California man who said he had ’99 problems but a vax ain’t one’ dies from COVID-19

A Hillsong church member contracted the virus after skepticism about its impact and the vaccine

Loading the player...

Tributes are pouring in on social media for Stephen Harmon, a 34-year-old congregant of Hillsong Church who died of COVID-19 after he posted jokes about the pandemic. 

Harmon, a graduate of Hillsong College, died Wednesday after a month-long bout with the coronavirus, The Daily Beast reports. Prior to his death, he shared several social media posts in which he appeared to not take the pandemic too seriously. 

Stephen Harmon thegrio,com
(Credit: social media/Harmon)

He made memes about trusting his faith over Dr. Anthony Fauci

“When you can’t trust the Bible cause it was written by man, but you trust the CDC/Fauci guidelines cause they were written by man,” he wrote. “Makes total sense.”

He also made light of vaccine compliance efforts in a tweet earlier this month.

“Biden’s door to door vaccine ‘surveyors’ really should be called JaCovid Witnesses. #keepmovingdork,” Harmon tweeted on July 8. In June he wrote,  “IF YOU’RE HAVING EMAIL PROBLEMS, I FEEL BAD FOR YOU, SON. I GOT 99 PROBLEMS BUT A VAX AIN’T ONE!” 

But just a day later, Harmon revealed to his followers that he had been diagnosed with COVID. His situation deteriorated a few days later when he revealed he was “on max oxygen” and “struggling to function.” 

His updates continued as he was diagnosed with bacterial pneumonia amid his COVID infection. Last week, Harmon noted that his health had declined and he was struggling to breathe. He said he was on “the max oxygen they can give me.”

“I’m overwhelmed by the kindness shown by so many of you over these last three weeks,” he said.

In his final tweet on July 21, Harman asked supporters to pray for him prior to being intubated. 

“Please pray y’all, they really want to intubate me and put me on a ventilator. 

“Even the slightest movements and my heart rate skyrockets and oxygen dependency increases,” he tweeted.

i’m choosing to going under intubation, i’ve fought this thing as hard as i can but unfortunately it’s reached a point of critical choice & as much as i hate having to do this i’d rather it be willingness than forced emergency procedure. don’t know when i’ll wake up, please pray,” he wrote.

Stephen Harmon
(Credit: Harmon/social media)

Brian Houston, president of the Hillsong megachurch, confirmed Harmon’s death on Instagram.

“Stephen was just a young man in his early 30’s. He was a graduate from Hillsong College and a vital part of our church in California. He was one of the most generous people I know and he had so much in front of him. He would always turn up to our grandkids soccer games and he will be missed by so many. RIP.”

Houston said in a follow-up post that Harmon “was one of the most generous people I know and he had so much in front of him.”

Harmon’s death prompted social media users to encourage others to take the COVID vaccine.

“RIP. Please get vaccinated everyone. This is too tragic. A young life lost way too soon,” one Instagram user wrote in a reply to Houston’s post.

Houston also shared news of Harmon’s death on Twitter, and while the message was met with mixed responses from pro-vax individuals, many slammed the pastor for not urging church members to take the jab.

“Heartbreaking enough to have vaccinations done at your scam church? Stop killing people pastor. Tell them to get vaccinated. Do something good with all that power you have instead of just taking their money for your lifestyle,” one user commented under Houston’s post.

Another wrote, “I’m sorry for your loss. God made brains and intellect; that became science and medicine, among other things. Taking vaccines is not an affront against faith. It is gratitude for all the glorious things that God has given us and faith in His messengers and works through others.”

A third added, “It’s heartbreaking news. And it will happen over and over and over again if people don’t get vaccinated. Please stand up for human life. Please don’t let Stephen Harmon’s death be in vain. Please get vaccinated against Covid-19.”

Another user noted: “Viruses don’t suffer fools gladly, and being arrogant and reckless on top of that seems to attract their attention. A cautionary tale for others who still think they’re thinking when they think like Stephen Harmon.”

Have you subscribed to theGrio’s “Dear Culture” podcast? Download our newest episodes now!

TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Roku. Download today!

Loading the player...