Feds go after self-described Florida church claiming to sell COVID-19 cure
A federal judge in Florida has ordered the leaders of a self-described church to cease selling a bleaching agent it falsely claims will treat and prevent COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
The organization, known as the Genesis II Church of Health and Healing, is based in Florida and markets its “Master Mineral Solution,” or MMS, as a treatment for preventing and treating countless diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, autism, brain cancer, HIV/AIDS, and multiple sclerosis. Prosecutors say that in late March, investigators discovered Genesis began marketing MMS as a cure for COVID-19.
Prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Florida filed a request with the U.S. District Court for a temporary restraining order against Genesis II Church and its leaders, arguing that the products are unsafe and that Genesis is a “secular organization,” not a church.
“In the midst of a viral pandemic and national emergency like nothing seen for more than a century, the above-captioned defendants are exploiting the crisis by marketing a powerful industrial bleach to consumers as a, which includes COVID-19, the novel disease that, in its four months of existence, has infected more than 2 million people worldwide and has claimed the lives of nearly 30,000 Americans,” the prosecutors explained in court documents. “When warned by authorities that their conduct was unlawful, Defendants responded with open defiance, explicitly avowing that they need not—and will ‘never’—obey the law.”
The entity, run by Mark Grenon, Joseph Grenon, Jordan Grenon, and Jonathan Grenon, sells so-called “sacramental kits” that include a two-ounce bottle of MMS, or sodium chlorite, and a two-ounce bottle of hydrochloric acid, marketed as an “activator.”
The Trump administration is cracking down on companies attempting to take advantage of consumers worried about the coronavirus, of which there have been more than 639,000 confirmed cases in the U.S. and nearly 31,000 deaths. The Federal Trade Commission and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have jointly issued warning letters to seven entities selling products that claim to treat the coronavirus, including teas, essential oils and colloidal silver.
“The Department of Justice will take swift action to protect consumers from illegal and potentially harmful products being offered to treat COVID-19,” said Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt in a statement. “We will continue to work closely alongside our partners at the Food and Drug Administration to quickly shut down those selling illegal products during this pandemic.”
The FDA also sent a warning letter to Genesis II Church last week over fraudulent claims about the product.
“We request that you take immediate action to cease the sale of such unapproved and unauthorized products for the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of COVID-19,” the FDA said in its letter to Bishop Mark Grenon, Joseph Grenon, Jordan Grenon and Jim Humble.
Grenon, who is one of the founders of Genesis and referred to as “Archbishop,” responded to the FDA in a letter two days later. “We can say cure, heal and treat as a Free Church,” he wrote. “Don’t need you [sic] approval or authorization for a Church Sacrament… There will be NO corrective actions on our part … You have no authority over us! … Never going to happen.”
Florida business records show that Jordan Grenon registered Genesis II Church in June 2015.
Humble, who says on his website that he retired in 2017 and is no longer involved with the group, purports to have created “Master Mineral Solution” by mixing a “simple water purification substance” with a food-grade acid. His website includes a step-by-step guide to making the product, which calls for consumers to mix sodium chlorite with fresh lemon or lime juice, or vinegar.
Genesis II Church also lists several testimonials that purport to come from people who claim they had coronavirus symptoms and felt better after taking “MMS.” The testimonials, however, do not include names or any identifying information.
In a video posted to the Genesis website on March 8, Grenon provided dosage instructions for MMS as a COVID-19 treatment.
“Every week I am putting in the G2Sacramental dosing for Coronavirus,” he explained. “Six drops MMS activated four ounces of water every two hours four or five times the first day, it should, it might even kick it out the first day, but depends on how long you’ve had it, if it’s in your lungs, do it the second day again, then I’d go to three drops eight hours a day for three or four days, then just to keep going, kick it out of you. Small children, we can cut everything in half, three drops every two hours versus a couple days, three hours then a drop really, not three.”
The FDA began warning consumers about the hazards of “Miracle Mineral Solution” products in 2010, which are also marketed as Miracle Mineral Supplement, MMS, Chlorine Dioxide Protocol or Water Purification Solution, it said. Distributors claim the solutions, when mixed with citric acid, can be used to treat a wide array of illnesses, including cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and the flu. But the FDA said it does not know of any research to support these allegations.
Instead, consumers of the “MMS” are drinking a powerful bleaching agent, the FDA has warned. Ingesting the solution, the agency said, can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Read the complaint here: