The Bridge Fresno decided to resume indoor services and go against California health guidelines coming from Sacramento. Andrew Smith justified the decision claiming he was concerned about the domestic abuse and mental health issues coming from quarantine. About a week after they did this a COVID-19 infection broke out among some of the staff. This blog looks at the poor decision making made by Andrew Smith. Plus this blog would like to ask Andrew Smith when did he ever care about abuse? After all he gave the pulpit of The Bridge Fresno to Bryan Loritts who was involved in the cover up of voyeurism and child pornography scandal at Acts 29 Fellowship Memphis. But this blog also asks…with a light at the end of the tunnel with vaccines in the pipeline..why expose people to risk?
“Then you get to the end of the service,” Collins said. “You can’t get a bunch of Christians not to hug each other and not want to shake hands with the pastor as they go out the door and maybe have a conversation a lot closer than six feet away. And that’s where the trouble happens.“
Francis Collins at NIH
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
Romans 13:1-8 ESV
Jeff Loven preaches at The Bridge Fresno
California is closing down indoor gatherings and resuming with many counties moving into the purple tier. Fresno county has moved into purple tier and is one of 41 counties to have ended up in the purple tier. Across much of California a stay at home order went into effect on Sunday night December 6, 2020. According to the Los Angeles Times in the previous week California averaged nearly 19,000 new coronavirus cases each day last week. Hospitals in California are being overwhelmed. In Fresno County the COVID-19 infections are getting worse. There are 40,000 cases and currently there are 14, 811 ongoing cases. And there are 506 deaths related to the coronavirus. When you look at the ARCGIS breakdown for Fresno County the bulk of the infections are happening to people in their 20s and 30s. Among Fresno County hospitals the surge of COVID-19 patients are stretching the resources of the hospital.
Andrew Smith of The Bridge Fresno is Going to Defy Government…
On November 17, 2020 Andrew Smith of The Bridge Fresno released a YouTube video giving an update of this EFCA church and the COVID-19 pandemic. He talked about the church being closed and said that we know more about COVID-19 today than we did in March. He also said that being at home is solitary confinement which is what the guilty do. In response to Governor Gavin Newsome’s restrictions which are based upon COVID-19 infection rates Andrew Smith then explains how The Bridge is going to meet inside despite California law. Previously they were outside. You can hear him saying it at 2:10. He then claims that he is doing this because Jesus commands that people meet. This is why the law must be disobeyed. And he also says that they know more about COVID-19 then they did in March. They can adapt to the norm. So the in-person on campus services are schedule to resume. Andrew also said that data points at the increase in mental health issues and domestic abuse and other forms of abuse, this is another case to re-open. He then says social distancing and can work inside a church. The rest of the video basically is about why some people can stay at home. He closes by talking about adapting to COVID.
…Then a COVID-19 Outbreak Happens Among Some Staff it Appears
About a week after that video that was released on November 17, 2020 Andrew Smith of The Bridge Fresno released another video on November 25, 2020. You can watch that video below.
This blog doesn’t have much information and if people have information about who was infected with COVID-19 this blog would like to make that public. This is a highly contagious disease and for contract tracing purposes and especially for an environment where people were allowed indoors into staffing situations people need to know who was infected. This is not something to trivialize. The writer of this blog knows about 15 people who have had it, and of at least 5 deaths of COVID including a close friend of my family in California. So this information needs to be publicized. When this blog wrote about a 9 Marks church in Atlanta, Georgia it publicized the pastor of Christ Covenant Church contracting COVID-19. You can read that in, “Jason Dees of Christ Covenant Church Has Tested Positive for COVID-19. Would a Coronavirus Outbreak in a 9 Marks Neo-Calvinist Church Show God’s Sovereignty at Work?”
Why is Andrew Smith Ignoring the Advice of Francis Collins of the National Institutes of Health?
Recently Francis Collins of the National Institutes of Health gave an interview with NPR in which he asked and implored churches to go to remote services. Recently he did a zoom discussion with Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. They discussed the COVID-19 pandemic. Here is some of what was said.
“The virus is having a wonderful time right now, taking advantage of circumstances where people have let their guard go down,” said Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health. “Churches gathering in person is a source of considerable concern and has certainly been an instance where super spreading has happened and could happen again.”
Collins, himself a regular churchgoer who speaks often about his Christian faith, discussed measures that church leaders can take to protect their congregations in a Zoom conversation on Thursday with Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.
“Most churches really ought to be advised to go to remote services, if they’re not already doing so,” Collins said.
Andrew When Have You Cared About Abuse? Or is this About Money?
Andrew Smith claims that the quarantines are creating mental health crisis and leading to domestic abuse. This blog acknowledges that challenges exist. And its not ignoring that issue either. I’ve read several articles in the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times that raise that very issue. But is opening up the physical church which exposes people to the coronavirus the way to do it? First of all this blog told the story of Bryan Loritts who was involved in the child pornography and voyeurism scandal at Acts 29 Fellowship Memphis. This blog tried to notify The Bridge Fresno of the situation when Andrew Smith invited him to speak to the congregation. Given them articles either that I have written or what was written in the Memphis Commercial Appeal which is the local paper for Memphis. The Bridge Fresno ignored the the warnings. And instead had the server block my emails. And he gave a man who covered up sex crimes and abuse in Acts 29 the pulpit. You can read more about that in, “Rick Trotter is Sentenced for Illegally Recording “UpSkirt” Videos at Richard Rieves Downtown Church and Goes on the Tennessee Sex Offender List; Plus Bryan Loritts Speaking Commitments Including my Former Church in California, The Bridge Fresno.” So again this blog asks…when did Andrew Smith ever care about abuse?
But there is another situation that is also concerning. Andrew Smith choose to make these decisions that went against the CDC and their guidelines. Andrew said that he knew what to do and that we know a lot about COVID-19 so that is why he made the decisions. Is Andrew qualified to make medical decisions? Has he attended and graduated from medical school? Does he have a degree in medicine from UCLA, USC, UC Davis, UC Riverside, UC San Francisco or Stanford? The answer is that no he does not. So why is he making medical decisions that go against medicine and claim to know more than those who work in medicine? This is distressing and troubling as Andrew Smith is exposing more people to risk. Watching that video up above I felt like I was watching the Home Shopping Network late at night. I expected Andrew to reach out from the television and say, “its yours for only three payments of $19.95. Have you credit card handy and call 1-800-IMA-SUCKER!” But is the reason why Andrew Smith doing this because of money? Has giving declined during the virtual meeting? Is money the driving decision in the end? Why put people’s health secondary to their health. The ethics of that is suspect and troubling. Due to the issues with this risky decision making this blog plans to write about more and ask about what the EFCA West District Superintendent can do about this. Again if anyone has any stories about The Bridge Fresno they want to tell through this blog, I will give them the platform.