Bethel Church: Supernatural COVID-Spreading, Plus a Viral Vacation Video

(10/13/2020 Shasta County COVID cases update for 10/12/2020: 95 cases; 1 death.)


Dear Aaron Tesauro,

You’re the Bethel Church communications director, so you seem the best person to contact in light of a recent unfortunate event.

I’m referring to Beni Johnson’s Instagram video during a recent mother-daughter trip to the coast.

This video is darn damning, Aaron, because it’s created by Beni Johnson, not just a Bethel leader, but she’s married to Bill Johnson, Bethel’s No. 1 guy.

From Bethel Church’s 2020 website, Bill and Beni Johnson, senior Bethel leaders.

And add to the mix their daughter, Leah Valenzuela, a Bethel worship leader.

By now, Beni’s Instagram video has probably gone nearly as viral as the COVID virus that’s spread through your Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry.

Yes, Aaron, Bethel’s high numbers of positive coronavirus cases have caused Shasta County to slide down that hellish tiered rainbow from orange to red. A bruising purple awaits us. Nobody is happy about that. It’s a scary time for us all, well, for most of us.

Believe it or not, as horrible as Bethel’s super-spreader situation is, and as much damage as it’s caused the North State, that’s not why I’m reaching out to you today.

My point, Aaron, is to bring to your attention the growing Bethel Church public-relations nightmare. Take a look on social media. There’s a two-fold outrage in our community and it’s pointed directly at Bethel. Part of the outrage is related to Bethel’s high number of COVID cases, and how that’s punished our whole community with tighter restrictions and more sick people.

The other part of the community outrage is an increasing lack of trust in Bethel. Beni’s video was a boiling point for many people. As proof, I grabbed some Facebook comment examples for you. For what it’s worth, every single comment was negative. Every one. That should tell you something, Aaron, because it’s rare to find a subject that unites Facebook users as much as Beni’s video has:

“Unbelievable…just wear a mask. Other cities all over California and Oregon will not let you come into their store without a mask…Whats wrong with Redding…every store I go into ..people in there without a mask.”

“Disgusting! They had to take their plague rat mentality to the coast too. I travel there for work and they are doing a great job as a community in Humboldt.”

“As if I needed another reason to hate Bethel…”

“I find it very offense what these woman chose to ridicule and the manner they did it in”

“It’s beyond offensive, it’s evil.”

“So many idiots. China is back to normal life but looks like it will be a long time before Redding gets there. How dare you!!!!!”

“I do not see “love thy neighbor as thyself“ anywhere in there. If the younger one cannot wear a mask, put on a shield. Or maybe she should pray for deliverance from whatever disability makes her unable to wear a mask.”

“she kind of laughed when she said that, indicating that is a lie”

“Why isn’t the dude who was attempting to make a citizens arrest at the BOS meeting over at Bethel making arrests there? They’re the reason we’ve risen to the next tier of restrictions!”

“I see a very rich woman snubbing her nose at a working person for daring to tell her to follow the law.”

“yep! How dare she be inconvenienced while she is traveling to their county and giving them her gold dust covered church donations.”

Source: Doni Chamberlain’s Facebook page.

That’s just a sample, Aaron, just from my Facebook page. You should see what’s being said on others’ pages.

Bethel Doublespeak

You and your press releases may say one thing about the benefits of masks and social distancing, but Beni’s video clearly shows she’s not in line with Bethel’s party line. Or is she? It’s so confusing. Which reminds me: Do you wear a mask when a store requires one, Aaron? Just curious.

Here’s Beni’s video, in case you missed it.

Let’s review, shall we?

Beni: Can I just say that there’s way too much security in a freakin’ mask that doesn’t even work. So we’re in – or we’re on the coast — I won’t tell you where.

Leah: If you check my store, you’ll know where. (laughs)

Beni: if you check her store you’ll know where. (Laughs.)

Leah: I’m going to pull out. (Laughs)

Beni: So we are standing in the line to get our food – outside no mask on …

Leah: Like 12 feet away from people.

Beni: And people are moving away from us and talking about us. And the thing is I walked up to the lady to order nd I put my mouth over my sweatshirt just to be …

Leah: Your sweatshirt over your mouth. (laughs.)

Beni.: … My sweatshirt over my mouth … (laughs) just to be nice. And she said, ‘No, you have to wear a mask.’ And she made Leah step away.

Leah: (looking serious) And I said, ‘I have a medical condition and I cannot wear one.’

Beni: Yeah, so she stepped away, so I had to order with a mask on and I’m like; so, so this mask is better than my sweatshirt?

Leah: That makes no sense. (laughing)

Beni: I don’t think so. If you do the scientific research these masks are worthless.

Leah: Placebo! (laughs)

Beni: And they’re people’s, they’re people’s security blankets. It’s just really, really sad. So we wanted to do a little bit of shopping in this cute little town, over on the coast they have the cutest little stores, but now we won’t be doing any shopping and giving them any money because you have to wear a stupid freakin’ mask that doesn’t even work.

Leah: Let’s go to Willow Creek to that one cute little farm stand!

Beni: Oh Yeah, let’s do that! Leah: You’d think if people are hippies they’d be free. (laughing.)

Beni: I know, right? In fact, we even heard a lady say, ‘They must be voting for trump.’ (laughs)

Leah: I love that the mask is a political statement; apparently, which it’s not! Because I know people that wear them who are voting for trump. It’s so stupid No! Uhhhh!

What a difference a month makes

Remember back on Sept. 10, when you sent the press release that said COVID-19 tests were administered to 997 Bethel staff and incoming students, with not a single positive case?

Fast forward to not even one month later, and your Oct. 7 press release announced that as of Oct. 6 the total number of positive cases among staff and students since September was 137.

Let’s not even imagine what Bethel’s numbers will look like in another month.

Let’s focus upon your current problem, Aaron, and that’s the major disconnect between what you and your press releases are saying and what Beni Johnson and other Bethel folks are doing and saying. We’ve got a major case of doublespeak and duplicity at play here, Aaron.

Shasta County people aren’t stupid, Aaron. We notice things like that.

In one recent press release, you even quote Bethel’s No. 2 leader, Kris Vallotton, who sounded earnest enough:

“It’s our honor to do our part to serve and protect the city of Redding in this time, and always.” – Kris Vallotton, Bethel Senior Associate Leader.

Plus, your recent press releases have said you require students and staff to wear face coverings at all times, to socially distance on campus, to self-monitor for symptoms, and undergo daily temperature checks taken at the door.

Really, Aaron? It is true? How can we be sure?

After seeing Beni’s video, where the mother and daughter are laughing and mocking people who wear “frickin’” masks, they call into doubt whether those COVID protocols are being adhered to at Bethel after all.

Beni Johnson is basically Bethel’s queen and her loyal subjects follow her lead. If Beni says masks are stupid and worthless, worn only by weak people who need a security blanket, don’t you think Beni Bethel fans will reject masks, too?

Over the years, most non-Bethelites have learned to look the other way at Bethel shenanigans, but during a pandemic Bethel followers’ reckless behavior puts tens of thousands of innocent lives at risk here in Shasta County.

The truth is, the problem isn’t just Beni’s Instagram video, and it’s not just the fact that Bethel is jacking up Shasta County’s positive COVID numbers with each day. The problem is there are other recent examples of Bethel duplicity.

No doubt you’d rather forget it, but remember the statement put out after the stunt pulled at the Sundial Bridge by Sean Feucht, Bethel’s most famous (so far) plague rat?

Well, how does that fit with the fact that Beni Johnson and daughter Leah attended Feucht’s Sacramento rally, maskless?

Center: Beni Johnson and daughter Leah at a Sean Feucht rally in Sacramento. Source: Facebook.

And how about the fact that both women have openly encouraged him on Facebook?

Feucht (rhymes with exploit) is growing more emboldened by the day. Does he care whether he’s unwelcome in places like Nashville? On the contrary. It appears as if publicly Bethel claims to not condone Feucht’s antics, while privately, in Bethel’s inner sanctum, I would not be surprised if there are whoops, fist pumps and prideful cheers for Bethel’s Jesus-look-alike naughty little brother who’s become more and more famous with every city he invades under the guise of worship. Holy baptismal water, Aaron! Your plague rat was just covered in Rolling Stone!

And just think, he’s a Bethel product. Congratulations, Bethel.

It’s similar to Beni and Leah, thumbing their noses at a small coastal community that dared do what it could to keep its businesses and citizens alive. So what does Beni do? Goes away mad and takes her cash to some fruit stand up the road, perhaps run by “hippies” who will accept her money, even if she’s not wearing a mask.

Oh, the entitlement of it all!

From Leah’s Instagram: A masked clerk waits on Beni Johnson at a coastal fruit stand.

The Johnsons are extremely wealthy people who want for nothing materially in a city with increasing numbers of homeless, where the economy is barely hanging on, where people are losing jobs and businesses, and increasing numbers of people are getting sick.

Frankly, in that video, the Johnson women come across as entitled, ignorant, rude crybabies.

“But now we won’t be doing any shopping and giving them any money because you have to wear a stupid freakin’ mask that doesn’t even work!”

Can you see how cringeworthy those kinds of statements sound, Aaron?

How clueless Beni was, and what ungracious visitors she and her daughter were to that little town. Newsflash: The point is not whether or not her sweatshirt would work as well as a mask. It probably would.

The point is that when we’re a guest somewhere, whether it’s a town, or someone’s home, or a Sprouts store or a restaurant, it’s good manners to comply with the hosts’ requests, wishes, customs, or preferences. To do anything else is uncouth and disrespectful. And if an outdoor food establishment in a tiny tourist town asks us to please wear a mask, then be a good human citizen of the world during a pandemic and wear the damn mask.

Sure, we’ve known for some time that Beni has ridiculed masks, unless they’re for her personal health, such as during the fires.

But Beni’s vacation video, in light of the damage done to Shasta County by Bethel’s high number of COVID cases, takes things to a whole other level of distrust.

I’m sure that if anyone in that coastal town overheard that video rant they’d be hard pressed to believe those two are known at Bethel as women of God.

Especially noteworthy is the part of the video in which Beni goes all Einstein.

“If you do the scientific research these masks are worthless,” she said.

Seriously? Is this the time to play the science card? Riddle me this: Where was the science in the grave-sucking episode in which Beni Johnson placed her body over C.S. Lewis’ burial site?

Likewise, where’s the science in Bethel’s glory glitter clouds, sanctuary feathers, people getting drunk in the spirit, dubious healings or attempting to bring dead toddlers back to life? Let’s bring the scientists to Bethel, shall we? Send those feathers and glitter samples to a lab, for starters. Glory hallelujah, what a day that would be!

Another day.

But regarding the science that supports masks’ efficacy, there’s plenty of evidence, such as found recently in Nature, one of the top three science publications in the world.

Here’s an excerpt: Nevertheless, most scientists are confident that they can say something prescriptive about wearing masks. It’s not the only solution, says Gandhi, “but I think it is a profoundly important pillar of pandemic control”. As Digard puts it: “Masks work, but they are not infallible. And, therefore, keep your distance.”

Wishing , hoping, and where to go from here?

Aaron, I’m sure you wish with all your heart and all your soul that Beni and Leah had kept their whining to themselves, finished out their trip of spending money in places that would endure their maskless faces, and return home and complain privately. But no, Beni posted it on Instagram for all to see and share, and share, and share and share.

That’s where we are now, Aaron.

Granted, you’re just the messenger, the guy who’s probably wondering why in hell he ever accepted this thankless, impossible job in the first place, when he could have worked elsewhere, like the Greater Redding Chamber of Commerce, for example.

Does it frustrate you to dutifully send out press releases announcing all the ways in which Bethel’s supposedly complying with public health mandates, only to to see Facebook posts about large raucous BSSM gatherings and parties?

Oh, riiiiight. Those events weren’t held at Bethel. Loophole! You got us!

Where do we go from here, Aaron? Can you see how the next press release you send out will be greeted a bit like fake yells from the little boy who cried wolf?

It’s the tale of two Bethel Churches. The one Bethel Church donates half a million dollars to the city for public safety, has BSSM kids trim weeds along the river banks, and blows smoke up the derrières of Shasta County citizens by telling us what Bethel thinks we want to hear.

The other Bethel appears two-faced, and doesn’t do as it says it does, and all the while, Bethel’s duplicity seems to mock us mere plebeians who give Bethel the benefit of the doubt.

Bethel’s benefit is waning. But the doubts are real.

Best of luck to you, Aaron. You’ll need it.

Doni Chamberlain

Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded A News Cafe in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain holds a Bachelor's Degree in journalism from CSU, Chico. She's an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She's been featured and quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, L.A. Times, Slate. Bloomberg News and on CNN, KQED and KPFA. She lives in Redding, California.

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