By Ramishah Maruf, CNN Business
Updated: Sun, 05 Dec 2021 21:45:14 GMT
The media may not be paying enough attention to the influence of Christian broadcasters when it comes to Covid-19, CNN chief media correspondent Brian Stelter said on "Reliable Sources" Sunday.
Marcus Lamb, who made an anti-vax stance his crusade, died Thursday after being hospitalized for Covid-19.
Lamb, a popular Christian televangelist who founded Daystar Television in 1997, touted alternative remedies over vaccines to his viewers. At least five conservative media personalities who promoted vaccine skepticism have died of Covid-19.
"The Covid pandemic has been very difficult for churches," Bob Smietana, national writer at Religion News Service, said on "Reliable Sources" Sunday. "It shut them down ... it has become seen as an attack on religion."
Lamb felt he was preaching the truth about vaccines — claiming they were part of a conspiracy by Big Pharma, the media and the government, and that alternative medicine was a better option.
CNN's chief media correspondent Brian Stelter said there's a "toxic merger" of right-wing politics and some churches.
"They're preaching the gospel of Donald Trump and vaccine denialism," Stelter said.
Despite Lamb's death, his followers are unlikely to believe in vaccines' effectiveness and will continue to view the pandemic through the lens of spiritual warfare in which Lamb was attacked for spreading the truth about Covid-19, Smietana said.
"His folks won't stop with their promotion of vaccine skepticism and alternative treatments for Covid because they see that as continuing the good fight," Smietana said.
Christian media outlets, which often don't get much coverage from major news sources, sometimes predict trends before they go mainstream.
"They tapped into the critical race theory debates long before it became popular in the regular media," Smietana said.