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New York Times Ignores The Evidence To Slander Christians As Coronavirus Deniers

https://www.theaquilareport.com/new-york-times-ignores-the-evidence-to-slander-christians-as-coronavirus-deniers/

Stewart’s hit piece uses all the standard tools of yellow journalism: caricature, guilt by association, hasty generalization, cherry-picking evidence, ignoring contrary evidence, and more. For instance, she quotes three pastors as examples of “many of [Trump’s] evangelical allies.” One, on March 15, “urged his congregants to show up for worship in person.”

 

“Stop denying science!! … There is a special place in hell for you folks!! If any of your ilk get COVID-19 I hope you stick to your ‘non-science’ beliefs and let someone else have a ventilator.” “This is on you, dumb [%@&]!”

These are examples of messages the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation received recently. What could stir up such anger?

These and similar messages were prompted by Katherine Stewart’s March 27 article “The Religious Right’s Hostility to Science Is Crippling Our Coronavirus Response” in The New York Times, in which she targeted the Cornwall Alliance, the organization I founded.

Stewart begins, “Donald Trump rose to power with the determined assistance of a movement that denies science, bashes government and prioritized loyalty over professional expertise. In the current [Coronavirus] crisis, we are all reaping what that movement has sown.” She later describes the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic as incompetent and “in the hands of people who appear to be incapable of running it well.” Tell that to Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx.

But first she identifies the problem as “religious nationalism,” or “Christian nationalism,” which, she says, drives “the hard core of climate deniers” among “religiously conservative Republicans.” “This denial of science and critical thinking among religious ultraconservatives now haunts the American response to the coronavirus crisis,” she insists.

Stewart Paints Religious Leaders with a Broad Brush

Stewart’s hit piece uses all the standard tools of yellow journalism: caricature, guilt by association, hasty generalization, cherry-picking evidence, ignoring contrary evidence, and more. For instance, she quotes three pastors as examples of “many of [Trump’s] evangelical allies.” One, on March 15, “urged his congregants to show up for worship in person.”

She fails to mention he later changed his mind, arranged for services to be live-streamed, and referred to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website for preventative measures. Another said he would stop in-person worship services only when “the rapture is taking place.” The third said he would pass out “anointed handkerchiefs” to protect his followers.

What Stewart doesn’t tell her readers is that all three are on the extreme fringe of American religion. They represent the “name-it-and-claim-it,” “positive-confession,” “health-and-wealth-gospel” movement condemned as heresy by orthodox Christianity. At least one is even anti-Trinitarian, putting him outside the bounds of historic Christianity — Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant — defined by the ecumenical creeds of the fourth and fifth centuries.

As Jerry Newcombe of D. James Kennedy Ministries points out in a response to Stewart:

It does not help that there are reports of a few mega-churches in the country that are defying the orders to not meet together in large groups lest we infect one another. But those irresponsible ministers are the exception, not the rule. Shame on those pastors who are disobeying the government’s commonsense orders during the pandemic. They are putting other people’s lives at risk. But the vast majority of churches in the country are using the tools available to us to ‘meet’ and ‘hold service’ in virtual ways, through the internet.

Stewart also ignored conservative evangelicals who said very different things. Dr. Frank Wright, president of D. James Kennedy Ministries and former president of National Religious Broadcasters, said love of neighbor requires us to “give our best effort in stopping the spread” of the virus by “avoiding large gatherings.”

Joshua Arnold, media coordinator for the Family Research Council, wrote in The Christian Post of the need for strong measures and urged churches to follow government instructions to suspend in-person worship services. Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice, an outspoken Trump supporter, on March 24 urged people to “follow the shelter-in-place protocols for everyone’s protection.”

National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, one of the world’s top medical scientists, appeared on Focus on the Family’s flagship program on March 19 to warn of the danger and explain the need for widespread quarantines and shelter-in-place orders. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Dr. Albert Mohler discussed the disease and its dangers on eight episodes of his daily podcast “The Briefing” March 13-24, while strongly objecting on March 23 to arguments that the near-shutdown of the economy was necessary to curtail the virus.

Stewart reserves special contempt for people who hold to biblical creationism. But Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis, announced March 16 — before most shelter-in-place or avoid-large-gathering orders went out from government officials — that his ministry was closing its Creation Museum and Ark Encounter and canceling conferences to aid in curbing COVID-19’s spread.

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