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Evangelical preacher Rev. Wade Morris died from COVID-19 this week after speaking at an Oklahoma Christian camp where an outbreak of the deadly virus has occurred.
The traveling preacher was a marathon runner but was still taken down by the virus.
"I think Wade himself, he knew the risk of going towards Falls Creek when he, when COVID was here, and he chose to go out there and fulfill what God told him to do," camp attendee Joshua Morris told KFOR. He was there when Rev. Morris was and he and his family contracted COVID as well. "I knew the danger of it, but I wasn't really worried about it because we're going to worship God and praise him."
Oklahoma is experiencing a startling increase in COVID cases similar to what it experienced during the worst of the pandemic. In just 24 hours, Oklahoma had 2,000 new COVID cases. The day prior had 1,600 new cases. It's an increase of 5,597 cases since Friday, July 30.
Speaking to KWTV, teenage camper, Braeden Morris said, "I was very happy for him because, not only did he die doing what God called him to do—preaching at Falls Creek, that's what God called him to do—but he's with Jesus now."
"I wish we could have avoided all getting COVID, and I'm very sad about Wade passing. But the thing I remember from Wade, is that he was more concerned about God's kingdom than where we are here on Earth," Braeden said.
"We've seen the number of new cases a day in Oklahoma double in the past 10 days; more than 1,600 cases a day right now and hospitalizations have gone up considerably also; 739 people in the hospital as of yesterday. We have some real concerns right now," Dr. Dale Bratzler, OU's Chief COVID officer, told KTAB News on Tuesday.
White evangelicals like the ones at Falls Creek are among the top groups resisting the COVID-19 vaccine. As the Wall Street Journal reported last month, COVID isn't a unique vaccine problem for them.
"White evangelicals have a history of vaccine resistance: A 2017 survey by the Pew Research Center found that 22 percent of white evangelicals opposed mandatory measles, mumps and rubella vaccinations for children to attend school, higher than for other major religious demographics," said the report.
While television evangelicals, like Franklin Graham, are advocating for the vaccine, others are afraid to, concerned that it will decrease their church attendance and the money they pull in from church members, said the Journal.
"It's instead about the mistrust and distrust that's evident in American society right now," Rev. Russell Moore told PBS in an April interview. "And, plus, I think some of it has to do with the fact that we have been isolated from one another in lots of ways for over a year. And much of the way that misinformation and disinformation gets combated is with people in conversation with one another."
"And that's why lots of us are doing what we can to say, vaccination is not only something that's acceptable for Christians; it's something we ought to thank God that we have the technology for, because it's going to get us back to doing the things that we need to do quicker," he also said.
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