Michael Todd, the leader of a Tulsa megachurch, sparked intense backlash after a viral clip showed him smearing spit on a person’s face during a sermon illustration on Sunday.
Todd, who leads Transformation Church, literally hawked a loogie into his hand and rubbed it on a man’s face. The point of the illustration, Todd claimed, was that “receiving a vision from God might get nasty.”
When Todd hawked the loogie into his hand — twice — the audience gasped and jeered. However, the reaction failed to deter Todd. In fact, he seemingly mocked the disgusting act.
“Many of you are so bothered, like literally some of y’all can’t even look … but this is what it will feel like,” Todd said, later adding, “The thing about the blind man, the thing about us, if we want to see clearly, we have to allow Jesus to do it.”
Todd was allegedly demonstrating his understanding of Mark 8:22-26, a story in which Jesus spit toward the eyes of a blind man, who later gained his sight.
However, the point of that story in the Gospel of Mark is not receiving nasty visions or getting outside your comfort zone, the preceding point of Todd’s sermon.
In actuality, Mark 8:22-10:52 is framed by two stories of Jesus healing blind men to further emphasize a key motif in Mark’s gospel: the marginalized (such as blind people) and outsiders are those who “see” and “hear,” whereas those who should see and hear the truth about Jesus, like his disciples, increasingly misunderstand Jesus and become confused about the implications of his identity.
What was the reaction?
Christians spoke out in force against the disgusting act. Not only was the act itself condemned, but critics observed that Todd’s combination of spirituality and the demeaning act was particularly problematic.
- “That Mike Todd video has so many layers of terribleness wrapped up in it, I don’t know even where to start. The audacity. The cult energy. The spiritual and theological abusiveness. The hocking and rubbing and spitting and deflecting. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Ain’t no way,” Christian author Danté Stewart said.
- “I don’t know who needs to hear this, but this is demonic and manipulative. Mike Todd even tried to manipulate the crowd into feeling bad over reacting to him dehumanizing a man live on stage. We’re watching abuse and humiliation to boost another’s ego and profile. Disgusting. This is big cult energy right here. I still honestly can’t believe this man had the audacity to do this. This is not of God at all. It’s hard to even try to describe how terrible this is but to say that this is really, just….satanic,” Christian podcaster Ameen Hudson said.
- “If your pastor rubs spit on your face (looking at you, Mike Todd), find a new pastor,” Rev. Dr. Chuck Currie said.
- “[T]hat mike todd video has been bothering me all day. it so disturbing, I can’t believe he did that. i’ve seen some things but that was so flagrant. cancel clout chasing corporate christianity cult charlatan’s charades,” Alex Medina said.
- “I ain’t never seen all sides of Christian Twitter unified on an issue like this. Not Mike Todd being so unhinged it’s bringing unity to the body,” one Christian noted.
- “The Mike Todd situation is exactly why we need more faithful Bible teaching churches, not entertainers who seek to go viral every Sunday. I’m all for the practicality of sermons being explained, but when is enough enough?” another person said.
Perhaps the only positive aspect of this story is that the person on the receiving end of Todd’s spit was his younger brother — though that does not make the demonstration any better.