The religious right is anti-science. The religious right supports Donald Trump, and he welcomes their support. Therefore, America is doing much worse in our fight with the coronavirus than we could be. If Trump had not chosen to ally himself with those anti-science Bible-thumpers, the whole world would be better off. So posits an op-ed by Katherine Stewart in the New York Times (March 27).
Stewart's article is entitled, "The Religious Right's Hostility to Science Is Crippling Our Coronavirus Response," and the subtitle is "Trump's response to the pandemic has been haunted by the science denialism of his ultraconservative religious allies."
Stewart opines, "Donald Trump rose to power with the determined assistance of a movement that denies science, bashes government and prioritized loyalty over professional expertise. In the current crisis, we are all reaping what that movement has sown."
I noticed one response to this NYT op-ed, where the author asked sarcastically, "[It must be] all those evangelical Christians running Communist China and lying to the global community, right?" And no one ever seems to notice the irony of those who claim Donald Trump is some sort of dictator yet want the federal government to have unlimited power in responding.
I will grant one point to Sullivan: It does not help that there are reports of a few mega-churches in the country that are defying the orders not to meet together in large groups lest we infect one another. But those irresponsible ministers are the exception, not the rule. Shame on those pastors who are disobeying the government's common-sense orders during the pandemic. They are putting other people's lives at risk.
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But the vast majority of churches in the country are using the tools available to us to "meet" and "hold service" in virtual ways, through the internet.
What is the basis of Stewart's claim that evangelicals are anti-science? In previous articles, I have demonstrated the indispensable role Christianity played in the founding of modern science.
It seems that her biggest argument that Christians are supposedly anti-science has to do with climate change. Many Christians, and I am one of them, do not buy into the notion of man-made, catastrophic global warming. Sullivan writes, "Today, the hard core of climate deniers is concentrated among people who identify as religiously conservative Republicans."
And the problem is? "Climate change" is the left's new religion. But it is fraught with all sorts of problems. Climategate, which has been so conveniently forgotten, provided ample evidence that some global-warming alarmists were so convinced by their theory that they ignored evidence that was contrary to it – and, worse, they even fudged the raw data.
If Christians are accused of being anti-science because we don't buy politicized science, then so be it.
Competitive Enterprise Institute compiled a number of different predictions by the expert scientists in the last few decades. They called this article: "Wrong Again: 50 Years of Failed Eco-pocalyptic Predictions."
For example, Al Gore once predicted that the polar ice cap may disappear by the summer of 2014. It's still there. Despite one failed prophecy after the next, no one ever seems to hold these people accountable.
When I saw this blame-the-Christians article in the Times, I turned to Volume II of Philip Schaff of Yale's "History of the Christian Church," written around the turn of the 20th century.
The great historian describes the unwarranted suspicion and hostility toward Christianity on the part of the Caesars and the Roman people around A.D. 200.
Schaff writes: "The common people also, with their polytheistic ideas, abhorred the believers in the one God as atheists and enemies of the gods. They readily gave credit to the slanderous rumors of all sorts of abominations, even incest and cannibalism, practiced by the Christians at their religious assemblies and love-feasts, and regarded the frequent public calamities of that age as punishments justly inflicted by the angry gods for the disregard of their worship. In North Africa arose the proverb: 'If God does not send rain, lay it to the Christians.' At every inundation, or drought, or famine, or pestilence, the fanatical populace cried, 'Away with the atheists! To the lions with the Christians!'" (p. 43)
The early Christians were called "atheists" because they did not believe in the pantheon of Roman gods. Whatever bad happened – including "pestilence" (and the coronavirus is a pestilence) – in their ignorance they scapegoated Christians.
President Trump has been working very hard to fight this pandemic and to cause private and public entities to partner together to fight the common enemy. If he welcomes divine help as well, what is wrong with that? So have virtually all our presidents.
Scapegoating the Christians because of this virus is an old and failed policy. Too bad the "newspaper of record" would resort to this old tactic.