Washington Post contributor Gary Abernathy and Harvard cognitive scientist Steven Pinker know the real reason why Republicans are so anxious to reopen the economy. In a Wednesday op-ed, Abernathy wrote that the left thinks the reason why Republicans aren’t “as worried as they should be” about dying from the coronavirus is that they “get bad information from President Trump, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh.”
Abernathy believes the actual reason is that many Republicans are evangelicals who believe that, “Only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God’s free gift of eternal salvation.” He argues that “this literal belief in eternal salvation — eternal life — helps explain the different reactions to life-threatening events like a coronavirus outbreak.”
Among those who hold literal biblical interpretations is the certainty that waiting at the end of this terrestrial journey is eternal life in Heaven. Evangelicals take it to heart when James reminds them, “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes,” or when Paul writes, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us,” or when Jesus asks, rhetorically, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
The coronavirus? Christian fundamentalism is often fatalistic. As far as many evangelicals are concerned, life passes quickly, suffering is temporary and worrying solves nothing. That’s not a view that comports well with long stretches of earthly time spent waiting out business closures or stay-at-home orders. It should be no surprise that a person’s deepest beliefs about the world influence how they measure the risks they’re willing to take.
His proof? He writes that he spoke to former six-term Rep. Bob McEwen (R-OH), a longtime evangelical leader who serves as an advisory member of James Dobson’s Family Talk board of directors. “McEwen told me this week that evangelicals aren’t rattled by COVID-19, either the disease or the government’s response to the pandemic, because the Bible instructs them not to let earthly fears overwhelm them. “They steal your life, your liberty and your freedom by using fear,” said McEwen. “Man, on his own without God, will always be fearful,” he added. “But the Bible says, ‘Fear not.’”
He concludes by admitting:
Evangelicals aren’t just twiddling their thumbs until Heaven beckons, of course. Most of them aggressively pursue careers, enjoy television shows, cheer their favorite sports teams, and take pride in the achievements of family and friends. They do good things in their communities, and sometimes they do bad things, just like everyone else.
They’re in no hurry to exit this world. But when ruminating over why there are millions of people who don’t seem to panic over a global pandemic or other life-threatening event, critics should remember that, right or wrong, it often involves a belief in something even bigger than people named Trump, Hannity or Limbaugh.
Pinker read Abernathy’s op-ed and took it a bit further. In the tweet below, Pinker writes, “Belief in an afterlife is a malignant delusion, since it devalues actual lives and discourages action that would make them longer, safer, and happier. Exhibit A: What’s really behind Republicans wanting a swift reopening? Evangelicals.”
Belief in an afterlife is a malignant delusion, since it devalues actual lives and discourages action that would make them longer, safer, and happier. Exhibit A: What’s really behind Republicans wanting a swift reopening? Evangelicals. https://t.co/ppo2bwiVGn
— Steven Pinker (@sapinker) May 21, 2020
The left often portrays Republicans as simple people whose naive reliance upon a higher power renders us incapable of seeing clearly. They view themselves as superior to us. They are the liberal elites. They believe they are the savviest, most enlightened, and best-educated Americans. We are vile and contemptible. We are “the bitter clingers.”
Aside from the fact that most Democrats are enjoying their new emergency powers, the reality is that the left wants the country to remain in lockdown for as long as possible because they know that each week it remains closed will inflict deeper and more long-lasting economic damage. The worse the economy, the better the chances of a Trump defeat. If they had their way, it would stay closed through Election Day.
The argument that Republicans wish to hasten our deaths to enjoy our “heavenly reward” sooner is their most inaccurate, pathetic, and desperate yet.