Excerpts from an article at Bloomberg:
At the break of dawn [on] July 8, 2020, as police helicopters circled overhead, a SWAT team appeared in armored vehicles and raided the headquarters of the Genesis II Church of Health and Healing in Bradenton, Fla...For more than a decade, the Grenons had enriched themselves by selling Miracle Mineral Solution, or MMS, a “sacramental” drink that promised to cure ills such as Alzheimer’s and cancer but that scientific consensus holds to be potentially lethal and have no medical value whatsoever. Thousands of people had bought it to bathe in, spray on, or ingest.Inside a steel warehouse on the church’s property, a hazmat crew seized more than 50 gallons of hydrochloric acid and 8,300 pounds of sodium chlorite, which could be combined to make chlorine dioxide, the main ingredient in MMS. FDA investigators affixed stickers reading “1496” to the blue plastic barrels of sodium chlorite, indicating its classification as a chemical so corrosive it can burn a hole through the throat, perforate the stomach, and cause blindness. Chlorine dioxide commonly serves as an industrial bleaching agent, with applications that include stripping textiles of color and turning wood pulp into paper. When ingested, it can cause irreparable damage to the respiratory tract and other critical organs. In 2019 the FDA warned Americans against the use of MMS, noting that there had been more than 16,000 cases of chlorine dioxide poisoning in the U.S. in the previous five years, including 2,500 cases involving children under 12.Before the pandemic, the Grenons had earned about $30,000 a month selling MMS to buyers who were sometimes sick or dying, on the false premise that chlorine dioxide could eradicate 95% of known diseases. After the coronavirus outbreak, Mark claimed chlorine dioxide could cure Covid-19, and sales tripled almost overnight, further boosted when then-President Donald Trump speculated absurdly that injected disinfectants might kill the virus...“I see disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute,” Trump said during an April 23 briefing at the White House. “Is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets in the lungs, and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it’d be interesting to check that.”It remains unclear how Trump arrived at the conclusion that injecting disinfectant could offer any medical benefit. Testimonials for bleach-based cures were, to be sure, circulating online among QAnon conspiracy theorists and in vaccine-skeptic circles. But it’s conceivable that Genesis II played a role; certainly, its archbishop took credit. Less than a week before Trump spoke, Grenon had said on his weekly webcast that he’d written to the president about his legal problems, describing MMS as “a wonderful detox that can kill 99% of the pathogens in the body” and “rid the body of Covid-19.” After Trump’s endorsement Grenon claimed, without evidence, that the president had received bleach from more than two dozen church supporters and that Genesis II had a channel to him through a Trump family member...Yet Grenon’s prophecy that MMS will endure could still prove prescient. The church has recently gained a significant following in some South American countries, according to local reports. Hundreds of buyers have been lining up outside makeshift MMS distribution centers in poor rural communities as the pace of Covid vaccination falls behind that of major cities. The Bolivian health ministry reported 10 chlorine dioxide poisonings stemming from MMS last year, and this February, Argentina opened a criminal investigation targeting a local Genesis II leader following the deaths of a 50-year-old man and a 5-year-old boy who’d consumed the bleaching agent.The official website of the Genesis II Church of Health and Healing is still online, having migrated to Chilean servers after a U.S. shutdown. Active chapters are listed for Argentina, Australia, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ghana, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the U.K., the U.S., and Uruguay. Grenon-trained bishops are standing by to administer the sacrament, in return for a $20 donation.
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