In brief

  • At least 20 cell towers in the UK were burned after a conspiracy theory linking the coronavirus pandemic to 5G technology was spread around the country.
  • Preacher Jonathon James from Luton, England is reportedly behind the baseless claims.
  • The evangelical pastor previously tried to convince Zimbabweans to use cryptocurrency in their economy, The Guardian reports.

The man behind the 5G coronavirus conspiracy theory is a crypto-loving evangelical pastor, a major UK national newspaper has revealed. 

According to a Friday report by The Guardian, preacher Jonathon James is one of those responsible for spreading the conspiracy theory that 5G cell phone towers cause coronavirus. The attack of at least 20 5G cell towers and masts in the UK followed viral posts from James and other conspiracy theorists. 

The preacher, from the town of Luton, England, made bizarre and baseless claims that the coronavirus pandemic is a cover for governments to install 5G mobile phone masts and for Bill Gates to track the world’s population, according to The Guardian

In a 38-minute video on YouTube, James claimed it was “unequivocally proven that the radio frequencies” were killing people—and not COVID-19. It was spread around the UK and gullible people in Liverpool and the West Midlands later set 5G cell towers on fire. 

The recording has since been deleted from YouTube but is still widely circulating on WhatsApp, The Guardian reported. 

James, who preaches in a number of churches in the southern UK county of Bedfordshire, had previously advised a Zimbabwean opposition party to use cryptocurrency in order to save the economy, the newspaper added. 

In 2018, he reportedly told the party that a currency pegged to mineral reserves would be the best way to tackle inflation. He also claims to have advised Bangladesh on cryptocurrencies, The Guardian’s report said. 

James, who formerly worked for telecommunications giant Vodafone, reportedly told The Guardian that he was “absolutely shocked” the message went viral and that it was only intended to be for a “small community.” The newspaper added that he said he “wasn’t trying to vilify, incriminate or implicate any mobile network operator.” 

Other conspiracy theories linking COVID-19 to 5G technology have since been spread, but scientists labeled them “complete rubbish”. Britain’s NHS England Medical Director Stephen Powis called them "the worst kind of fake news.”

Whether or not it is God’s plan for James to advise the world’s governments on crypto, one thing is for sure: he shouldn’t be advising them on how to manage the coronavirus crisis.