Stabbed Sydney priest is a viral lockdown and Covid vaccine sceptic

Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel
Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel described lockdown restrictions as 'mass slavery' - Facebook

The Christian Orthodox bishop who was stabbed in Sydney’s second knife attack in three days is a fire and brimstone preacher known for his anti-LGBTQ views and scepticism over Covid vaccines.

Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel leads the Christ the Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley in Sydney’s western suburbs.

He is the leader of an ultra-conservative branch of the Assyrian Orthodox faith who has a big presence on social media, with 17,000 followers on Facebook and 200,000 subscribers on YouTube. Videos he has posted to TikTok have been viewed millions of times.

He gained a reputation during Australia’s Covid lockdown for his sceptical views on vaccines.

In July 2021, at the height of the pandemic, he described lockdown restrictions as “mass slavery”.

He claimed that the risks posed by Covid-19 had been “exaggerated” and that vaccines were unnecessary because people’s natural immune systems would fight the virus.

He said the stress caused by lockdowns and vaccine roll-outs were causing more harm than the virus itself, dismissing the advice released by the government, scientists and medical professionals.

Telling Australians to get vaccinated and to stay at home amounted to “absolute mass slavery”, the bishop claimed.

“I believe, even though I am not in the medical field and I am not an expert, that stress is the number one killer of the immune system,” he said during one sermon.

“The vaccine supposedly is to work to strengthen the immune system yet on the other hand we have made people go through so much stress and anxiety that it has destroyed it. Then what is the use of this vaccine?”

The motive for the knife attack is unknown and there is no suggestion at this stage that it had anything to do with the bishop’s views on lockdowns or vaccines.

Nor is there a suggestion that it was linked to the horrific knife attack carried out by 40-year-old Joel Cauchi at the Westfield shopping centre in Bondi Junction in Sydney on Saturday. Cauchi was shot dead by a police officer after stabbing to death six people and wounding a dozen others, including a baby girl.