Evangelicals Defy Social Distancing Rules, Die From Coronavirus in High Numbers

Christian evangelicals who have been downplaying the dangers of coronavirus and violating social distancing rules are reportedly dying at an alarming rate, even though they claimed God would protect them, reports the Independent:

Dozens of pastors across the Bible Belt have succumbed to coronavirus after churches and televangelists played down the pandemic and actively encouraged churchgoers to flout self-distancing guidelines...

Several other prominent evangelical leaders and televangelists on the Christian right, who rely on miraculous healing in their ministries, have also attempted to capitalise on the crisis.

Kenneth Copeland urged viewers to pay tithes despite losing their jobs amid unprecedented unemployment claims. Jim Bakker pleaded to viewers to donate to his ministry to avoid filing for bankruptcy after he was cut off from credit card processing companies for selling a fake coronavirus “cure” for $80.

According to a Religion News Service survey, evangelicals are more likely to defy health warnings:

[E]vangelicals were more likely to report worshipping in person in states with no restrictions ​as well as​ states with religious restrictions. In both cases, almost a third of church-attending evangelicals reported attending worship in person.

Religion News Service also notes the defiance mentality of evangelicals:

In a 1998 book, sociologist Christian Smith famously referred to evangelicals as “​embattled and thriving,”​ and we can see that embattled mentality on display here.

But this view is also currently being stoked by religious elites, with a number of evangelical leaders calling for active resistance against state orders.

Christian right legal groups such as Liberty Counsel are ​spoiling for fights;​ other Christian right think tanks are urging resistance, supporting the few individual clergy who are quite open about their mission.

(Sources: Independent, Religion News, Photo Credit: White House)

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