“Oh my God my God, why have you forsaken me?”
The Psalmist’s cry above has been my own cry, as of late. Not in response to this terrible pandemic, mind you, but in response to the many, many so-called “Christian” responses to the pandemic.
Watching the My Pillow CEO/Inventor/Mad Man go off on his rantprayer (I made that word up just for this blogpost) the other day during the White House Covid-19 update about put me over the edge, though.
It’s like, Christians: why can’t you just not be crazy for a little while?! Please?!
Between Falwell inviting Liberty students to head back to school early, ensuring a plague-like outbreak in Virginia, to the number of pastors continuing to hold church services despite the shelter-in-place orders, infecting hundreds…it’s not like we needed the bad publicity, right?!
I mean, the most anti-science, “Jesus would be my boyfriend if that wasn’t gay” member of the Trump administration (just look at how he didn’t handle the HIV outbreak in Indiana) was put in charge of the most sciency-thing the country (and the world) has faced since 1918…this is all a disaster already, without Christians making it worse.
Downplaying the pandemic, ignoring the scientists, delaying a national response…it couldn’t get worse, right?
Then someone in power said, “Hold my beer,” because, for some reason, the My Pillow CEO gets a primetime spot behind the presidential podium to claim that America has turned its back on God, casting some theological shadows upon not only the presidency, but the pandemic.
Look, I’m glad that his company is making masks at a time when we really need private industry to step up and help the public good. I’m glad he’s doing that, and I wish more would do that.
But him helping the war-on-Corona effort doesn’t give him license to help the war-on-facts effort that the Religious Right has been fighting since the early ’80’s.
I’m already getting emails and messages from people asking me, in all honesty, whether or not this pandemic is somehow God’s retribution on humanity. They claim it’s God’s way of “bringing the family back together” as we’re all forced to shelter-in-place, a notion that totally forgets how many families will be devastated by loss of income, or bruised by abusive relationships that go under the radar in these quarantine days.
How tone-deaf can you get?
No, not tone-deaf, idiotic.
The idea that God wreaks pandemics across the world to teach humanity a lesson is plain stupid. Not only is it theologically abusive, it’s just nonsensical.
If God unleashes pandemics on the world to teach it a lesson, God’s just super ineffective…which, if you claim God as sovereign and all-powerful, doesn’t really make any sense, right?
Apparently the Spanish Flu didn’t accomplish the Almighty’s goal back in 1918, huh? I mean, the same sort of thing happened then…but I guess it didn’t work.
And the Black Plague didn’t take, either, I guess. Apparently God has to have another go at it…hopefully this time it’ll stick so we won’t all have to die anymore for God to make God’s point, by this logic.
See, here’s the thing: if you read the scriptures, God’s point is exactly the opposite of this line of thinking. According to the Jesus story, God stands in such solidarity with humanity that God is willing to die for humanity, not the other way around.
And spare me the Biblical proof-texting from the Hebrew scriptures about plagues and wars and death. This blogpost does not have enough bandwidth to give an in-depth Biblical deep-dive into the hows and whys of particular stories and what they mean in context.
Suffice it to say: there is no, absolutely no, legitimate example to point to from scripture that would suggest that the God seen in Jesus would do anything remotely like this, and anyone who tries to say there is hasn’t done their homework and isn’t worth listening to.
Bottom line: this pandemic is not God’s retribution on humanity for anything. That’s idiotic to suggest. Let’s cut out all the memes and rants and posts that suggest it is, because they’re not helping the situation. They’re certainly not converting anyone to the faith, and, if I may be so bold, they’re making Christians look like anti-intellectual miscreants.
People are dying. To suggest that they’re dying because God wants to teach the world a lesson makes a terrible situation existentially more painful.
Just stop it.