Conservative pastor Rick Wiles has claimed that the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is spreading in synagogues as punishment from God for Jews refusing to follow Jesus.
Wiles made the comments on the Wednesday night edition of his show TruNews. The preacher reacted to news that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was considering a national lockdown due to COVID-19 by insisting that God had sent a “plague” to the synagogues in order to punish Jews.
“Stay out of those things, there’s a plague in them. God’s dealing with false religions,” said Wiles. “God’s dealing with people who oppose his son, Jesus Christ. He’s dealing with the forces of Antichrist. And there’s a plague moving upon the earth right now, and the people that are going into the synagogues are coming out of the synagogues with the virus.”
“It’s spreading in Israel through the synagogues,” he continued. “Let me tell you Mr. Netanyahu, let me tell you ADL: God. God is spreading it in your synagogues. You’re under judgment because you oppose his son, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Newsweek reached out to ADL for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.
The preacher also claimed that the U.S. outbreak “started” at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference in Washington, D.C. on March 2, despite the fact that the first case and the first outbreak were both reported in Washington state.
Six attendees of the AIPAC conference have reportedly fallen ill due to the virus, representing a very small portion of the over 80,000 U.S. cases as of Thursday.
Wiles began characterizing the virus as a weapon of God’s divine retribution shortly after the initial outbreak emerged in China. During a January 27 broadcast he called the virus a “death angel” and said it was being used as punishment for China’s “Godless communist government.”
He also predicted that the virus would punish America for its “spiritual rebellion,” which he said includes offenses such as “transgendering little children.”
Although conspiratorial claims by Wiles often target foreigners and LGBTQ people, he rarely misses an opportunity to include Jews. On February 14 he claimed that the transgender rights movement was “a Zionist plot” involving “putting specific things in food, in drink” in order to “make all of humanity androgynous.”
Wiles is also an avid supporter of President Donald Trump and once insisted that impeachment proceedings against the president were part of a “Jew coup,” warning that the actions would lead to a “civil war.”
TruNews received press credentials during Trump’s January visit to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland and have claimed several other invitations from the White House.