NBC 5 Investigates has learned that a group that has drawn the ire of the federal government for selling what it called a “miracle” cure for COVID-19 has ties to North Texas and a small town 80 miles east of Dallas.
Orders by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Federal Trade Commission and a U.S. district judge to stop selling the potentially dangerous product have been met with resistance by the Genesis II Church of Health & Healing, which claims the distribution of its “Miracle Mineral Solution,” or “MMS,” is a holy sacrament that is not subject to a court ruling.
The FDA said when MMS is mixed with “activator drops,” also sold by the church, it turns “into a dangerous bleach which has caused serious and potentially life-threatening side effects.”
The Genesis II Church fired back, calling the FDA and the FTC “criminals” for seeking a court order telling them to stop selling MMS.
“What is being done is unlawful and those involved will be punishment (cq) by the real rule of law, which is always moral and God,” Mark Grenon, the leader of the church, said in an email to the government lawyers in the case.
“Dismiss this case today and all will be forgiven,” Grenon said.
Grenon could not be reached for comment despite repeated interview requests by NBC 5 Investigates.
As the church leader from Florida railed against the government, one of his apparent followers, Earl B. Hall, continued to quietly offer the chlorine dioxide mixture for sale from two websites called Atlantis Healing Center and Pure Living Store, both showing the same address in Sulphur Springs, east of Dallas.
Hall’s Facebook page said he is a “health minister of the Genesis II Church.” And his business website said his online store is the church's "recommended MMS sacraments provider."
The Pure Living Store website remained opened as of today. Atlantis Healing Center, a nearly identical-looking website that sold the same or similar products, closed down in early May with this message: “Sorry! This G2 Church sacrament provider is temporarily closed. The Genesis II Church is a free church under common law and is not under commercial law...”
NBC 5 Investigates repeatedly attempted to reach Hall for comment, including leaving phone messages, emails and sending requests through other means of social media.
He did not respond.
NBC 5 Investigates also went to the address shown on his two business websites— a home located off a country road, across from a cemetery, just outside Sulphur Springs.
Movement could be seen at the home, but no one came out to talk to us.
“It’s scary, it really is, to think about how someone might buy into this,” said John Sellers, mayor of Sulphur Springs.
Sellers said he was shocked to hear his town, which is already showing signs of a rebound from statewide closures caused by the pandemic, is also a place where a bogus virus cure is being peddled.
“It’d be great if there was a miracle cure out there that would solve all this. But I just don’t think you need to be hasty about doing something like that,” said Sulphur Springs Mayor John Sellers
In recent weeks Hall’s websites indicated that business was booming, strongly suggesting it was because of “this crisis.”
“Due to sudden increased sales, there is about a five-day delay in processing and shipping orders,” he said, adding: “This crisis will pass …the masses are awakening.”
Hall is not named in the FDA’s warning letter or the court order issued against Grenon.
Hall also does not say on his websites that his products can cure COVID-19.
Instead, there is a disclaimer that said they “are not medicines. They are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prescribe. None of our services, information or products are intended to replace the care or advice of a trained medical physician.”
It ends with: “You are solely responsible for how you use them.”
But Bishop Grenon’s claims of a miracle cure made headlines throughout the world after President Trump questioned whether injecting disinfectants into people could kill the virus – a thought that was widely denounced by medical experts.
Grenon gleefully tried to take credit for the president’s comments, saying on Facebook that he’d written to Trump to complain about the government’s treatment of his church after it claimed to have a cure for the coronavirus.
“Trump has got the MMS and all the info,” Grenon said, without any proof that the president, in fact, ever saw his letter.
It was in March that Grenon told his followers about the “miracle” cure for COVID-19.
In a video post on the church’s website, he said a mixture of MMS and water, taken four or five times the first day, “might even kick it out the first day … but depends on how hard, how long, you’ve had it. Depends if it’s in your lungs … ”
That’s dangerous advice, health experts said.
“It’s basically industrial-strength bleach,” said Dr. Steven Novella, a neurology professor at the Yale School of Medicine and editor of a website that calls out people making false health claims.
“There’s no reason to think that it has any benefit, it’s just telling people to drink poison in a desperate hope that it’s going to protect them,” Novella said.
In recent weeks a note on the Genesis II Church of Health & Healing website indicated that the church was in a time of prayer and had stopped shipping its MMS products.
But the Pure Living Store website, with the address in Sulphur Springs, remained open for business.
Standing in his town’s square, in front of the majestic Hopkins County courthouse, Sellers was not buying the church’s claim to have a cure for anything.
“These are trying, turbulent times,” he said, “and we just need to be careful.”