Victory Church Under Fire For Viral Footage Of Large Gathering Amid COVID Spike

Nov 20, 2020

Tulsa's Victory Church is drawing scrutiny for hosting a large, indoor concert with little mask-wearing this week, as COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations soar and the CDC and White House advise Oklahomans against gathering with those outside their immediate households.

"My reaction to seeing that stuff online is the same as I see it any time that I see folks that aren't taking this seriously," said Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum, asked about the incident at a Thursday press conference.

"You see the pictures on social media of what occurred at that event," Bynum said. "That clearly, to me, demonstrates the limitations of the rules that we have in place right now and the need to amend them."

Bynum said the city council is preparing to discuss potential tightening of local restrictions at a meeting next week that may include penalties for failure to comply with the city's mandatory mask ordinance, restrictions on event size, or other measures.

Victory Church Pastor Paul Daugherty declined comment Friday, directing Public Radio Tulsa to a church spokesperson who did not respond to multiple emailed requests for comment.

Bynum said the church filed a COVID safety plan as required by the Tulsa Health Department, but that it clearly did not prevent risky behavior, which he found "frustrating."

The mayor said there are issues enforcing public health measures even in his own government. He said the city's planning commission recently held a meeting inside City Hall while violating the ordinance requiring face coverings. He said a member of the body attempted to debate what was required in the ordinance.

"The ordinances that we set in place, the rules that we put in place? Those are a minimum standard. Those should be the minimum that you think about," Bynum said.

"It shouldn't be what you can get away with," the mayor said. "This isn't a game."