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The religious fervor surrounding COVID-19
For the lockdown fanatics, it is not about a virus. It is about parading their personal righteousness, controlling others and damning those who question pandemic mitigation policy.
When Knox County, Tennessee Mayor (and former professional wrestler) Glenn Jacobs tweeted this earlier this month, people became enraged:
In 2020, government officials in parts of the country intimidated, harrassed, and, in some cases, barred Christians from going to church and celebrating the most important day of our faith as congregations. Never forget that.
The reaction was harsh:
"We were being asked to do what is one of only two acts that Christ commands us to do - love our neighbor. And I will never forget how many failed at that and instead chose selfishness."
"I promise to never forget Christians choosing their individuality and perceived rights over loving and caring for their neighbors during the early days of a pandemic."
"Real churches had online services to help their parishioners survive. Fake churches opened to lure people to their deaths."
"Because unlike Christians, others were trying to actually show they cared for each other by doing the right thing."
The lockdowns were in effect three years ago. In the three years since then, there has been little conclusive evidence that closing businesses and putting millions of people out of work did much to slow the spread of the virus. Even some prominent experts who supported lockdowns now argue it was bad policy.
Meanwhile, we know the damage the lockdowns did: They caused immense economic damage and drove up the federal budget deficit to unprecedented levels. Denying people in-person human contact drove up rates of depression. Video chat can help, but it is a poor substitute for in-person contact. Deaths of despair - drug overdoses, alcoholism and suicide - spiked during 2020 and 2021. Do the deaths of those people not matter? Are we concerned with saving lives, or are we actually interested in following pagan rituals to "save" us from a virus with a 99.98% survival rate?
But at this point, loudly advocating for lockdowns and damning those who disagree as heretics or even murderers is not about a virus. This is about parading your virtue and civic religion in front of others, and especially about condemning those who question strict limits on liberty. If you do not agree, the "god" known as COVID-19 will punish you. If you became infected with a highly contagious respiratory virus, then you must have "sinned" in some way. The pagan cult of COVID-19 stands in direct opposition to Christianity.
Much of the hate directed at Christians who chafed at government closing churches completely misses the point. This was not about individuality, or liberty, but about honoring God. Those who throw Matthew 6:5-6 at Christians completely miss the point: Public prayer is very prominent in the New Testament. This also shows why we have to take all of Scripture into account when considering God's will, and why we cannot base our doctrine on cherry-picked verses. Of course, discernment is important too. The people damning Christians with that verse are not really interested in obeying Scripture, but in condemning those who dare disagree with them.
I genuinely believe that many of the policies put in place in 2020 were implemented in good faith. We had a new virus that we had never seen before, people were getting sick and dying at an alarming rate, and we knew very little about how dangerous the novel coronavirus was. We have learned a lot in the three years since then. Sadly, because of the extremism, dishonesty and vindictiveness of many of the people pushing for strict pandemic-mitigation policies, large swaths of the population has lost trust in the public health establishment and the civil magistrate. The authorities only have themselves to blame for that.
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