When discussing a plateau in new covid-19 cases across New York, state Governor Andrew Cuomo insisted that people, not God, should not get the credit.
Speaking at his Monday press conference, Cuomo said: "The number is down because we brought the number down. God did not do that. Faith did not do that. Destiny did not do that,” the governor declared. “A lot of pain and suffering did that." He added that the total number of hospitalizations in New York had started to level out. "The curve continues to flatten," he noted. "It appears we have a plateau."
In a CNN interview the next day, the governor reiterated his point about faith not playing a part in the battle against the virus:
"Our behavior has stopped the spread of the virus,” he said. ”God did not stop the spread of the virus. And what we do, how we act, will dictate how that virus spreads.”
Despite delivering good news to a state that has been ravaged by the disease, his rather seething remarks about God drew ire from various Christian leaders.
"We always must be careful what we take credit for," posted evangelist Franklin Graham, whose humanitarian relief organisation Samaritan's Purse has set up a temporary field hospital in New York City's Central Park.
Graham added: “Yes, we must be cautious and combat the spread, but make no mistake - God can help us. His power is as infinite as His love.
"We continue to see answered prayer in our field hospital. Gov. Cuomo, I urge you - don’t dismiss the power of prayer and the ability of God to work in this crisis and in the ones we will face in the future. He is our hope, and we continue to pray for His mercy on our nation."
"Bold statement from Gov. Cuomo..with millions praying, millions serving, and millions giving, motivated by their faith," added former NFL tight end and committed Christian, Benjamin Watson on Twitter. "In a time of such uncertainty a wise, humble and prudent man would at least hedge their bet and offer God a little bit of credit."
New York currently has over 200,000 confirmed cases, with more than 16,000 deaths.