Russian did it!” That was the bipartisan conclusion of the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

              Notes:
              1. the conclusion is bipartisan – senators from Republican and Democrat parties agreed
              2. the USSSCI is chaired and dominated by Republican senators

              But noooo … it’s all “my” disinformation. Get over yourself.

              As far as the facts go regarding COVID-19 deaths, The US has roughly 4% of the world’s population and 23% of the world’s COVID-19 deaths. That’s damning.

              As is the fact that Trump deliberately downplayed the severity of the pandemic at a cost of tens of thousands of American lives, a fact which he has acknowledged and, Lordy, there’s tape.

            • Fight4nz

               /  10th September 2020

              The Orange man has said it is much worse than flu in an interview released today.

        • Actually it has just been revealed that Trump deliberately downplayed the severity of Covid: Trump says he minimized coronavirus, didn’t want to create panic: Woodward book

          President Donald Trump acknowledged in February he knew how deadly and contagious the novel coronavirus was but did not convey that information to the American people because he did not want to create a panic, according to Trump interviews cited in a new book.

          https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-book/trump-says-he-minimized-coronavirus-didnt-want-to-create-panic-woodward-book-idUSKBN2602TR

          Reply
          • Not spreading panic is a good thing, but he seems to have gone completely the wrong way about it !!!

            Reply
          • David

             /  10th September 2020

            And Biden played it down a month later. No one knew.
            Trump banned travel from China way ahead of us so just because he didnt run around panicking people he is a bad man. Deeds not words and his fiercest critics Newsom and Cuomo are both on record saying Trump provided everything they needed

            Reply
            • Duker

               /  10th September 2020

              Didnt Run around panicking people …you mean like he does on every other issue

  3. David

     /  10th September 2020

    There have been rumours of unofficial services circulating since the outbreak and again the utter uselessness of the authorities or their timidity because of fear of being called racist has tripped us up yet again.
    This outbreak was in the Pacifika community you dont need the brains of an archbishop to identify the risks that should be mitigated surely. We have a whole bloody ministry for Pacifika people so dont tell me they didnt know what was occuring.
    When this is over and there is an inquiry I hope they actually develop some supra organisation that is activated that actually takes responsibility and is accountable because the DHBs, Ministry of Health, Customs, MPI, Air Force and uncle tom cobbly is bloody shambles when its overseen by ministers who are to be perfectly frank bloody useless.

    Reply
    • Jack

       /  10th September 2020

      When government preaches culture the people get brain fuzzed. Mind fogs

      Reply
    • duperez

       /  10th September 2020

      The ‘supra organisation’ could simply be ‘the individual.’ People just decide what they’re going to do, things carry on as normal.

      We don’t trust politicians, we don’t trust bureaucrats, we don’t trust scientists, we don’t trust the media.

      When all else fails believe yourself. Oh, and for some, believe in the bible.

      Reply
      • We were told that NZ was covid-free and this was trumpeted far and wide, so it’s not surprising that people didn’t realise at first that they had it. They had no reason to at that time.

        Reply
  4. duperez

     /  10th September 2020

    Those ‘sacred’ 10 Commandments, are they the sacred ones out of the sacred Bible?
    Or are those the ones left after Trump had the hoax ones taken out so his behaviour fitted tidily within the parameters of those remaining?😊

    Reply
  5. Brian Johnston

     /  10th September 2020

    Another communist atheist attack on Christianity. Think the Bolshevik attacks on the Russian Orthodox Christians. And the Armenian & Greek Pontian massacres.
    There are many sheeple who don’t have a clue what’s going on.
    Don’t get me wrong, the churches annoy me though I don’t let my feelings interfere with the facts. The virus has to have been put into those congregations deliberately and judging by the negative comments it is having the desired effect.
    The virus is not natural. Wake up!

    Reply
  6. Jack

     /  10th September 2020

    What is the desired effect the negative comments are instigating?

    Reply
  7. It’s *amazing* how many contrarian arguments about COVID-19 amount to “old, sick and poor people dying don’t really count.”

    Reply
  8. Jack

     /  10th September 2020

    Sorry, perhaps you meant that the “deliberate” virus planting is having the desired effect?
    Really, anything is possible in today’s culture of fear and mistrust. If you’re right, the evidence may never surface.
    Suppressing these ideas hardly has the desired effect of unity and strength. It’s good to have Brian’s input.
    The Confusion master likes to have everything open ended with never a closure, a constant muddle of unhelpful feelings.
    I for one strongly believe that Covid 19 is a political issue more than medical. I think the best we can do is to be open minded and kind. Oh, and pray of course.
    This must be very frustrating for the scientists not on the governments books

    Reply
  9. NOEL

     /  10th September 2020

    What’s annoying is they were approached by the Police for not following guidelines before during the level three.
    Sorry it’s blatant disregard for others.
    Court time.

    Reply
    • The PM is on the news hugging people and snuggling up for photos. No handsan between these, of course.The rest of us are being ordered to observe social distancing, and businesses are suffering because of this.

      If it’s safe for her to do this, why isn’t it safe for the rest of us ?

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  10th September 2020

        Show one … apart from Collins getting a thumb suck from a baby they are all ‘distancing’…

        but heres one who isnt distancing .at the “Honest Lawyer’ in Nelson LOL
        https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/122676924/david-seymour-visits-nelson-to-support-local-act-candidate

        [Deleted – PG]

        Reply
        • duperez

           /  10th September 2020

          Thanks for that link. I can spend a few minutes working out what this means:

          “The Government should be the referee rather than a player in our Covid recovery,” he said. “People think the Covid response has been too politicised.” (David Seymour) 😷

          Reply
        • Look at last night’s news. She was hugging what looked like ambulance staff. She was touching other people and knelt down to sign a book for a child. She was never 2m away from people, and they were not 2m from each other. This was in Whakatane, I think, I know she was there.

          Reply
          • 3 news can be seen on demand, and I imagine that the same scenes were on 1 news. The PM is elbow to elbow with people and hugs some as well as doing the inane elbow bump with others.

            Reply
          • Duker

             /  10th September 2020

            Its 1m in controlled environments under Level 2

            Physical distancing at Alert Level 2
            At Alert Level 2, you can leave home and do many aspects of everyday life. You should follow public health measures and consider others around you.

            We still need to be careful and socialise safely to keep COVID-19 under control.

            What we can do:

            Keep a 2 metre distance in public. Take extra care if you interact with people you don’t know as it won’t be easy to do contact tracing if needed. This means making the space when you’re in places like playgrounds, parks, retail businesses, shopping malls or walking along the street.
            Keep 1 metre physical distance in ‘controlled environments’ where contact tracing and other public health measures are possible. This includes places like cafes, church groups, gatherings, restaurants and gyms.

            Reply
  10. Kimbo

     /  10th September 2020

    Yet no discussion of the inherent dangers of Siouxsie Wiles and Ashley Bloomfield achieving celebrity, near-deity status? Irrespective of Covid, it is a very dangerous state of affairs when public servants end up with their faces on t shirts and t towels. Then again I suppose the All Blacks appear on merchandise. 😳😂

    And yes, churches, or at least especially the more fundamentalist variety which seeks to capture the original message of the 1st Century Jewish apocalyptic sect which gave birth to the 2,000 year old movement – is in a sense built on a conspiracy theory of sorts. The current world order is in some sense under the sway of a godless rebellion, and at some point in the future the entire created order will be transformed by the dramatic in-breaking of Jesus’ return. In the meantime Christians are to faithfully defend (sometimes at the cost of their lives) and proclaim the truths that have been revealed to them, even and especially when it goes against common and expert “opinion”.

    Hence on a variety of current issues – evolution, abortion, euthanasia, gay identity, gender fluidity – conservative Christians will ultimately, almost automatically/instinctively reject any appeals to “evidence-based” arguments, primarily because it is contrary to the primary faith position, therefore the alleged particular evidence in question must be biased or straight out lies and falsehoods. And they expect ridicule and persecution for their beliefs, which fuels paranoia. Hence it is not surprising that views and conspiracies waaaaay outside the mainstream scientific consensus, be it anti vax, flat earth or climate change resonate more easily. If you have practice being a cultural and social mainstream nay-sayer, it gets easier to accept new conspiracies.

    But we live in a social democracy where, while freedom of otherwise-ordinary action and movement is sometimes temporarily restricted as now, nonetheless freedom of thought and speech should not be restricted. Christians are usually law-abiding (they are commanded to be peaceable and obey godless pagan tyrants like Tiberius, Caligula and Nero in the New Testament), and usually act like it.

    If Wiles can’t factor into the lockdown strategy the equation that compliance is always ultimately a matter of winning cooperative hearts and minds, not coercion, that in the age of the internet there will always be alternative “facts”, that there will be competing “influencers” speaking contrary to the orthodoxy and supposed scientific consensusshe represents, and you have to design a Covid response strategy that deals with the human foible of bloody mindedness…then she is not sufficiently knowledgeable to be opining beyond her specialist field of expertise. Irrespective of whether she is now a celebrity.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  10th September 2020

      “it is a very dangerous state of affairs when public servants end up with their faces on t shirts and t towels”
      Last time that happened was when Don Brash was Governor of Reserve Bank…
      Far better that we have Bloomfield than Chloe of Wainuiomata..

      instead we are stuck with the Deconstructor of Christchurch

      Reply
    • Jack

       /  10th September 2020

      Christians are not supposed to get too concerned, or necessarily involve themselves, in worldly matters. Therefore what does it matter how liberal our democracy becomes?

      Personally, Ms Wiles irritates me. We have far better scientists re Covid than that!

      For the Christian the Way is to carry your cross for Church, therefore I try to point out to others the cultural nonsense we are tolerating (my cross involves showing a way forward.)

      It’s the Christian carrying his cross which brings the mockery, not his speaking out about lax morals in the land. I dare say that most of the Christians who do that are dropping their crosses.

      No one understands the cross except until he does. It’s a choice, an incredibly simple one.

      Would appreciate your response to this Kimbo. It seems to me that your cross to bear involves the spiritual talent of teaching. Therefore the only place you may honestly utilise this is in Church

      Reply
      • duperez

         /  10th September 2020

        We have far better than Wiles re covid. How are you judging that? What has she done re covid which could have been done better by someone else? By whom?

        Reply
        • Jack

           /  10th September 2020

          Had in mind Simon Thornley from the Plan B group when I wrote that

          Reply
          • duperez

             /  11th September 2020

            Okay, we’ll sideline others and just hear from Thornley shall we? Or hear from others who don’t have colourful hair? Or are women?

            Reply
            • Jack

               /  11th September 2020

              There are women with nice hair in the Plan B team if that’s what you’re worried about.
              Your response is shallow, as is the attitude of multitudes hero worshiping certain individuals.
              Covid is supposed to be a medical issue and it’s not. This is my concern – not the superficial qualities of who fronts the camera.
              It appears highly likely our government is not ‘listening to the experts’ at all. Celebrity status should not be occurring to Kiwi servants.
              Certainly, no expert should be sidelined. What wastefulness.

  11. Alan Wilkinson

     /  10th September 2020

    Bizarre articles on disinformation that are apparently too frightened (or ignorant) to identify it.

    Reply

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