Saskatchewan cabinet Minister deletes ‘pray and repent’ tweet over COVID-19

Saskatchewan cabinet Minister deletes ‘pray and repent’ tweet over COVID-19

REGINA — A Saskatchewan cabinet minister who tweeted an Old Testament passage where God tells people to pray and repent to cure an epidemic says he deleted it out of concern it may have sent the wrong message.

As the province responds to the COVID-19 outbreak, Minister of Highways Greg Ottenbreit tweeted a photo early Saturday where a section of scripture is highlighted and circled with the text “Pay Attention Children.”

In that particular passage God says when he sends an epidemic onto his people, if they “pray to me and repent and turn away from the evil they have been doing” they will be forgiven and their lands will be restored.

Ottenbreit says in the tweet “I guess it worked a few thousand years ago …couldn’t hurt.”

In a statement, the Yorkton-area MLA says his Christian faith is important to him and he intended to encourage those inclined to pray to do so.

He says he realized the picture framed it harshly and felt it could be interpreted to mean that’s all one should do, which is why he deleted it.

As of Saturday, Saskatchewan has reported 134 cases of COVID-19.

“I believe faith and prayer to be important, however, everyone needs to follow the direction being provided by governments and health officials regarding safe protocols, self-isolation and social distancing in order to reduce the risk to themselves and others,” Ottenbreit said in the statement.

Last year Ottenbreit, who opposes abortion, drew criticism in his previous portfolio as Minister of Rural and Remote Health when he told a convention of others opposed to abortion in his home constituency that he would “continue the fight.”

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