A popular Tulsa, Oklahoma, preacher went viral this weekend after a video showed him spitting in his hand and wiping it on a parishioner’s face as part of sermon illustration.
Pastor Michael Todd of Transformation Church evidently came up with idea while studying the Gospel of Mark and reading a passage where Jesus mixes mud with spittle and places it on a blind man’s eyes to miraculously give him sight. Todd said he took the action, which many critics are calling a stunt, to illustrate his sermon point that, “Receiving a vision from God might get nasty.”
Just before Todd coughs and spits into his hand, the audience, anticipating what he’s about to do, groans. “And this is where most people wouldn’t face Jesus anymore. What most people would do is turn away,” he says in response. Then, after rubbing the saliva on a man standing beside him on stage, who was reportedly Todd’s brother, the crowd gasps in horror. “How you just reacted is how the people in your life will react when God is doing what it takes for the miracle.”
Posted on Sunday, the video had racked up nearly 40,000 views by Monday afternoon.
Swarms of social media critics slammed Todd’s move as unhygienic at the best of times but especially reckless in the age of COVID-19.
Left-wing writer Tara Dublin mocked Todd’s religious beliefs, saying, “So when Pastor Mike Todd & the other guy get COVID, they’re just going to sit in church & wait for Sky Daddy to make them all better, right? Because if you don’t believe in the science of the vaccines, why would you believe in the medical treatments at a hospital?”
Though there’s little question his action was ill-advised, the severest criticism seemed to stem from Democrats who hold a particular dislike for Todd as a black pastor who supported President Trump and partnered with Oklahoma’s Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt to promote a state-wide day of prayer in response to the pandemic. Many of their posts included the hashtag #DemVoice1, a nod to a grassroots organization that seeks to put Democrats in office.
Sports journalist and Blaze Media personality Jason Whitlock asked his fans to show Todd some grace. “I’m going to pray for Pastor Mike Todd,” he said, “Young dude is a super talented minister. It’s difficult handling the kind of success he’s had. He made a mistake. Let’s hope he grows from this.” Conservative radio host Erick Erickson echoed this sentiment with a retweet.
On the other hand, popular Christian blogger Samuel Sey criticized Todd as a proponent of the “prosperity gospel”— a distortion of Christianity popularized by preachers like Joel Osteen that promises people God wants to make them healthy and wealthy. “When you follow prosperity gospel heretics like Mike Todd, you’ll simply get spit in your face—sometimes, literally,” Sey said on Twitter.
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