Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves doubled-down on comments he made last Thursday suggesting that the faith of Christians in his state and other parts of the South makes them "a little less scared" of COVID-19, but made it clear he was not endorsing the flouting of public health guidelines amid the pandemic.
Responding to a question from The Associated Press during a news conference Monday, where he was asked to clarify what he meant by his comments, Reeves said, “What I meant when I said that is exactly what I said.”
“Now, I feel certain you read the article in which the very next sentence after I said what you just asked. I also said that the Bible also teaches us to take necessary precautions. And in our state and in our nation right now, there are certainly necessary precautions that we can take with respect to COVID. But I believe very strongly in my faith,” Reeves said before citing John 3:16 from the Bible to support his position.
“I believe very strongly in what the Bible says, and the Bible’s very clear that ‘Whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life,’” Reeves said. “And that is my worldview. It’s how I believe; it’s what drives me every single day, and I think it’s what drives a large number of Mississippians. We should take necessary precautions with respect to COVID, but we also understand that we do have everlasting life if we believe in Jesus, if we believe in God the Father, and I certainly do.”
Reeves first said that faith made Christians in his state and other parts of the South “a little less scared” of COVID-19 at an Aug. 26 fundraiser held at the Eads home of Shelby County Election Commission Chairman Brent Taylor, according to the Daily Memphian.
“I’m often asked by some of my friends on the other side of the aisle about COVID … and why does it seem like folks in Mississippi and maybe in the Mid-South are a little less scared, shall we say,” Reeves said.
“When you believe in eternal life — when you believe that living on this Earth is but a blip on the screen, then you don’t have to be so scared of things,” he said before adding: “Now, God also tells us to take necessary precautions.
“And we all have opportunities and abilities to do that, and we should all do that. I encourage everyone to do so. But the reality is that working together, we can get beyond this. We can move forward. We can move on.”
Numbers posted by the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 tracker Monday show that during the week that ended Saturday, Mississippi had 102.3 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents and nearly 1.4 new coronavirus deaths per 100,000 residents. Mississippi also reported nearly 8,000 new COVID-19 cases during the weekend. Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, Mississippi has had 439,611 confirmed and probable coronavirus cases and 8,490 deaths among its over 2.9 million residents, the state Health Department said.