The Shasta County Recall is a Death Cult


According to the Wikitionary, there are essentially two kinds of death cults. The first type consists of a religious movement that worships death or the dead; think the ancient Egyptians with their mummified pharaohs resting for eternity in enormous pyramids, or to a lesser degree, the Christian affinity for tombstones.

The second type of death cult requires its adherents to demonstrate their faith to the group by engaging in acts that involve the risk of death, either to group members or those outside of the group.

Think the disaster that occurred in Jonestown, Guyana, in 1978, when Jim Jones ordered his flock to drink Kool-Aid laced with cyanide and 909 people died.

It’s the latter type of death cult that currently afflicts Shasta County. It is comprised of members who believe the COVID-19 pandemic is a hoax, and that any measures taken to counter the virus, which has killed 633,000 Americans, including 252 residents of Shasta County, are unnecessary.

The members of this death cult risk not only their own lives, but the lives of the entire community around them.

They were on full display last week after District 4 Supervisor Patrick Jones allowed an unruly mob to invade the board chamber once again.

A gathering of protesters followed District 4 Supervisor Patrick Jones into unpermitted Board of Supervisor chambers. Photo by Patricia Graves.

The mob was comprised of healthcare workers protesting employer mandated COVID-19 vaccinations, and members of the Red, White & Blueprint, one of the groups seeking to recall three Shasta County supervisors because they complied with state measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 during the pandemic.

As Doni Chamberlain reported, several speakers addressed the subject of mandatory vaccinations, including a Dignity Health doctor who exaggerated the number of people who’ve been infected with COVID-19 by at least double, a healthcare worker who similarly overestimated the number of her cohorts refusing to get vaccinated, a school board member who claimed the switch to remote learning was worse than the disease, and a woman who claimed it was her God-given right to reject mandatory vaccination.

It’s plausible to say some, if not all, of these speakers were demonstrating faith involving the risk of death—if not their own, then someone else’s. Whatever the merits of their remarks, none of them expressed any awareness or concern that COVID-19 is presently surging in Shasta County, placing it firmly in what would be the red tier if the state’s rating system was still in effect.



It’s the fourth surge since the pandemic began. New records have been set for hospitalizations and trips to the ICU. As this is being written, the number of COVID-19 cases has exceeded 100 for several successive days, and appears to be rising exponentially.

Approximately 40 people have died from COVID-19 so far this month, including two men in their 40s and at least one fatal breakthrough infection in a vaccinated 80-year-old man.

The Shasta County Health and Human Service Agency reports that as of Aug. 22, the county’s case rate is 408 cases per 100,000 in population, the 7-day positivity rate is 9.3 percent, and the COVID-19 transmission level is high, placing Shasta County well within the red tier.

Given this high rate of transmissibility, particularly with the D-variant strain of the virus, the HSSA offers the following advice on its Shasta Ready website:

“At this level, we encourage everyone to follow CDC recommendations: Wear a mask while indoors and get vaccinated if you have not yet.”

Nevertheless, with the exception of a handful of people, no one was masked up in the crowded chamber last week. It’s safe to wager that the majority of the people there to protest mandatory vaccinations were themselves unvaccinated.

The same goes for the RW&B posse, as well as the other two groups involved in the recall effort in attendance, Recall Shasta and the Shasta County General Purpose Committee.

It’s highly doubtful that the collective members of this death cult will follow HHSA’s recommendations to mask up and vax up. Masks in particular seem to trigger Carlos Zapata, the co-producer of the RW&B docuseries and the putative head of the recall movement.

During his August 2020 infamous speech , Zapata chided the supervisors for “hiding” behind their masks. He predicted violence if the county didn’t drop all of its COVID-19 precautions. Shasta County’s second COVID-19 surge began shortly afterward.

This August, Zapata zeroed in on Chamberlain, who was reporting on last week’s demonstration, where she was among the few people in the chamber wearing a mask.

Zapata, the man who claims we’re raising a generation of participation trophy wusses, started out by claiming all children are traumatized by masks. Then, after spying Chamberlain, Zapata completely lost all composure, exploding in a coarse, vulgar, misogynistic tirade that undoubtedly scared the crap out of the more civilized members of the audience.

He swaggered out of the chamber as if he’d just hopped off a bull.

I’m not sure if Zapata is aware that he’s leading a death cult. It’s not like I haven’t tried to drop him a hint. I’ve chatted with him several times on Facebook Messenger during the past year, and he’s asked me on a couple of occasions why A News Café has covered his activities so relentlessly.

I told him the same thing both times.

“You’re trying to kill my parents,” I said. “It’s as simple as that.”

Me and mom.

It remains that simple to me; the battle between the death cult and rationality. My dad is 84 and my mom just turned 80. They’re not in any shape to take on the novel coronavirus. My main goal in life for the past year-and-a-half has been preventing them from catching it.

My parents no longer drive, so I run errands for them. When the pandemic spread to Shasta County last March, I ceased substitute teaching and switched to remote work, lest I unknowingly infect them and myself with COVID-19. We’ve all managed to remain virus-free, and received our jabs when they became available earlier this year.

I realize nobody lives forever, but I’d prefer my parents pass away peacefully in their sleep in the comfort of their own home rather than choke to death on mucous while being intubated in an overwhelmed hospital intensive care unit. I’m funny that way.

My parents and I follow all of the CDC’s COVID-19 guidelines, with some modifications. For example, we only use N95 and KN95 masks, which provide superior protection compared to the surgical and cloth masks recommended by the CDC. The N95 and KN95 masks also work great for filtering out the carcinogenic particles from wildfire smoke. After an initial shortage at the pandemic’s beginning, they are now readily available online.

When my parents answer the door for grocery deliveries, they mask up. When I take either one of them to a doctor’s appointment, we mask up. Almost every doctor’s office we visit still requires staff and patients to wear a mask.

When I run errands, I mask up, even though most—say 90 percent—of the customers in the supermarkets and box stores I shop at are no longer wearing face coverings. That’s problematic, because just 43 percent of Shasta County residents are fully vaccinated and we’re at the beginning of what could be our largest COVID-19 surge so far.

Shasta County is nowhere near herd immunity, as the rising tide of infections indicates. While there have been a few breakthrough cases involving vaccinated individuals, the overwhelming majority of new infections are people who haven’t been vaccinated.

The reasons why are complicated, but there’s no question that the death cult operating in our midst is hindering the effort to achieve herd immunity in Shasta County.


Notice the difference between unvaccinated individuals and breakthrough infections.

According to a recent poll by NBC News, 69 percent of all adults in the United States claimed they’d been fully vaccinated verses 13 percent of adults who said “they won’t get vaccinated no matter what the circumstances.”

Four-fifths of urban residents said they’d been vaccinated; only 52 percent of rural residents made the same claim. A remarkable 88 percent of Democrats say they’ve received the jab, compared to 55 percent for their Republican cohorts.

Surprisingly, 59 percent of white evangelicals nationwide say they have been vaccinated—a number that’s surely lower in Shasta County.

Geographic location, political preference and religious affiliation have an influence on vaccine hesitancy. Party preference alone in Shasta County, where Republicans outnumber Democrats 50 percent to 23 percent (“no party preference” voters comprise 20 percent of the electorate), could account for a large chunk of the county’s vaccination deficit.

Geographically, Shasta County remains in what I call a media desert, where local news outlets operate at a bare minimum and right-wing talk radio dominates the landscape. The late Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck are the high priests of the COVID-19 death cult.

The irony that Shasta County HHSA has to pay large sums of public money to advertise its pandemic recommendations on stations diametrically opposed to those measures is no doubt lost on the right-wing conservative audience.

A period of COVID-19 cooperation

Back in the early days of the pandemic, it seemed like Shasta County’s citizens, businesses and institutions had struck a bargain. Most of us, the majority, masked up and kept our social distance.

When Bethel Church announced it was postponing all foreign and domestic travel for student missions and ministry in March 2020, I applauded the church’s decision while pointing out the false statements about COVID-19 made by head pastors Bill Johnson and Kris Vallotton early in the pandemic.

But such cooperation was not to last. Shasta County opted to educate the population about the benefits of mask-wearing and social distancing rather than enforce a mask mandate.

Although large indoor gatherings at schools and churches were prohibited, there was no real lockdown as in China, which completely eradicated COVID-19 by enforcing a no-holds-barred 4-month lockdown on the Wuhan Province and other infected regions.

China shows how it’s done.

Meanwhile, Shasta County, along with the rest of the United States, let its guard down barely a month into the pandemic. The percentage of people wearing masks in stores declined. Restaurants and bars, such as Dill’s Deli in Redding and Carlos Zapata’s Palomino Room in Red Bluff, opened their doors with impunity. By summertime, Shasta County experienced its first COVID-19 surge, albeit a small one.

Bethel Church officially embraced the fight against the novel coronavirus and continues to do so, stating on its website that “We believe that wisdom, modern medicine, and faith are meant to work together, and express the value for each in the pursuit of on-going health and healing. We continue to remain in close communication with Shasta County Public Health to be aware of their recommendations for Shasta County.”

That’s an amazing statement, coming from a church that claims any illness or disease can be cured via impartation and has its own “Dead Raising Team.” But while Johnson and Vallotton have mostly held their tongues during the pandemic, Bethel surrogates have been breaking ranks and joining the death cult.

Shasta County experienced its first COVID-19 surge in June 2020. In July, former Bethel worship leader and Bethel Music recording artist Sean Feucht held his first Jesus Christ Superspreader event at Sundial Bridge. He and his band would go on to infect the entire nation with bland music and coronavirus.

A second much larger COVID-19 surge in Shasta County began right after Zapata’s infamous Board of Supervisors speech in August. By October, Bethel Church was forced to admit 123 COVID-19 cases were tied to its operations. It promised to redouble its efforts to combat the virus.

Despite that, as reported by Chamberlain, Bethel leaders including Vallotton held a prohibited large family gathering at Shingletown later that month.

Then head pastor Bill Johnson’s wife, Beni Johnson, and their daughter Leah Mari Johnson Venezuela, filmed themselves on a trip to the north coast after they’d been turned away from a business that enforced mask usage. The video they posted on Instagram was a hideous display of privilege and ignorance.

Beni offered a tortured apology, but that didn’t stop her from endorsing candidates who support “medical freedom,” that is, the freedom to infect the population with COVID-19 at will, in the November 2020 elections.


Just add daughter

Judging by her Instagram page, Beni is somewhat of a New Age eccentric, obsessed with organic food and natural cures. But after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018, she turned to modern medicine, including a preemptive double mastectomy. Unfortunately, the cancer has recently returned and Beni is currently undergoing chemotherapy. She hasn’t been posting much on social media lately.

But daughter Leah appears to have picked up the slack during her mother’s convalescence and is well on the way to her own La La Land.

“The idea that healthy people are endangering others simply by breathing is the biggest scam ever,” states one of her many Instagram posts denying the existence of the pandemic to her more than 22,000 followers.


“This is what happens when you give away your freedoms little by little,” states a Leah post slamming vaccine mandates. “The censor ship (sic) that is happening to all of these real peoples (sic) stories is HORRIBLE,” she comments on a photo of a woman with a metal key stuck to her upper arm, allegedly because the vaccination makes people magnetic, a fairy tale popular with the death cult.

Leah recently reprised the trip to the coast she and her mother made last year. Humboldt County is currently enduring its own COVID-19 surge, and mask rules are back in effect. Leah posted a video of her sniveling, privileged response to this state of affairs on Instagram.

Anyone familiar with Red, White and Blueprint rhetoric, the lingo of the death cult, knows where all this mandatory mask-wearing and vax-jabbing is taking us: Communism!

Recently Leah has expressed concern about events in Australia, where police have been clashing with protestors opposed to the country’s lockdown strategy, which has been both more strict than U.S. policy and more successful in halting the spread of the virus.

It’s a concern shared by Feucht, Zapata, and Jon Knight. Red, White and Blueprint co-producer.

Knight, the owner of Northern Roots, seems like an odd fit for RW&B. In part, his business caters to cannabis cultivators, yet RW&B and the rest of the recall movement have criticized the three supervisors they’re attempting to recall for not cracking down on illegal grows in Shasta County. As a result, the supervisors have now cracked down on illegal grows, possibly including some of Knight’s customers.

Be careful what you wish for!

But I digress. Knight has proven himself a true Trumpeteer after participating in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., as reported by ANC’s Shawn Schwaller.

Knight posts stories about COVID-19 without comment, like a recent post featuring a Gateway Pundit article titled “Vax-entration Camps? Australian Government Builds ‘Mandatory Quarantine Facilities’, Officials Say Jab Is ‘Golden Ticket to Freedom.’”

The Gateway Pundit is one of many fake news sources in the death cult’s hermetically sealed media bubble. According to Forbes, the Gateway Pundit has made $1.1 million peddling false information about both COVID-19 vaccines and the results of the last presidential election.

While Knight just throws the disinformation out there without comment; Feucht and Zapata take the commentary to another level that might be called the death cult rant.

“What is happening in the new “Police State” of Australia is the result of 4 covid deaths per day out of a population of 25 million,” Feucht lies, bending the numbers to fit his narrative. “How can you say this is not about totalitarianism & control?”

Well, for starters, you could say that 93 percent of Australians oppose the protestors. You could then add that Australia has been far more successful at managing COVID-19 than the United States.

But never mind, because Zapata says it’s all about the guns, or the lack of guns, in Australia, which like many civilized countries enacted strict gun ownership laws after a series of mass shootings drenched the country in innocent blood.

“Australians brag that they don’t have mass shootings like we have,” Zapata replied to Feucht’s post. “I’m not downplaying the need to deal with massacres—[hint: he is]—but the reason Australians are getting abused by police is because their citizenry chose not to fight back.

“Say what you will, that shit will not fly here,” Zapata rambles on. “For one thing most American police officers will side with freedom. Secondly, the American have guns and will not tolerate this level of tyranny and abuse; at least some of us won’t.”

Classic Carlos Zapata, master of the botched veiled threat. It’s difficult to believe he’s currently on trial for battery and disturbing the peace, so loose are his lips.

The reason for Zapata’s popularity with a relatively small subset of Shasta County’s population is his willingness to speak what he and his adherents believe are unpopular truths. In reality, “most American police officers will side with freedom” is a statement rendered meaningless by the death cult’s constant reference to “our freedoms.”

The Supreme Court has spoken, more than 100 years ago: Mandated mask usage and vaccinations are not unconstitutional.

If the D variant or some other COVID-19 mutation began burning through the population like the Carr Fire ravaged Redding in 2018, we’d have no choice but try to stop it. If a strict lockdown was the only way to achieve that, the police will reject the death cult’s Kool-Aid and take the side of law and order, the side of life, and enforce the lockdown.

It’s all part of the social contract citizens of the Western world have enjoyed since the Enlightenment. That’s in stark contrast to recall death cult members like Vladislav Davidzon, who claim the social contract is Communism, and anyone who doesn’t eat and exercise properly deserves to die.

One thing that gives me cold comfort during these trying times, where avoiding COVID-19 and the region’s raging wildfires are competing threats, is the high probability that adherents of the death cult’s philosophy may enjoy an early demise.

That would certainly improve the odds of Western civilization’s survival.

R.V. Scheide

R.V. Scheide is an award-winning journalist who has covered news, politics, music, arts and culture in Northern California for more than 30 years. His work has appeared in the Tenderloin Times, Sacramento News & Review, Reno News & Review, Chico News & Review, North Bay Bohemian, San Jose Metro, SF Bay Guardian, SF Weekly, Alternet, Boston Phoenix, Creative Loafing and Counterpunch, among many other publications. His honors include winning the California Newspaper Publishers Association’s Freedom of Information Act and best columnist awards as well as best commentary from the Society of Professional Journalists, California chapter. Mr. Scheide welcomes your comments and story tips. Contact him at RVScheide@anewscafe.com..

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