As the US is witnessing a surge in Covid-19 cases with many anti-vaxxers fueling several conspiracy theories, a Florida bar owner has now created a new controversy and shared his belief that God told him not to get vaccinated. He told his employees that he wouldn't be complying with the federal vaccine mandate for businesses, because "God told me not to take this vaccine."
On September 13, Joe Penovich, owner of the Grills Seafood Deck & Tiki Bar, took to the bar's FB page to announce his opposition to vaccines. He said that all Christians should seek guidance from God before receiving the vaccine.
He owns three restaurants in Central Florida and has around 400 employees, reported News 13.
Religion As a Tool to Spread False Claims
In his now-viral FB post, Penovich says: "I believe God told me not to take the vaccine... It happened in a very powerful way, during an intentional sabbatical of prayer, way before the debate became so heated and the possibility of government action existed." He claims he didn't make the announcement earlier because "there is a deep divide over the issue," which is "consequential".
"The debate over effectiveness or complications of this vaccine carry little weight with me. I'm not sure any of us know the full truth, " Penovich wrote. "But I do believe Christians can and should be getting direction from the God we profess to know, more than the news we choose to listen to."
Pernovich said in the memo that he has lost friends and family to the virus, but trusts his faith to protect him.
The statement comes as a response to President Joe Biden's recent mask mandate. He said he had directed the US Department of Labor to require all private businesses with 100 or more staff to mandate the jab or request proof of a negative coronavirus test from employees at least once a week.
Social Media Reactions
Netizens slammed Pernovich for his "foolish" and "insensible" remarks. One Twitter user wrote, "His faith tells him to endanger his customers? Got it. Everybody listening? Grills is the place to go if you thin freedumb is more important than life." Another wrote, "God told me you're a liar."
One comment read, "Eff him! Not spending a penny on biz that won't keep their customers safe! Repulsive!" Another said, "Thank you for letting me know that you personally are insane. I stopped dining there after the lack of masks and was really hoping to return but this is a deal breaker for me."
"God isn't going to save anyone from a ventilator. Only science can do that. Get vaccinated," suggested one internet user. Another twitted, "There's nothing political about Covid but there is life and death. God gave us scientists, medical professionals, and a lifesaving vaccine. To blatantly refuse it is not an act of Christianity. Neither is not caring about others."
One comment read, "You really shouldn't use God to further your own political agenda. Shame on you."