An Oklahoma pastor who smeared his saliva on the face of a parishioner during a sermon has apologised and admitted the stunt was “too extreme and disgusting”.
Michael Todd, who leads the Transformation Church in Tulsa, came under fire when viral video captured his alarmingly literal explanation of an analogy during a sermon titled: “Receiving vision from God might get nasty.”
To illustrate his point, the pastor had a man stand next to him as he snorted and coughed out saliva before rubbing it on the man’s face.
After the video spread like wildfire on social media, Mr Todd posted an apology to Twitter on Monday night, acknowledging it “crossed a line”.
“It’s never my intention to distract others from God’s Word and the message of Jesus… even with illustrations!” he said. “I apologize for my example being too extreme and disgusting! I love everybody.”
Mr Todd explained that he was “trying to make the word come alive” by wiping spit on the man later identified by Tulsa World as his brother, Brentom Todd.
He said despite his poor delivery, he hopes those who watch the video will take his overall message to heart.
Parishioners who watched the display unfold in real time appeared just as shocked as those reacting on social media, as gasps are heard rippling through the congregation when he loaded up his hand.
“And this is where most people would not face Jesus anymore,” Mr Todd said while holding his saliva in one hand and putting his other hand on the shoulder of the man on stage.
“What most people would do would [be to] turn away,” he said as he again coughed and spat out mucus and phlegm.
The pastor said that the man was physically standing next to him knowing what was coming and to show that a person must stand strong physically, emotionally and spiritually even when “receiving vision from God gets nasty”.
He then mixed the saliva in his hand and rubbed it all over the face of the parishioner.
The people in the audience let out loud “ewws” in disgust at the stunt.
“How you just reacted, is how the people in your life will react when God is doing what it takes for the miracle,” he told the audience in response.
The pastor previously worked with Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt to hold a state-wide day of prayer to protect the state against the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020.
The video of the act at the sermon was recorded on camera by churchgoers and was widely circulated on social media. Many called it a “publicity stunt” and criticised the pastor.
Twitter user Drew A Thomas said: “The Mike Todd situation is exactly why we need more faithful Bible teaching churches, not entertainers who seek to go viral every Sunday.”
Several others criticised him for ignoring coronavirus norms at a time when the US has continued to record a spike in Covid cases. On Sunday, the country reported 800,000 Covid infections and 1,964 deaths.
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