Let’s Not Meet The Lord In The Air: Televangelist Kenneth Copeland casts the threat of Coronavirus into his own brand of spirituality. “You get your tithe in that church if you have to go take it down there and drop it off or stick it under the door or something”.[i] He runs a high-overhead business funded by ordinary people sacrificing their paychecks. If his marks are broke, he’ll be broke too. Never mind you’re unemployed; you need to keep giving him the Lord’s money even if you may not see another paycheck for a long time. Maybe a better money-raising idea for him would be to put his fleet of private jets on the block. This is Coronavirus lock-down time; no one’s flying anywhere. As he once protested against his flying commercial – “This dope-filled world, and get in a long tube with a bunch of demons. And it’s deadly.”[ii]
Guess the Country Quiz: “________ have been put at risk by the callous policies of _____________ that values retaining power, protecting its image, and safeguarding its own economic, political, and ideological interests over public health.”[iii] If you guessed this was some rational person talking about Trump, you’d be wrong.
Pooping out Christian lawyers into an oversaturated market satisfies the Fundamentalist itch to save America. Liberty is the go-to pipeline to fill out the Trump administration; they have that working for them. Perhaps its best that the University preferred a law school over a medical college. Given the prevalence of anti-vaxxers, even if a vaccine were found, these tribalists probably wouldn’t support it. Being anti-science is a quaint religious belief, until it starts killing other people.
See how they love one another! It’s been widely reported that Jerry Falwell Jr. is not shutting down in-class studies at his Liberty University, implying that the coronavirus outbreak only affects the elderly and infirm. “I think he is dangerously wrong here and seems unable or unwilling to recognize it,” an LU professor had the temerity to write.[iv] Brother Falwell is right one respect – mortality from the virus is more prevalent among vulnerable populations. And yet, any one can be an asymptomatic carrier – and we have no idea how many people have the virus but have not been tested. We’ve always been told that brotherly love is infectious. We’ll see how Typhoid Mary plays out in the Liberty dorms.
“You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is more to your advantage to have one man die for the people than for the whole nation to perish.” Committed evangelical and Lt. Governor of Texas, Dan Patrick was speaking on behalf of all AARP-age people. He said he and other American seniors would be willing to die from the coronavirus in order to save the economy. Patrick was mimicking Trump, who was mimicking Fox News. “My message is: Let’s get back to work,” he said. “Those of us who are 70-plus, we’ll take care of ourselves, but don’t sacrifice the country.”[v] Moral Triage: If the price is a few dead old people, so be it. Like the Nazis thought, they are simply “useless eaters” anyway.
David Brody now on Enemies List? As political reporter for the Christian Broadcasting Network, David Brody has had carte blanche access to the President. Maybe not so much anymore, after two negative tweets accused the President of providing “… false information about testing…multiple times! Invoking hyperbole in certain situations may be permissible but false statements about the #Coronavirus is sloppy & dangerous.”[vi] Does this signal an evangelical divorce from President Trump? No, but Trump will etch this disloyalty into his very stable genius. He never forgets a slight, and forgiveness is not in his moral vocabulary.
“What do you say to these beans? They’re magical. Plant them overnight and …”, Jack protested to his mother. Never mind that Jim Bakker can’t sell his miracle silver Kool-Aid any more. Now he’s peddling “some of the most common and powerful medicinal herbs that can be readily grown from seed”. You can buy a bucket’s worth of this medicine exclusively from him for $99. Or you can get a similar one on Amazon for $20. You have to hand it to Brother Bakker. He may be greedy, but at least he’s resourceful.[vii]
[i] Michael Stone, “Televangelist Copeland Commands Unemployed Followers To Keep Giving”, Patheos, March 19, 2020. https://www.patheos.com/blogs/progressivesecularhumanist/2020/03/televangelist-copeland-commands-unemployed-followers-to-keep-giving/ (accessed March 23, 2020).
[ii] Jessica Chasmar, “Televangelists Defend Private Jets: Commercial Planes Full Of ‘Demons’”, The Washington Times, January 5, 2016. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/jan/5/kenneth-copeland-jesse-duplantis-defend-private-je/ (accessed March 24, 2020).
[iii] James Phillips and Nicole Robinson, “Iranian Regime’s Reckless Disregard Made the Coronavirus Outbreak Worse, Daily Signal, March 20, 2020. https://www.dailysignal.com/2020/03/20/iranian-regimes-reckless-disregard-made-the-coronavirus-outbreak-worse/ (accessed March 24, 2020).
[iv] Marybeth Davis Baggett, “Dear Liberty University Board: Please Stop Jerry Falwell Jr. Before It’s Too Late”, Religion News Service, March 22, 2020. https://religionnews.com/2020/03/22/dear-liberty-university-board-please-stop-jerry-falwell-jr-before-its-too-late/ (accessed March 24, 2020).
[v] Jonathan Tilove, “Dan Patrick’s Coronavirus Sacrifice: I’ll Risk My Own Life To Keep Economy Humming”, Austin Statesman, March 24, 2020. https://www.statesman.com/news/20200324/first-reading-dan-patrickrsquos-coronavirus-sacrifice-irsquoll-risk-my-own-life-to-keep-economy-humming (accessed March 24, 2020).
[vi] Sky Palma, “‘A Major Failure’: Evangelical Pundit Turns On Trump For ‘Confusing People‘ With His Coronavirus Lies”, Raw Story, March 12, 2020. https://www.rawstory.com/2020/03/a-major-failure-evangelical-pundit-turns-on-trump-for-confusing-people-with-his-coronavirus-lies/ (accessed March 24, 2020).
[vii] Hemant Mehta, “Jim Bakker, Unable to Sell Virus ‘Cure, Promotes ‘Make Your Own Medicine’ Plant”, Patheos, March 20, 2020. https://www.patheos.com/blogs/rolltodisbelieve/2020/03/20/jim-bakkers-at-it-again-chat-post-2/ (accessed March 24, 2020).