In case you missed it last night, and I’m sure you did, there was a two-hour, indoor, mask-free, social-distancing-be-damned Christian worship service at Calvary Chapel in Chino Hills, California. The goal was to feed everyone’s Persecution Complex and urge Christians across the country to pretend like there’s no pandemic and start meeting in person once again.
The event had the tongue in cheek name “Non-Essential” — suggesting that government officials deemed their religion to be not very important. That’s a lie, of course. When COVID restrictions were put in place, government officials had to create some exemptions to the no-large-crowds rule. Grocery stores, for example, were said to be “essential.” You need food. There’s no way to eat via Zoom. So people were allowed to “gather” in grocery stores — with masks and distancing and only because people just get what they need and get out rather than linger around to chat with strangers.
Other places, like gyms and clothing stores and churches, were not on those lists. Not because they’re not important, but because the risks to public health were too great. Many adjusted. Restaurants, for example, began shifting to take-out since people couldn’t dine inside. Many churches adjusted by live-streaming their services.
But not these people.
Last night, hundreds (if not thousands) of people crammed together in close proximity, without masks, to celebrate their faith… while inadvertently creating a potential super-spreader event.
The entire thing is just a nightmare to watch if you have any sense of human empathy. Many Americans have canceled their weddings, missed their graduations, self-quarantined to the point where they haven’t seen their own family in a long time — all to stay safe and avoid spreading the virus to other people.
These Christians don’t care.
They don’t take the threat of the virus seriously, they don’t understand that asymptomatic people can still spread the virus to others, and they don’t care who they infect. Their minds are in a bubble but their bodies are not.
Dr. Dan Erickson opened the event with a speech saying you can’t avoid dangers forever and you can’t legislate risk. But his examples were skydiving and eating “gas station sushi” — the sorts of things that are not communicable diseases. If this virus only affected people making stupid decisions, we’d be having a very different conversation. It doesn’t. The ignorance of COVID-deniers affects all of us. He also claimed we can build a natural immunity to the virus… which more than 200,000 dead Americans could tell you is either not true or not happening fast enough.
Another speaker, Pastor Rob McCoy, spread the debunked claim that only 6% of COVID deaths are actually related to COVID. He also lashed out against an unnamed church that said it would close down temporarily, saying they stood with “tyrannical officials” who closed schools and hurt the economy.
Cissie Graham Lynch, a granddaughter of Rev. Billy Graham, made a political speech without quite endorsing Donald Trump. Instead, she just implied that a Joe Biden administration would destroy Christianity by protecting LGBTQ rights and letting women have control over their own bodies.
David J. Harris, Jr., a Black preacher, lashed out against Black Lives Matter (which he called “anti-God”) by reminding the mostly white audience that All Lives Matter.
Charlie Kirk called the national lockdown — which never really happened — the “worst mistake in the history of our country.” No word on where slavery falls in his ranking.
Kirk Cameron said nothing of importance.
Dinesh D’Souza gave his usual diatribe about how Democrats just want socialism and abortion. He denounced academia and Hollywood and the media. He also said, without irony, that people who were “collecting money from foreign governments” and involving their family members in their business dealings deserve to go to jail, not him for just giving money to his college friend running for office. (That’s not why he was sentenced to prison.)
It’s not surprising that a group of right-wing Christians would gather to talk about how persecuted they are.
It’s not surprising they would reject the seriousness of the COVID threat.
But to bring this many people together, with no sensible health precautions, in the midst of a pandemic that has already take over 218,000 American lives and counting, is just wildly irresponsible. They could’ve done this via live-stream alone. But they chose to put people in danger instead.
It may take a couple of weeks before we learn how much physical damage this event caused. But my fear is that it won’t be a small number.
(Thanks to Justin for the link)