ROCKLIN, Calif. — Pastor Greg Farrington at Destiny Church in Rocklin is once again stirring up controversy during the coronavirus pandemic, this time offering so-called “religious exemptions” to anyone who’s reluctant to comply with vaccine mandates.
In a social media post, Farrington said he has been approached by “hundreds” of people who feel “morally compromised” by mandatory vaccination requirements. Starting Aug. 15, Farrington said his church will be offering the exemptions.
"I think he's a fireball. He believes in what he preaches," said Bonnie Reed, who attended services Sunday morning. "For us who choose not to [receive a COVID vaccine], we put our faith in the lord, and Jesus is the great physician for us."
Farrington said the church is pro-freedom and not anti-vaccine.
"Our nation was founded on freedom of religion. People have the right to choose, if they feel morally compromised," Farrington said Sunday.
He also said the Sunday prayer service is for those whose livelihood has been threatened by the mandate.
"Let us make our decision, OK?" said Vasile Purcaroiu, who visited the church on Sunday to pick up a religious exemption form. "If we think that those risks outweigh the benefit, then we should decide for ourselves, not the government."
Farrington and Destiny Church have skirted the rules set by health officials since the start of the pandemic. In December 2020, several church members tested positive for COVID-19 after attending in-person services. Still, Farrington refused to move to virtual services. At the time, Farrington told ABC10 it was his congregation's choice whether they decide to attend in-person services.
“We are going to have people who, unfortunately, die of COVID, but it's such a small percent,” Farrington said in December. "People are getting sick, but they're recovering from this sickness."
Vaccine and masking mandates are being put in place throughout the country as COVID-19 cases, driven by the more contagious delta variant, spike again. The vast majority of new coronavirus cases are unvaccinated individuals.