A megachurch pastor in Florida told his parishioners not to take a COVID-19 vaccine and instead believe in ‘divine immunity’

President Donald Trump, right, embraces Pastor Guillermo Maldonado during a rally for evangelical supporters at the King Jesus International Ministry church, Friday, Jan. 3, 2020, in Miami. AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

A pastor at a Florida megachurch has encouraged his parishioners not to take the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available, and instead told them to “believe in divine immunity.”

Guillermo Maldonado, the founding pastor of Miami’s King Jesus International Ministry, made the scientifically inaccurate comment during a sermon that was streamed on Facebook Live on Sunday.

“Do not [take] the vaccine. Believe in the blood of Jesus. Believe in divine immunity,” he said to parishioners at an in-person service.

He also made false statements about the vaccine being used to track people, and claimed the vaccine would “alter your DNA” — a theory that has been debunked.

The pastor, who hosted President Donald Trump for a rally in January where the campaign launched an “Evangelicals for Trump” coalition, also referenced a “New World Order” conspiracy theory, warning parishioners about a “satanic global agenda.”

“They want to stop President Trump because he’s against that agenda,” Maldonado said.

King Jesus International Ministry did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment and further context on his statements.

Since the pandemic began, misinformation has spread online about COVID-19, with some people saying it was a “hoax” and even making false claims about vaccines containing microchips.

The US is getting closer and closer to having a vaccine available to the public, and health experts have said a vaccination could be essential in stopping the spread of COVID-19.

Cases, hospitalizations, and deaths from COVID-19 have reached all-time highs in recent weeks. More than 15 million people in the US have been infected with the virus since the pandemic began, and more than 289,000 people have died from the disease.