Today, my scheduled post (I wrote the post yesterday with no idea on what today was going to look like) was on how the pandemic is intertwined with white nationalism, Trumpism, faith-over-fear / anti-mask statements, racism, and privilege. It’s all entangled at this point. COVID-19 is a huge problem, but it has also exacerbated all of those other problems in a messy, complicated thread. You probably see it too and I’ve tip-toed writing about it as the months have gone on. As a Christian, as a scientist, as someone who deeply believes that social justice is a fruit of the Gospel, I saw the entanglement happen.
When I started writing about faith and loving our neighbors early on in the pandemic, the harassment and threats came only from people of faith. The statements included something about masks or 99% survival or other aspects about the pandemic – and, always included something about the mark of the beast or “shame on you” for not acting like a real Christian.
Then the racist comments and messages started coming in from the same group blaming the pandemic on black funerals, BLM rallies, or protests – but, we have data (and I shared that data) showing that was not the case – what we did have data on was for Trump rallies, Sturgis, and Memorial Day gatherings. The racist comments also came when I talked about how the pandemic is disproportionally affecting our BIPOC neighbors and how we, as the church, can love them by observing basic public health precautions.
Then it all became intertwined – faith and masks, faith and the election, poverty and privilege and racism (including unconscious bias)..you all saw it too – you probably feel all of that. It became one big messy thread.
Today, the thread that has been woven for years (and deepened in the pandemic) snapped. We cannot say we only saw the extremes today – We did see the “Jesus Saves” t-shirts, confederate flags, and verbiage about personal freedom as people stormed the capitol. But, what we have seen over the past 10 months are part of the same thread. We saw the huge unmasked, undistanced September prayer rally in DC or continued unmasked, undistanced worship services in places like Skid Row or across the country in the middle of the pandemic. On an even smaller scale, masking in some churches is still an option based on comfort, choice, and personal freedom.
It might seem like personal masking decisions and what happened at the Capitol today are worlds apart. But, they are part of the same thread. They have both been attached to improper freedom and allegiance, and fall short of loving our neighbors. I want to be part of a new thread – a stronger, deeper, sacred thread that has been woven in and through the Cross for ages. I have a hunch there are a lot of you that do too. A thread that is not complicit in silence or the status quo, but one that points toward Jesus, not worldly ideologies or people.
I’ve been called lots of things this year – a main one was radicalized. If I’ve been radicalized to anything in 2020, let me be radicalized to the words, life, and actions of Jesus. All of His words with all of my freedoms and allegiances.
- Friendly neighbor epidemiologist
I’ll post my original one at a later time.
I know there are many of you in the FNE group who are not Christians. And, you are so very welcome! I’ll get back to posting about the science. Tonight, I just want to say what you are seeing today and have seen over the past 10 months is not the Jesus that thousands of us believe in.