Writing in The New York Times, author and journalist Katherine Stewart wrote a rather nasty and oblivious op-ed that essentially lays the blame for the COVID-19 pandemic at the feet of Evangelical Christians, whom she denounces as a bunch of anti-science dogmatists.
“Donald Trump rose to power with the determined assistance of a movement that denies science, bashes government and prioritized loyalty over professional expertise,” writes Stewart, the author of “The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism.” She continues, “In the current crisis, we are all reaping what that movement has sown.”
Even as leftists deny the basic science that an unborn child in the womb is a human being, promote the idea that men can be women, favor political correctness over sound border enforcement policy, and practice thoroughly unscientific wellness routines, Stewart characterizes the religious Right as the engine of anti-science nationalism in this country. Her proof: various quotes from pastors who dismissed the COVID-19 pandemic as a media invention:
On March 15, Guillermo Maldonado, who calls himself an “apostle” and hosted Mr. Trump earlier this year at a campaign event at his Miami megachurch, urged his congregants to show up for worship services in person. “Do you believe God would bring his people to his house to be contagious with the virus? Of course not,” he said.
Rodney Howard-Browne of The River at Tampa Bay Church in Florida mocked people concerned about the disease as “pansies” and insisted he would only shutter the doors to his packed church “when the rapture is taking place.” In a sermon that was live-streamed on Facebook, Tony Spell, a pastor in Louisiana, said, “We’re also going to pass out anointed handkerchiefs to people who may have a fear, who may have a sickness and we believe that when those anointed handkerchiefs go, that healing virtue is going to go on them as well.”
Fair enough, but one can easily cite such examples on the left, even from the so-called government “experts” that Stewart seems to regard so highly, such as this little gem of a tweet from New York Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot back in February, a little over a week after President Trump instituted his travel ban:
Today our city is celebrating the #LunarNewYear parade in Chinatown, a beautiful cultural tradition with a rich history in our city. I want to remind everyone to enjoy the parade and not change any plans due to misinformation spreading about #coronavirus. https://t.co/bwCnIb7j8H
— Commissioner Ashwin Vasan, MD, PhD (@NYCHealthCommr) February 9, 2020
Keeping her focus exclusively on Evangelical Christians, Stewart, of course, has nothing to say about how Mayor De Blasio visited Chinese restaurants in New York City to dispel fear about the coronavirus prior to the shutdown. Nor does she have anything to say about presidential candidate Joe Biden denouncing President Trump’s travel ban from China as “xenophobic“.
Stewart goes on to assert that Trump routinely flouts the medical experts in charge of the COVID-19 task force as a deliberate play to his base, such as when he expressed hope that the American economy could be opened by Easter.
“He could, of course, have said, ‘by mid-April.’ But Mr. Trump did not invoke Easter by accident, and many of his evangelical allies were pleased by his vision of ‘packed churches all over our country,'” argues Stewart.
After citing many more examples of Trump cabinet members supposedly favoring religion over science, Stewart’s article then blames Evangelical Christians for the lack of centralized response to the pandemic, seemingly unaware of the fact that this country has a federalist system.
“For decades, Christian nationalist leaders have lined up with the anti-government, anti-tax agenda not just as a matter of politics but also as a matter of theology,” she concludes. “When a strong centralized response is needed from the federal government, it doesn’t help to have an administration that has never believed in a federal government serving the public good. Ordinarily, the consequences of this kind of behavior don’t show up for some time. In the case of a pandemic, the consequences are too obvious to ignore.”
Stewart published this one day after the government’s leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said that private sector is dramatically helping the government produce needed test kits. “We have hundreds of thousands of tests that are out there now, mostly because we got the private sector involved, of the companies who know how to make it well, make large amounts,” he said.