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Pastors Protest DeSantis Administation's COVID Response

Tom Flanigan
Bethel Missionary Baptist Church Pastor R.B. Holmes stands at the rostrum in his church's sanctuary, flanked by the leaders of several other Black churches in Tallahassee.

Nearly a dozen pastors from Tallahassee's Black churches are upset with the DeSantis administration's pandemic response. They held a Tuesday (10/26) news conference at Bethel Missionary Baptist Church to air their concerns.
Pastor Gregory James was among those demanding that local elected officials, such as school boards, be able to respond to the virus as they see fit without state government interference.

"To understand elected officials who serve our children as school board members who are fighting to do what they've been called to do and to have to deal with leadership that don't respect and understand their passion, we can't be silenced!"

School board members, such as Leon County's Darryl Jones, were stripped of their pay by the state for imposing mask mandates in their schools.

"We take a solemn vow and an oath to protect our children and teachers. And no amount of money will cause any of us - including myself - to compromise that responsibility," Jones commented.

The pastors also objected to the upcoming special session to outlaw mask and vaccine mandates along with the refusal of Florida Surgeon General nominee Joseph Lapado to wear a mask during a meeting with State Senator Tina Polsky who's battling cancer. R.B. Holmes, the influential pastor of Tallahassee's historic Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, which hosted the media event, said he'd long been a registered Republican, but had now decided to register as an independent.

"This Republican Party as we know it is not the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln. It is not the Republican Party of Frederick Douglass. It is not the Republican Party of the late, great Colin Powell."