A lot of U.S. news stories in the last couple of days are describing the case of the recently deceased Bishop Gerald O. Glenn, of the New Deliverance Evangelistic Church of Richmond, VA, who was preaching to a packed house during the Covid-19 outbreak:


An evangelical pastor died of COVID-19 just weeks after proudly showing off how packed his Virginia church was — and vowing to keep preaching "unless I’m in jail or the hospital."
Happily announcing he was being "controversial" by being "in violation" of safety protocols — with "way more than 10 people" at the church — he vowed to keep his church open "unless I’m in jail or the hospital."

None of the news stories I've read so far indicate what specific recommendations, and by whom, he disregarded. It appears that the governor of Virginia didn't issue a social-distancing executive order until after March 22nd (the date of the "controversial" service described).

Given that "religious nut gets just deserts" is a pretty standard trope in news stories (which might cause lazy reporters not to bother looking closer):

Did the bishop actually defy specific social-distancing orders that applied to Richmond, Virginia?

  • 1
    I did find this, which doesn't specifically mention churches, though it does talk about gatherings of more than 10 people.
    – Kyralessa
    Apr 14, 2020 at 13:47
  • You should make that an answer (it's from March 17)
    – antlersoft
    Apr 14, 2020 at 14:13
  • I could, but a good answer might include more background information and context, such as national as well as state and local recommendations.
    – Kyralessa
    Apr 14, 2020 at 14:22
  • @PCLuddite The governor's order says beer, wine and liquor are essential, but not church. governor.virginia.gov/media/governorvirginiagov/…
    – DavePhD
    Apr 14, 2020 at 14:39

1 Answer 1


The Bishop did not follow a recommendation, but followed all orders.

As explained in Prominent Virginia pastor who said ‘God is larger than this dreaded virus’ dies of covid-19:

On March 22, five days after Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) had urged people to “avoid non-essential gatherings of more than 10 people,” Glenn told his congregation that “I firmly believe that God is larger than this dreaded virus,” ...

On March 23, Northam ordered nonessential businesses closed and banned all gatherings of more than 10 people.

More particularly, Executive order 53 says:

Effective 11:59 p.m., Tuesday, March 24, 2020 until 11:59 p.m., Thursday, April 23, 2020, all public and private in person gatherings of 10 or more individuals are prohibited.

  • Is there something in the news story saying that the executive order was followed? I couldn't find it.
    – Kyralessa
    Apr 14, 2020 at 14:41
  • 5
    @Kyralessa no, but this does: "Glenn’s death comes after his last in-person service on March 22." people.com/health/…
    – DavePhD
    Apr 14, 2020 at 14:44

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