ARRESTED FOR DISOBEDIENCE OR PERSECUTION?: Pastor who claimed Christians would not contract coronavirus becomes infected himself – arrested [#PastorArrested] 05/22
A pastor in Myanmar who claimed Christians would not contract the coronavirus and then became infected himself is being charged with defying public assembly restrictions.
His detractors, including fellow believers, say the pastor held religious services illegally amid the global pandemic.
But an international religious liberty watchdog claims that authorities in the majority-Buddhist nation are unfairly targeting the church.
Canadian Burmese pastor David Lah and Myanmar national Wai Tun were arrested in April 2020 by authorities in Myanmar, also known as Burma, for allegedly holding worship services in Yangon despite a restriction on large public gatherings aimed at curbing the coronavirus pandemic.
One worship gathering led to a cluster of 67 COVID-19 infections.
Pastor David Lah, founder of DREAM Ministry International, was among those who fell ill despite stating in a March sermon, “If you hear the sermon of God, the virus will never come to you.”
Pastor David Lah was hospitalized and then quarantined for 21 days before being remanded to prison.
Following a May 20, 2020 court appearance, the judge said that Pastor David Lah would remain in jail while authorities investigate his case.
Pastor David Lah and Wai Tun could face up to 3 years in prison, and 3 others could be charged in the case.
Yet public health is not the sole issue in Pastor David Lah’s case, according to Jeff King, president of International Christian Concern (ICC).
According to Jeff King, Pastor David Lah did not blatantly defy Myanmar’s assembly restrictions.
After COVID-19 interrupted Pastor David Lah’s plans for a large gathering, he transitioned to online services.
However, about a dozen “excited followers” showed up as Pastor David Lah live-streamed an event.
One of them was a coronavirus carrier, and a cluster of infections resulted.
“We’re not fans of superstitious comments like Pastor David Lah’s claim that Christians are immune from COVID-19. But this case just smacks of persecution. He is not the only one who disobeyed the ban. So where’s the lineup of Buddhists who have been charged?”
– Jeff King, President of International Christian Concern (ICC)
Myanmar’s Christians—who comprise 6 percent of the majority-Buddhist population—are split in their reactions to Pastor David Lah’s case.
According to Gina Goh, ICC’s regional manager for Southeast Asia, some Myanmar’s Christians are upset with the controversial pastor and believe he should be punished.
Others sympathize with Pastor David Lah and favor either a light punishment or deportation.
Myanmar Christians Split Over Canadian Pastor Arrested for Violating COVID-19 Restrictions: