Tuesday, April 28, 2020

The Christian Right is a Principally a Political Phenomenon

David Lane
The Christianist David Lane Selling Trump
GOP operative and Christian nationalist David Lane has authored: America's Refusal to Lift Lockdowns Shows We've 'Gone the Way of Cain, Balaam'.

Criticism of COVID-19 protective measures has become a familiar refrain; one that has emanated from organizations like Family Research Council and American Family Association. The appeal is religious but the intent is purely political.

Lane's biblical references to Cain and Balaam are merely embellishments designed to sell these ideas to the general public. The Christian right has determined the following:
  1. Trump's political interests are best served by restarting the economy and;
  2. Assigning responsibility for lockdowns to Democrats damages them politically.
  3. Republicans can make a sizable impact by appealing to conservative Christians.
This corresponds with protesters who are literally risking their lives to advance their personal economic and political agendas. These are the MAGA-bots and Q-Anon theorists who will do just about anything that they think Trump wants them to do. Trump's wishes are transmitted by tweet:
It is quite a gamble. With a patina of piousness they are willing to risk the lives and health of Americans to deliver a political advantage to Trump. Some republican governors like Abbott (per the above tweet) are going along.

The added benefit they perceive is that more responsible Democratic governors will be characterized as punishing the people in order to intentionally damage Trump's reelection campaign. It's all very cynical. “The don't care about your health. They want to win, at your expense, in November.”

Part of this seems to be premised on the idea that warmer spring temperatures will naturally kill the novel coronavirus. I am not so sure that is medically accurate. If it is and then if the virus rebounds in the fall … what then?

Low turnout at the polls has always benefited Republicans. And you know that Trump and McConnell will do everything humanly possible to prevent large-scale absentee balloting. In 2016 Trump claimed that he lost the popular vote only because of voter fraud by illegal aliens.

According to David Lane:
We have experienced a lengthy time of single-minded adherence to alarmist, scaremongering scientism. This is due to the excessive belief that the "scientific" understanding of disease is the only relevant issue, providing exclusive access to the truth whilst ignoring any other factors.
This is the kind of convenient science denial that we are accustomed to seeing in regards to LGBTQ issues. Lane claims to be relying on a Wall Street Journal editorial by Allysia Finley. Finley is a 30-something opinion writer with an undergraduate degree.

In essence Lane is creating a conspiracy theory that scientists cannot be trusted because all they care about is, well … science. It might be amusing were the consequences not so dire.

Lane is as dishonest as Trump:
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer defended an order that, among other things, banned the sale of paint and vegetable seeds but not liquor or lottery tickets. 'Each action has been informed by the best science and epidemiology counsel there is,' she wrote in an op-ed.
That has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not a lockdown is medically appropriate. The argument is dishonest at the outset. Liquor and seeds are sold in hardware stores which are closed while alcohol and lottery tickets are sold in grocery stores which are open.

Finley selectively quotes from Dr. John Ioannidis; Lane selectively quotes from Finley. Ioannidis is a highly regarded scientist on the faculty of Stanford Medical School. In March he wrote that we are making too many decisions without enough reliable information. At that time there were 68 deaths in the United States from COVId-19:
Draconian countermeasures have been adopted in many countries. If the pandemic dissipates — either on its own or because of these measures — short-term extreme social distancing and lockdowns may be bearable. How long, though, should measures like these be continued if the pandemic churns across the globe unabated? How can policymakers tell if they are doing more good than harm?
And:
Given the limited testing to date, some deaths and probably the vast majority of infections due to SARS-CoV-2 are being missed. We don’t know if we are failing to capture infections by a factor of three or 300. Three months after the outbreak emerged, most countries, including the U.S., lack the ability to test a large number of people and no countries have reliable data on the prevalence of the virus in a representative random sample of the general population.
Dr. Ioannidis is asking some very good questions. He did not claim that we should lift stay-at-home orders.

According to Lane:
One of the dissenters tarred and feathered by the main street media clique is John Ioannidis, a professor of medicine, of health research and policy, and of biomedical data science at Stanford University School of Medicine.
Here is a perfect example of Lane's claim:
“We don’t know if we are failing to capture infections by a factor of three or 300,” writes Stanford’s disease prevention expert, John P.A. Ioannidis, in a must-read piece in the authoritative science and medicine website Stat (itself a must-read).
The above quote appeared in the rabidly right-wing New York Times. The Times trashed Dr. Ioannidis. Can I sign up to get similarly trashed and victimized by “liberal media bias?”

Lane knows his audience:
On the basis of guesswork of titanic proportions and media fanning the flames of panic, 27 million people have lost their jobs. Moreover, the mania has led pliant politicians to irresponsibly charge an extra $2.5 trillion to America's credit card, on top of the already $24 trillion debt.
David Lane knows that his constituency will blame Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the “fake news” media for bad stuff. They eagerly deposited the checks but will line up to voice their opposition to a bipartisan effort orchestrated primarily by Trump himself. They will blissfully forget Trump's involvement.
America's miraculous rise notwithstanding, 20th-century secular atheistic educationists barged in, imparting to the last three generations the humanistic worldview that human nature is predominantly upright and in good standing with its Maker.
What a blowhard. We keep coddling people who think that everything happens because of some guy with a long gray beard sitting on clouds. We coddle and they keep shouting nonsense about religious freedom which usually translates to a self-conceived “right” to discriminate against LGBTQ people in defiance of applicable law.

And on that note:
As an example of [our] minimal influence, we once again refer to the Greater Dallas area church with tens of thousands of members and a multimillion annual budget. When the City Council bestowed in a 5 to 3 vote "special rights" upon pro-LGBT activists, all with the backing of the city's republican mayor, an evangelical leader threatened the mayor with the words, "We'll see you in November." Raising $318,000 for his reelection, the mayor was reelected with a total of 14,180 votes.
“Special rights” are the exclusive province of Christian nationalists who believe that they are entitled to disobey laws that they do not like. Lane knows what he is doing. He is leveraging LGBTQ disapproval against the intent of this polemic which is to reelect Trump.

The appeal becomes religious but the intent is political:
To survive, we must return to Jesus' kingdom assignment found in Matthew 16:18. Expressly present in the public square, outside of the four walls of the church building, His ekklesia stands where "the gates of Hades shall not prevail."
David Lane knows a great deal about viruses. David Lane is a virus … and an anti-LGBTQ bigot. Lane is also someone willing to overlook all of Trump's immorality, sociopathy and dishonesty in order to gain some political power. Some people might call that “hypocrisy.”

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