The Preacher and the Plague: a profile of the Maine pastor at the center of a notorious super spreader event

On August 7th, an obscure independent fundamentalist Baptists pastor presided over a wedding at a church he founded in the northern Maine town of East Millinocket, which was followed by a reception that did not comport to public health guidelines to contain the spread of COVID-19. Two months later, he’s known far and wide — by deed if not by name — featured in news coverage around the world after the wedding has been linked to nearly 200 cases and at least eight deaths in Maine and the pastor has remained defiant.

Who is Rev. Todd Bell, where did he come from, what are the characteristics of the movement he belongs to and which supports him and why do they lead him to continue hosting maskless singers in his Sanford church and attend events featuring maskless youth choirs in other states, as he did this past week? Is he accountable to anyone, secular or otherwise?

I explored Bell’s life, movement, and mission for this in-depth profile in today’s Maine Sunday Telegram. And thanks to the Press Herald‘s subscribers for making this kind of time consuming work possible for a state-level news organization.