What do you get when you poll an irrational people? Irrational responses.
Almost two-thirds of American believers think that the coronavirus is God’s way of telling us to shape up, and 55 percent believe without rhyme or reason that God will protect them from getting infected. Those are some key findings in a poll of 1,002 Americans by the University of Chicago Divinity School and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.2 percent.
The poll found that 31% of Americans who believe in God feel strongly that the virus is a sign telling humanity to change, with the same number feeling that ‘somewhat.’ Evangelical Protestants are more likely than others to believe that strongly, at 43%, compared with 28% of Catholics and mainline Protestants.
In addition, black Americans were more likely than those of other racial backgrounds to say they feel the virus is a sign God wants humanity to change, regardless of education, income or gender. Forty-seven per cent say they feel that strongly, compared with 37% of Latino and 27% of white Americans.
(When those 31% of Americans in each of the “strongly”/”somewhat” camps were added together, with rounding, it came out to 63% total.)
The poll found black Americans who believe in God are more likely than others to say they have felt doubt about God’s existence as a result of the virus — 27% said that, compared with 13% of Latinos and 11% of white Americans.
Even Nones are caught up in the madness.
Lance Dejesus of Dallastown, Pennsylvania, saw a possible bigger message in the virus. “It could be a sign, like ‘hey, get your act together’ — I don’t know,” said Dejesus, 52, who said he believes in God but doesn’t consider himself religious. “It just seems like everything was going in an OK direction and all of a sudden you get this coronavirus thing that happens, pops out of nowhere.”
Therefore, God did it, probably. Logically, that seems a little loose, no?
Polling just a thousand Americans won’t lead to finely-grained results, so take the following tiny change with a big amount of salt:
[T]he virus has prompted negligible change in Americans’ overall belief in God, with 2% saying they believe in God today, but did not before. Fewer than 1% say they do not believe in God today but did before.
26% of Americans say their sense of faith or spirituality has grown stronger as a result of the outbreak. Just 1% say it has weakened.
I would love to know what the people who think that God is giving us a message believe that message is, and why they believe that, but I’ll bet that it all corresponds neatly with opinions they already had.
Almost no one in conservative Christianity will believe that the Almighty is mad at us for the many murders of trans people, or for doing too little to convert from fossil fuels to solar and wind energy, or for electing leaders like Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro, and Rodrigo Duterte. It won’t occur to them that maybe the Lawd is punishing us for our endless wars, or for the rich neglecting the poor, or for the child-rape perpetrated by so many of his Earthly representatives, or for the U.S. failing to implement “socialized” healthcare. That’s crazy talk.
To believers on the right, God is like a Magic 8-Ball that they’ve quietly rigged to supply only preferred answers. Ask the ball why we get deadly hurricanes or viruses, and the answer is “gay marriage.” Ask it again, and you’ll get “taking prayer out of schools.” A third time, it’s “pornography,” or “saying Happy Holidays,” or maybe “Starbucks cups with the wrong motif.”
Just like their religion, it’s childish, predictable, and substantially falsified.
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