These days disturbing news comes from the Bethany Slavic Missionary Church in Sacramento, where, according to the local authorities, 71 members have been afflicted with the novel coronavirus. Several pastors are infected, including senior pastor Adam Bondaruk.
According to The Sacramento Bee, Dr. Peter Beilenson, Director of Department of Health Services, said that 71 members of the congregation or people associated with congregation are infected with coronavirus.
Dr. Beilenson said the church’s leaders do not cooperate with the state or county officials in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak. In particular, Sacramento health chief claims that the administration of the Slavic missionary church asked “to leave them alone”. And this happens despite the widespread of the deadly disease, both in the region and around the world.
It is worth saying that the Bethany Slavic Missionary Church is one of the largest Russian-speaking congregations not only in the United States, but throughout the Western Hemisphere. This large community regularly sends out its missionaries and have missions in many countries of the world: from Ukraine, Mexico to Malawi.
Adam Bondaruk, who leads this huge congregation, has been recently hospitalized with a coronovirus infection. He is the senior pastor of the church and bishop of the Union of Christians of the Evangelical Faith of the United States, was born in Ukraine and moved out to the United States in 1988 from Soviet Estonia. Bondaruk is also the father of 12 children, some of whom hold key positions in the Bethany Slavic Missionary Church.
According to church administration, Bondaruk is not the only one, who was infected with the dangerous virus, some of his direct assistants and pastors were affected as well. Two church ministers have recently passed away.
Notably, until the last moment, when President Trump and local officials issued the executive order, which forbids gathering in groups of more than 10 people, the church kept on holding services in home groups.
Vaccination from Satan
The Slavic community in Sacramento has a long history of confrontation with lawmakers in California – they constantly oppose vaccinating their children. Local Russian-speaking churches, including the Bethany, often went out to the Capitol in Sacramento with protests against vaccination of their children. Last year we observed a similar situation in the states of Washington and Oregon, where a large concentration of people from the former Soviet Union live. As it’s known, a measles epidemic spread widely there. Most of those so-called anti-vaxxers, consider themselves as believers. So they are convinced that all the vaccines are from Satan and make their children disabled or even kill them.
Chipping of the population
Meanwhile, in Slavic community of Sacramento and other American cities, rumors and completely groundless statements are spreading with the speed of the virus – allegedly the news of the pandemic is the conspiracy of the “global government” to introduce general mandatory vaccination, and then chip the citizens. All this, as many Christians believe, was predicted in the biblical book of Revelations: “both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name” (Revelation 13:17). Then, as soon as the Antichrist comes, everything will end. Believers think that under the guise of this pandemia, the US government will systematically implement digital control over the population of this country. This directly contradicts their religious conviction.
Contaminated water of the Bethany
As LA Times reported, last year the county authorities discovered contaminated water with chemicals in the well in the Bethany church. For many years, members of this congregation, as well as other communities in the city, have been drinking that water. The pastors claimed it as “holy water” and blessed people to drink it, which could cause cancer or other diseases.
Besides encouraging people to drink water from the contaminated well, for many years the church leadership have been baptizing young members of the congregation in the church pool with that toxic water.
Only after the publication of an extensive investigation in the LA Times, the church stopped consuming the water.
Real Estate Fraud
“Slavic Sacramento” has repeatedly written in about the shady activities of the church leaders and their kids. For example, “Slavic Sacramento” published several journalistic investigations showing up the connection between bishop’s son and the criminal group of Ukrainian, Armenian and Russian realtors, some of whom got sentenced for real estate fraud in the 2000-s. Several members of Bondaruk family were involved in this high-profile federal case. In particular, Adam Bondaruk’s son, Pyotr Bondaruk, got 5 years in prison.
Church’s fight against city officials
The Sacramento County has many records which indicate that for many years the Bethany administration had ignored the important directions and prohibitions of the authorities. For example, during the reconstruction of the church, fire extinguishers were not installed properly, which made them useless in case of fire. Or another example, in 2017 the Sacramento officials banned the church from gathering in a new hall, which had been improperly converted from a pool to a prayer facility.
The fight against civil liberties
The vast majority of the parishioners of the Bethany Church are religious refugees from the former USSR, where, according to them, they were persecuted for religious beliefs. However, having arrived in the USA, they tried to redraw the social philosophy of the American nation and the values оf this society for themselves. In particular, this applies to those civil liberties that America is so famous for all over the world. It is about recognizing the LGBTQ community as full-fledged citizens of the country. While the United States аrе immensely proud of society’s tolerance of the rights of sexual minorities, the Bethany Church’s members and leaders constantly advocated restricting the rights of LGBTQ people and came into conflict with their representatives.
And despite receiving the social benefits of California state (very unlikely believers from the former USSR would have survived without them), they continue to bear their intolerance into a free American society.
Belief in supernatural healing
Among the Pentecostal believers – basically immigrants from different countries of the former USSR, received political asylum in the United States, because, according to their statements, they had been persecuted by the communist authorities – the message is widely spread that no infection will affect the believer. And even if a person becomes sick, almighty God is able to heal him. This agenda is actively promoted by church leaders during worship services.
In local churches such places from Bible are constantly quoted: “they [believers] will pick up snakes with their hands, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not harm them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will be made well.” (Mark16:18)
“You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.” (Psalm 91)
Under the wicked, of course, most of Slavic believers mean people working for high-tech start-ups in Silicon Valley, as well as leading scientists working on cures for diseases and vaccines.
Only faith in God and church practice, according to those Christians, can save from a contagious disease and, consequently, death. Claiming this, the “people of God” continue to ignore basic sanitary rules, as it is also practiced in the Bethany church.
Both Soviet obstinacy and unwillingness to obey civil state power among Russian-speaking immigrants in the USA give an explosive effect – people go to hospitals too late and die.