Conservative Twitter was outraged on Friday by a New York Times op-ed viciously titled “The Road to Coronavirus Hell Was Paved by Evangelicals.” Later in the day, it was revised to a gentler meanness (the subtitle’s the same):
The Religious Right’s Hostility to Science Is Crippling Our Coronavirus Response
Trump’s response to the pandemic has been haunted by the science denialism of his ultraconservative religious allies.
The author is Katherine Stewart, author of a book called The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism. On Friday night, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins appeared on Fox News at Night to criticize this article.
SHANNON BREAM: It starts out saying “Donald Trump rose to power with the determined assistance of a movement that denies science, bashes government, and prioritizes loyalty over professional expertise. In the current crisis, we are all reaping with that movement has sown.” Tony?
TONY PERKINS: Shannon, it’s reprehensible that The New York Times would allow this hate-filled, bigoted rant in their paper at a time of a national crisis, when people are dying. It appears they cannot put politics aside to work for the well-being of the nation. They are more interested in criticizing President Trump and his supporters than they are containing the coronavirus. It’s sad, quite frankly, that this is how they respond to the president and to his supporters.
Stewart’s second paragraph began by dragging in slavery: “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.”
The usual left-wing notes follow, that “the hard core of climate deniers is concentrated among people who identify as religiously conservative Republicans,” and “if you examine the political roots of the life-threatening belief in the privatization of everything, you’ll see that Christian nationalism played a major role in creating and promoting the economic foundations of America’s incompetent response to the pandemic.”
And of course, Stewart ardently favors abortion, so she trashes HHS Secretary Alex Azar for supporting the notion that doctors and nurses should have the right to not perform abortions — or in her euphemistic words, “to deny legal and often medically indicated health care services” — if it’s against their conscience.
Stewart rails against calling the Democrats the “party of death,” and insists for religious conservatives, “Fealty to the cause is everything; fidelity to the facts means nothing.”
Bream mentioned a similar piece by Chrissy Stroop titled “Authoritarian Christians are deliberately undermining the public health response to coronavirus.” It’s on a site called The Conversationalist, which is a bit funny since their motto is “Transformative thinking toward a more civil society.”