While most of us have been doing our part not to breathe fresh coronavirus into each other’s faces, Trump-leaning churches across America engaged in a modern-day version of snake-handling by continuing to invite their congregations to fill pews with varying degrees of “F**k you”-itousness. One of the more brazen examples is Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne, who not only jam-packed his Tampa church on Sunday morning but encouraged his parishioners to vigorously shake hands, because there ain’t no pussies in his pews. No, sir.
Right-wing pastor Rodney Howard-Browne is not about to cancel church or prevent congregants from shaking hands because they are not a bunch of "pansies." pic.twitter.com/C36kBIEWqF— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) March 15, 2020
Howard-Browne also dabbled in some good old-fashioned conspiracy theories by tapping into the fevered wet dream of the government shutting down churches, inevitably forcing the faithful to rise up and start mowing down civil servants. A position that is super rich considering goddamn Donald Trump is the president and has spent his entire first term tossing the reddest meat you can find straight into evangelical mouths. For Chrissakes, he put an “alleged” rapist on the Supreme Court just to tickle anti-choice wieners, but why let that get in the way of some good End Times thumping?
Via Right Wing Watch:
“It’s been weaponized to instill fear into people because what they want to do is change the way the world functions, really forever,” he said. “All these churches that are allowing themselves to come down to 250 [congregants], guess what? When you try to meet again, you ain’t gonna be able to meet again. They are going to keep you at 250 because you gave up ground. You gave up ground. Whatever ground you give up because of fear, you will give up permanently.”
Wow, goddammit. If you think the government’s priority when this thing is over is to diligently police church attendance levels, you’re out of your f**king mind, but I think that point has been overwhelmingly established.
On a fun note, while Reverend Pansy was packing his pews in Tampa, this happened later that same day in Orlando. I believe the words you’re looking for are “SON OF AN ASS-BITCH FLORIDA.”
Obviously, Howard-Browne is an extreme example of evangelical attitudes toward the coronavirus, but he’s not exactly an outlier either. There is a pervasive and terrifying viewpoint going around these churches that acknowledging the severity of the outbreak and taking proper precautions is to admit defeat to worldly ideals like science and modern medicine. Or “liberalism” as these people literally call it.
“One pastor said half of his church is ready to lick the floor, to prove there’s no actual virus,” an Arkansas pastor told me. “In your more politically conservative regions, closing is not interpreted as caring for you. It’s interpreted as liberalism.”https://t.co/n1pweTSS3Q— Julie Zauzmer (@JulieZauzmer) March 15, 2020
Here’s the thing, when you go around preaching that all people need to do is turn off the news and turn to The Bible — which are actual words floating around social media — it really undermines your product when you find yourself having to tell your congregation to use sanitizer, keep five away from each other, or God forbid, please stay the hell home. Because, at that point, which is it: Will the Holy Spirit ward off the coronavirus like you promised, or is it safer to listen to the “liberal media” that you just accused of trying to scare everybody? You see the Catch-22 here.
The only problem is while churches weigh that spiritual dilemma, they’ve already exposed who knows how many people to a virus that drops old people like nothing. I know these places act like they’re not in it for the money, but imagine running a business and throwing Ebola right in the eyes of your largest and most reliable customer base, because that’s what just happened here. Or, worse, imagine genuinely caring about your older parishioners, yet you’re still more concerned with how it will look if you concede to “liberal talking points,” so you invite them in for a nice plague-filled service.
But while there is a bit of schadenfreude in watching such a spectacular example of social Darwinism, these people don’t just go to church then immediately drive home. They walk around our communities touching surfaces, so surprise! Evangelicals weren’t done dooming us all when they overwhelmingly voted for Trump who exacerbated this whole situation with his gross, narcissistic incompetence.
God bless America.
Header Image Source: Getty