Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Again, Belligerent Response of Many "Pro-Life" US Christians to Pandemic Restrictions Illustrates Serious Dangers of "Pro-Life" Christanity to the Rest of Us

At the risk of sounding like a broken record: these video documents need to be preserved for the record, so that if there is a future beyond this pandemic and people try to understand why so many Americans died in the pandemic, what brought them to this point, why they were so grossly underprepared for a cataclysmic event about which they had ample warning, they will have this documentation.

Quite specifically: these videos document the truly lethal role that "pro-life" Christianity has played in American culture for some years now, a role definitively unmasked by the response of sectors of American Christianity to the pandemic. It was "pro-life" white Christianity that placed the man now "leading" the American response to the pandemic in the White House.

The belligerence.  
The cavalier lack of concern about human life.  
The refusal to entertain discussions of how their behavior as people of faith affects all the rest of us. 
The claim to special rights under the rubric of religious freedom, including the right to put the public at large at risk due to the special religious beliefs of a minority of people. 
The ridiculing of science, medical expertise, government officials.

This could not be more grossly anti-communitarian, anti-social, and yet it's a deeply embedded strain of American culture among the some half of Americans who report that Mr. Trump is doing a bang-up job at managing the pandemic on the very same day that a major US newspaper says, rightly, that the man in the White House has blood on his hands.

Last week, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, who oversees the area of Texas that includes Houston, issued an order requiring "all individuals currently living within Harris County ... to stay at their place of residence except for Essential Activities" (in Texas, the title "county judge" refers to the chief executive of a county government). 
Like many similar orders handed down by state and local officials throughout the United States, which are intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, Hidalgo's order closes most businesses within the county and shuts down most places where people gather in large groups. Although it allows faith leaders to "minister and counsel in individual settings, so long as social distance protocols are followed," it requires worship services to "be provided by video and teleconference." 
That restriction on in-person worship services has sparked a lawsuit, filed by three Texas pastors and Steven Hotze, a medical doctor and anti-LGBT Republican activist whose political action committee was labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. These four men ask the Texas Supreme Court to strike down Hidalgo’s order, claiming, among other things, that it violates the "religious liberty" of pastors who wish to gather their parishioners together during a pandemic.

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