Judge Issues Restraining Order To ‘Church’ Selling Bleach As COVID-19 Cure

|
April 17, 2020 5:41 p.m.
EDITORS' NOTE: TPM is making our COVID-19 coverage free to all readers during this national health crisis. If you’d like to support TPM's reporters, editors and staff, the best way to do so is to become a member.

A federal judge in Florida ordered a “church” hawking bleach as a holy sacrament to stop selling it as a COVID-19 cure.

“Genesis II Church of Health and Healing” has in recent weeks marketed an industrial bleach concoction long a mainstay in anti-vaccine circles — “Miracle Mineral Solution,” or MMS — as a coronavirus prevention and treatment elixir, prosecutors alleged in a complaint Thursday.

On Friday, Judge Kathleen Williams approved a temporary restraining order to prevent the four men behind the church from hawking the elixir.

In reality, most MMS is just chlorine dioxide — “a powerful bleaching agent,” as the FDA warned last year.

Nonetheless, the church’s websites advertise “sacramental Dosing for Coronavirus” and feature a full page of testimonials about the bleach mixture’s effectiveness against the virus.

“I was really skeptical of MMS but my little autistic brother has been taking it since he was like 3 and he’s 11 now and every time he got sick he’d get over it within like a day no matter the severity,” read one unsigned testimonial on a church website. “He never got sick from it or anything so I decided to give it a try and boy oh boy I was surprised it really does work.”

“It was a terrible time but it worked no matter what anyone says it really works,” the purportedly happy customer added.

The Florida men — Mark, Joseph, Jordan and Jonathan Grenon — are part of a larger group that was one of the early popularizers of bleach as a “cure” for dozens of conditions. One of the church’s founders, Jim Humble, was described by Newsweek in 2018 as a former Scientologist. He’s also a former gold prospector, ABC News reported in 2016, in a story that called Genesis II Church  officials “the high priests of snake oil.”

The oddly structured organization  — “a free church under common law” that is “not under commercial law,” its website proclaims — is devoted to the bleach concoction, which has dangerously grown in popularity in recent years as a home remedy for autism.

A reggae jingle at the top of a recent online broadcast from the church sang the praises of the bleach mixture.

It’s a thorn in the side of corrupt institutions,” the song goes. “A drop of chlorine dioxide starts a health revolution.”

Underneath the ensuing 150-minute conversation, text on the church’s website blares: “G2Voice Broadcast #182: The Coronavirus is curable! Do you believe it? You better!”

According to the complaint against church’s “archbishop” and “bishops” — Mark, Joseph, Jordan and Jonathan Grenon — the religious leaders really just label and distribute MMS.

Despite a letter from the FDA and FTC last week ordering them to stop advertising the bleach as a COVID-19 cure, Genesis II Church kept going.

“We take donations, we don’t sell anything,” Mark Grenon said of the FDA letter on a recent “G2Voice” broadcast. “How dare you call our sacraments fraudulent!” he added.

In a letter back to the FDA and FTC, Grenon essentially claimed his organization was exempt from laws regulating medical claims, arguing its distribution of “sacraments” was a matter of religious freedom.

“‘Branding?’ We are NOT commercial code!” he wrote. “NOTE: You are trying to put us in your box and try and get us under your authority.”

Prosecutors didn’t appreciate that response.

“When warned by authorities that their conduct was unlawful, Defendants responded with open defiance, explicitly avowing that they need not — and will ‘never’ — obey the law,” they wrote.

As of Friday, the advertisements for MMS as a COVID-19 treatment were still live on Genesis II Church’s websites.

Key Coronavirus Crisis Links

TPM’s COVID-19 hub.
Josh Marshall’s Twitter List of Trusted Experts (Epidemiologists, Researchers, Clinicians, Journalists, Government Agencies) providing reliable real-time information on the COVID-19 Crisis.
COVID-19 Tracking Project (updated data on testing and infections in the U.S.).
Johns Hopkins Global COVID-19 Survey (most up to date numbers globally and for countries around the world).
Worldometers.info (extensive source of information and data visualizations on COVID-19 Crisis — discussion of data here).
Comments
advertisement
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Senior Editor:
Special Projects Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front-End Developer:
Senior Designer:
SPECIAL DEAL FOR PAST TPM MEMBERS
40% OFF AN ANNUAL PRIME MEMBERSHIP
REJOIN FOR JUST $30