A Hillsong church member who was vocal in his scepticism of Covid-19 vaccination has died from the virus.Brian Houston, founder of the Hillsong Church, took to social media to announce the passing of congregant Stephen Harmon, aged 34.
“Stephen was just a young man in his early 30s,” Mr Houston wrote.
“He was one of the most generous people I know and he had so much in front of him.”
Mr Houston also told CNN that Covid-19 vaccines are a “personal decision for each individual to make with the counsel of medical professionals”.
Mr Harmon had reportedly refused to be vaccinated even when he was fighting the coronavirus in a Los Angeles hospital this month.
Before falling ill with covid, he had posted a parody of Jay-Z’s 99 Problems song on Twitter, saying: “If you’re having email problems, I feel bad for you, son. I got 99 problems but a vax ain’t one.”
His scepticism then turned to worry when his condition deteriorated and he developed pneumonia.
“Please pray y’all, they really want to intubate me and put me on a ventilator,” he wrote on Sunday. “If you don’t have faith that God can heal me over your stupid ventilator then keep the hell out of my ICU room, there’s no room in here for fear or lack of faith.”
Mr Harmon had claimed that he wasn’t “anti-vax” but was “pro information”.
“I’m not against it, I’m just not in a rush to get it,” he wrote in a July 8 Instagram post.
“Ironically, as I continue to lay here … in my covid ward isolation room fighting off the virus and pneumonia.”
He also wrote: “Biden’s door to door vaccine ‘surveyors’ really should be called JaCovid Witnesses. #keepmovingdork”.
His Twitter and Instagram accounts became private following his death on Friday.
“Stephen’s thoughts on vaccines were his own,” Mr Houston wrote following Mr Harmon’s death.
“They do not represent the views and thoughts of Hillsong Church.
“Many of our pastors, staff, and congregation are fully vaccinated and more will be when vaccines become available to them in their countries.”
Mr Houston also told CNN that “any loss of life is a moment to mourn and offer support to those who are suffering and so our heartfelt prayers are with his family and those who loved him.
“On any medical issue, we strongly encourage those in our church to follow the guidance of their doctors,” Houston said.
Hillsong Church was founded in Australia but has congregations around the world.

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