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Wisconsin pastor ordered to step down after preaching against COVID-19 vaccine

A Catholic reverend in La Crosse, Wis., said Sunday that he was asked to step down as leader of his parish by church officials due to his negative comments about the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Rev. James Altman said in a sermon posted to YouTube first reported by NBC News that "the left" was trying to "cancel" him after the Diocese of La Crosse contacted him Friday and asked him to resign.

“If the left whines like they do like a spoiled brat often enough, they succeed in canceling so many voices of truth,” he said during the sermon. “And now that they are whining like, if I may say it, the pansy babies that they are to cancel me.”

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Commenters on the YouTube post of Altman's sermon objected to the call, with one writing, "This is not going to go down well. The Faithful will rise in defense of their shepherd."

During the video, attendees of Altman's Sunday Mass could be heard objecting to the scenario laid out by Altman regarding the process that could occur as a result of his actions, yelling "No!" as he described how a "parish administrator" could be appointed by the Vatican while he appeals the demand for his resignation.

“I am no expert on canon law, but understand only that while we are contesting the bishop’s request ... he could in theory appoint a parish administrator whilst I remain a pastor without duties until the appeal goes through Rome, which can take up to a year or more,” he said during the sermon.

A Facebook page defending Altman included a number of comments about the request for him to step down as well as a number of false claims about the COVID-19 vaccine and posts saying there is "no science behind the false religion of covidism."

Altman has a history of divisive, antagonistic statements, and during the 2020 campaign season, he made headlines for claiming that Catholics could not be Democrats, according to NBC.

The church's New Orleans archdiocese also recently made headlines after urging followers not to receive the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine due to concerns about stem cell research and its involvement in the vaccine's development.