Hillsong pastor Brian Houston has said that getting the COVID-19 vaccine is a “personal decision,” even as he recommended people follow the advice of their doctors. Houston made his comments in a statement addressing the death of Hillsong member Stephen Harmon, who passed away from COVID-19 after making a series of posts mocking the vaccine.
“The death of Stephen Harmon was a sad day for those who knew him and called him a friend,” said Houston in a statement provided to CBS Los Angeles, which continued:
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. As a church, our focus is on the spiritual well-being of the people in each of our local communities. On any medical issue, we strongly encourage those in our church to follow the guidance of their doctors. While many of our staff, leadership and congregation have already received the COVID-19 vaccine, we recognize this is a personal decision for each individual to make with the counsel of medical professionals.
Stephen Harmon’s Tragic Passing
Houston issued his statement to media outlets that included CNN after publishing a now-deleted post on Stephen Harmon’s passing on Instagram and Twitter. In it, Houston, who had kept in contact with Harmon during the hospitalization, said, “Stephen was just a young man in his early 30s. He was one of the most generous people I know and he had so much in front of him.”
An ABC News affiliate reports that Harmon attended Hillsong in Los Angeles. Prior to his death and even during his hospitalization, he was outspoken against the COVID-19 vaccine. On May 26, Harmon tweeted, “When you can’t trust the Bible cause it was written by man, but you trust the CDC/Fauci guidelines cause they were written by man. Makes total sense.”
A tweet from June 3 reads, “If you’re having email problems, I feel bad for you, son. I got 99 problems but a vax ain’t one.” Harmon was hospitalized by at least June 30 due to contracting COVID-19 and pneumonia, and even after he was hospitalized, he said he would not get the vaccine.
On Sunday, July 18, Harmon said, “Please pray y’all, they really want to intubate me and put me on a ventilator. Even the slightest movements and my heart rate skyrockets and oxygen dependency increases. and please, I’m not asking for anyone’s opinion on intubation, I’ll make my own choice, I’m asking for prayer.” He added, “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.”
Three days before he died, Harmon posted that he had agreed to intubation: “I’ve fought this thing as hard as I can but unfortunately it’s reached a point of critical choice and as much as I hate having to do this I’d rather it be willingness than forced emergency procedure.”
Harmon passed away on Wednesday, June 21. His Instagram account was made private after his death, and his Twitter account is now private as well.