It’s well known that Donald Trump’s surge to the presidency was greatly aided by his evangelical supporters. Now, according to the New York Times’ Katherine Stewart, “we are all reaping what that movement has sown” as the coronavirus health crisis continues to spiral.
The “denial of science and critical thinking among religious ultraconservatives now haunts the American response to the coronavirus crisis,” Stewart writes, citing examples of Christian pastors who insisting on keeping their church doors open as lockdown orders grip the country.
Trump’s tendency to trust his flawed instincts over the experts isn’t due to any sort of religious conviction, but that tendency is perfectly in sync with his evangelical base. Trump’s hopes that the country can get back to its normal routine by Easter was no accident, according to Stewart, and many evangelicals were pleased by his vision of “packed churches all over our country” when his Easter goal rolled around.
“Religious nationalism has brought to American politics the conviction that our political differences are a battle between absolute evil and absolute good,” Stewart writes. “When you’re engaged in a struggle between the ‘party of life’ and the ‘party of death,’ as some religious nationalists now frame our political divisions, you don’t need to worry about crafting careful policy based on expert opinion and analysis.”
Stewart predicts that February, 2020, will go down in history as the month where America dropped the ball in getting ahead of the burgeoning coronavirus crisis. But what will be less discussed is the role the Christian nationalist movement had hindering our response — a movement that ensured that “our government is in the hands of people who appear to be incapable of running it well.”
Read her full op-ed over at The New York Times.