On Friday, the New York Times published an op-ed placing a hefty amount of blame on the “religious right” for President Trump’s response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
In the editorial, journalist and author Katherine Stewart argues that Trump’s “anti-science” evangelical voter base is influencing him too heavily, causing him to “trust his gut over the experts” on issues like vaccines or climate change.
The op-ed was originally titled “The Road to Coronavirus Hell Was Paved by Evangelicals” but has since been toned down to “The Religious Right’s Hostility to Science Is Crippling Our Coronavirus Response.”
It reads, in part:
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.
At least since the 19th century, when the proslavery theologian Robert Lewis Dabney attacked the physical sciences as “theories of unbelief,” hostility to science has characterized the more extreme forms of religious nationalism in the United States.
Today, the hard core of climate deniers is concentrated among people who identify as religiously conservative Republicans. And some leaders of the Christian nationalist movement, like those allied with the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, which has denounced environmental science as a “Cult of the Green Dragon,” cast environmentalism as an alternative — and false — theology.
This denial of science and critical thinking among religious ultraconservatives now haunts the American response to the coronavirus crisis.
Stewart also cites several pro-Trump pastors who refused to cancel church services amid social distancing guidelines.
“By all accounts, President Trump’s tendency to trust his gut over the experts on issues like vaccines and climate change does not come from any deep-seated religious conviction,” Stewart continues. “But he is perfectly in tune with the religious nationalists who form the core of his base.”
However, Breitbart News counters, Trump has “repeatedly deferred to scientists, doctors and experts in the administration — particularly Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Debbie Birx, who feature in his daily press briefings.”
Breitbart notes that, despite opposition from Democrats like Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, scientists have confirmed that the president’s travel bans on China and Europe helped to slow the spread of the virus in the United States. Dr. Fauci even urged the travel ban be imposed on Europe, while Biden denounced it and called the travel ban on China “hysterical” and xenophobic.
This virus does not care if you are a Christian or an atheist, a Republican or a Democrat. In a time where the world is attempting to work together to solve this crisis, it is unbelievable that the New York Times would be using such inflammatory, targeted language toward an entire religious community.
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