There is a singular and profound question that tugs at the sleeve of even the most sober analyst pondering the federal response to coronavirus. To wit, what the hell is it with these people? Although he's since backed off the proposal Michael Gerson couldn't figure out why Trump would decide to re-open the nation on Easter:
According to classic interpretations of the Jewish and Christian Bibles, a Canaanite deity named Moloch demanded the sacrifice of children. There is a long history of writing about this bloodthirsty god spanning the ancient world to John Milton’s Paradise Lost to Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” to modern social commentators. One recurring point is that the depravity of Moloch was reflected in his insatiable lust for innocent flesh.
Here's the data that shows Americans who rage against political correctness are the most xenophobic — and most likely to vote Trump
Admittedly, Trump’s initial references to “the Chinese Virus” earlier in March seemed rather ad-hoc. Though clearly xenophobic in context and implication, it seemed that Trump was casually parroting the language of other far-Right commentators like Charlie Kirk. Within the past week, however, Trump has ramped up his labeling campaign, often going out of his way to refer to COVID-19 as “the Chinese Virus” in Twitter storms and White House press briefings.
It's particularly important for churches that continue to meet during the COVID-19 pandemic to follow the guidelines laid out by health experts given that worship services are among the largest regular gatherings in modern society, among the most physically intimate, and likely include the greatest number of vulnerable people. Even single members of large congregations can have a dramatic effect on how coronavirus spreads or doesn't, as South Korea found out the hard way.
Alabama is the latest state to reconsider its stance on yoga, as reported by The New York Times earlier this week (an article for which I was interviewed). The 1993 Alabama State Department of Education Administrative Code prohibits public school personnel from using “any techniques that involve the induction of hypnotic states, guided imagery, meditation or yoga,” and defines yoga as “a Hindu philosophy and method of religious training in which eastern meditation and contemplation are joined with physical exercises, allegedly to facilitate the development of body-mind-spirit.”
On March 10, President Trump retweeted a post from conservative political activist Charlie Kirk, who referred to the coronavirus (COVID-19) as the “China Virus.“ Kirk also exclaimed in his tweet, “Now, more than ever, we need the wall…the US stands a chance if we can get control of our borders.” Trump retweeted this and added the comment, “Going up fast. We need the wall more than ever!”
Last Friday, the House’s Tom Lantos Commission on Human Rights heard testimony that Russia’s human rights record, including its record on religious freedom, is worsening. There were few surprises in Elizabeth Cassidy’s testimony—particularly for those who’ve been paying even the most passing attention to the Putin regime’s power grab both at home and abroad. Cassidy, the director of research and policy at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, told the Congressional commission, “The Russian government maintains, frequently updates and enforces an array of laws that restrict religious freedom…These violations are escalating, spreading through the country and even across its borders.”
I’ve said it before, and if you’re reading this, you’ve very likely heard the same thing darkly muttered among liberals and progressives if you haven’t said it yourself: I never thought anything could possibly make me miss Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III. And yet, with his willingness to throw away our norms, checks, and balances, to politicize the Justice Department, to sacrifice the rule of law itself on the altar of Trump—current Attorney General William Barr has done it. As authoritarian as he was, invoking Romans 13 to defend the Trump administration’s indefensibly inhumane policy of caging children separated from their asylum-seeking parents, Sessions had at least enough genuine concern for the rule of law to recuse himself from the Mueller investigation, against the tweeter-in-chief’s explicit wishes.
Let's look at the bad news from this Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) tracking survey first: despite remarkably lousy-but-stable favorability numbers (41% approve, 55% disapprove), Pres. Trump has a strong chance of being re-elected in November, unless the situation changes significantly between now and then.
There is a great exodus taking place in Christian circles. Can it be called a loss of faith? I don’t think so. It is rather a loss of confidence in everything at once. Christianity has always been about “the Word,” but these days, words don’t seem to matter. They’ve lost their power to describe and convince in the face of horrible deeds, from climate-change denial to the persecution of trans people to the wholesale abandonment of Christ’s teachings in favor of abusive meanness. The hard-right white evangelical voter gave us Trump. The church sat silent as industrial oligarchs ruined the earth.