This year we have seen a number of conservative figures, including the late evangelical leaders Marcus Lamb and Jimmy DeYoung, who have succumbed to Covid-19 after downplaying the risks of the disease or making derogatory remarks about vaccines. What is such opposition if not an arrogant attempt to test God, no less problematic, say, than to descend from a great height and rely on being caught by angels?
A personal decision not to take Covid-19 seriously is bad enough. Worse yet, it’s a staff decision to fire those who do.
A personal decision not to take Covid-19 seriously is bad enough. Worse yet, it’s a staff decision to fire those who do. When evangelical Christian radio host Dave Ramsey fired video editor Brad Amos on July 31, Amos responded with a lawsuit against Ramsey Solutions which claims Ramsey believed taking steps to avoid infection showed “weakness. of spirit “. A spokesperson for the company told McClatchy News that Amos was “fired at a meeting to discuss his poor performance with his executives, where he insulted his top executive. He was not fired for his religious beliefs or the way he wanted to deal with COVID. “
Weeks later, the National Religious Broadcasters fired spokesman Daniel Darling after he said in an editorial in USA Today and on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that getting the vaccine was his way of obeying the command to love. his neighbor as himself. The NRB has said that when it comes to vaccines, it is “neutral”.
Requests for religious exemptions from Covid-19 vaccination warrants may convince Americans that being religious in America means being recklessly indifferent to the dangers of Covid. But a December poll from the Public Religion Research Institute finds that at least 60% of American Jews, Protestant Hispanics, Hispanic Catholics, White Catholics, Latter-day Saints and “other Christians” believe “there is no reason. religious valid to refuse a vaccine. . The PRRI also finds that at least 50 percent of black Protestants, other Protestants of color, white mainline Protestants, and “other non-Christian religious Americans” share this view.
That leaves white evangelicals to themselves as the only religious group in the country in which less than half – in this case, 41% – agree that there is no valid religious reason for such a refusal.
Additionally, according to the PRRI survey, when asked if too many people use religion as an excuse to avoid vaccination, “two-thirds or more of American Jews (72%), Latter-day Saints (68 %), Americans (67%) and other religious non-Christian Americans (67%) agree, as do about six in ten Hispanic Catholics (63%), other Christians (62%), black Protestants ( 62%), majority White Protestants (59%), White Catholics (59%) and Hispanic Protestants (58%), and Hispanic Protestants (58%).
The only religious groups who disagreed that religion is being falsely turned into an anti-vaccination excuse were White Evangelical Protestants and other Protestants of color.
Even if one stipulates the sincerity of conservative Christians who believe that Christianity forbids them to be vaccinated and the sincerity of those who fear the power of a government which can impose vaccinations, this does not explain the dismissal of Amos, as he claims in his lawsuit, asking to work from home and for covering up and keeping his distance at the office. It also doesn’t explain why Darling got fired for asking for the vaccination and some kind of good neighborliness. To make sense of these layoffs, we must consider the theologically fragile belief that any concern about illness proves a lack of faith, a belief that only makes sense to those who believe that religious devotion and illness do not. cannot coexist.
The prosperity gospel that has convinced so many that believing brings wealth has also convinced them that believing maintains health.
As Kate Bowler, associate professor at Duke Divinity School, puts it in “Everything Happens For a Reason (And Other Lies I’ve Loved),” the prosperity gospel that has convinced so many Americans that believing brings wealth also convinced them that believing maintains health. She writes: “In a spiritual world in which healing is a divine right … a suffering believer is an enigma to be solved. Add to this the argument that Kristin Kobes Du Mez, professor of history at Calvin University, advances in “Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation”, that white evangelicals rejected the sweetness and the neighborhood in favor of “tough and aggressive militant white masculinity. Does Donald Trump Jr. consider himself evangelical? That’s okay. He was expressing the heresies described by Du Mez when he told the ‘America Fest Tuesday: “We turned the other cheek and I understand kind of a bible reference, I understand the mentality, but it didn’t get us anything, okay?”
It’s not hard to see why the evangelical broadcasters named above chose not to protect themselves with a vaccine or why, according to Amos, Ramsey called him weak. But what a wasted martyrdom. Unlike the original Saints, who died horrific deaths at the hands of a hostile empire, they died clenching their fists against a government trying to prevent their horrific deaths.
The PRRI survey reveals that we are at the point where only 1% of people who describe themselves as refusing vaccination (and only 11% who say they are reluctant to be vaccinated) say they would be more likely to consider vaccination. vaccination if a religious leader encouraged them to do so.
I asked Du Mez this year if there is an evangelical leader who could persuade believers to take the virus seriously. She said no leader can do it alone; it would have to be a collective (if not unanimous) effort, lest these believers find another leader whose message suits them better. At this point in the spring, when Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham and president of evangelical humanitarian organization Samaritan’s Purse, promoted vaccines as “pro-life,” he was castigated by other evangelicals who called them “evil”.
Last week, former President Donald Trump was about as forceful as he ever was on vaccines, defending their effectiveness to skeptical conservatives Bill O’Reilly and Candace Owens. As the de facto leader of white evangelicals, Trump is a strong advocate. It might be hard to remember, but there were evangelical leaders and publications who spoke out against Trump’s candidacy in 2016. Du Mez said it was the year that many evangelical pastors realized that they had less influence over their herds than they thought, much less than Fox News and Trump. That is why we should all pray that his vaccine promotion bears fruit. We need someone who has enough influence over those who ignore the seriousness of Covid to pull them off the cliff.