(48) SE6: COVID-19 and the Conservative Christian Response

I saw a lot of disappointing responses from my community (Conservative Evangelicals) in regard to COVID-19. This episode covers my frustration with my community's skewing of truth based on our political filter. Make sure to check out the image gallery of examples.

*Please note that I am not particularly critiquing the actions taken by government or individuals, provided their actions are based on honest and educated assessments of data. Isolating everyone vs. isolating only a certain population (e.g. those over 60, those with preexisting conditions, etc) is a judgment call. We don't have all the data necessary to make perfect decisions, so we're experimenting and learning as we go. At what point does shutting down the economy do more harm than good, particularly in countries where they live day to day, hand to mouth? I don't know, and I don't want to judge anyone for difficult decisions.

However, what I do intend to point out in this episode is that my group has erred (as a broad generalization, of course) in our discernment. Many in my group have politicized the virus to the point that we were unable to assess the gravity of the situation, we were unable to effectively love in our actions, and we were unable to wisely discern common sense judgment and action in the situation. While I am not judging for making the wrong decisions given limited information, I am judging our political idolatry and our dismissal of truths which don't fit our desired narrative. 

I read a great article which summarizes one of the main issues I have with my conservative Evangelical group. I'll put what I believe to be a very pertinent quote from the article below: The Religious Right’s Hostility to Science Is Crippling Our Coronavirus Response: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/27/opinion/coronavirus-trump-evangelicals.html

Religious nationalism has brought to American politics the conviction that our political differences are a battle between absolute evil and absolute good. When you’re engaged in a struggle between the “party of life” and the “party of death,” as some religious nationalists now frame our political divisions, you don’t need to worry about crafting careful policy based on expert opinion and analysis. Only a heroic leader, free from the scruples of political correctness, can save the righteous from the damned. Fealty to the cause is everything; fidelity to the facts means nothing. Perhaps this is why many Christian nationalist leaders greeted the news of the coronavirus as an insult to their chosen leader.

A good summary of what Evangelical dispensationalism has helped produce, especially in the U.S. (by a respected professor via Facebook): 

I was raised and trained in a dispensational reading of the Bible, which is a highly-complex and chart-laden method for relegating the Bible’s relevance to every other era of human history except this one.

Mark Noll once quipped that it has produced a culture that focuses on the earth’s first six days and the earth’s future days, but doesn’t want to care for the earth these days.

It has also produced a culture intensely focused on children inside wombs, but will support a person who cancels programs to feed hungry children outside of them.

It has produced a culture that takes pilgrimages to a theme park in Kentucky that claims to be a museum of God’s creation but only has man-made things in it. It is somehow a building that contains an idea.

It has produced a culture of well-intentioned people who genuinely want to study the Bible, but only to think its thoughts, not to do what it says.

I know this culture well, and I love the people in it, so I talk about the culture and its assumptions and its ways and how it holds them in its grip, and the counter-intuitive way they can be free.

That culture has taught its people defense mechanisms to hide its tentacles and its binding shackles.

I hear these all the time when I talk about the sorts of things Jesus said to do. When I do it speaks back to me, “you’re just a socialist.” “That’s the social gospel.” “You’re a liberal.” “You sound like a Democrat.”

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