The furor over Evangelicals carrying water for Francis Collins.
Wolves like those warm, snuggly sheep coats.
The furor is starting to die down, but in recent weeks, it was over an article in the Daily Wire: How The Federal Government Used Evangelical Leaders To Spread Covid Propaganda To Churches.
The pastors and faith leaders named are the same ones who scolded other faith leaders—often rightly so—for being too cozy with the Trump administration. But, just like science, reality changes with the administration and the polls.
In essence, the article details how former head of NIH Dr. Frances Collins found top Evangelical movers and shakers to be rather eager to give him a platform and parrot out the idea that wearing a mask and getting a shot was equal to loving your neighbor. Collins, a carryover from the Obama administration, was a useful tool to hook Evangelicals with his proclamations of faith even while using aborted baby bits to humanize mice and other interesting experiments.
At Collins’ mustachioed gentle bidding, these platformed Evangelical Industrial Complex leaders apparently offered no pushback or questioned him on anything, agreeing early on that the idea that the virus came from a lab was ridiculous conspiracy, encouraging pastors to tamp down such crazy thinking and to use their pulpit to push masks and injections, even creating a website with tools to further this pastoral medical agenda.
Author Megan Basham writes, in one particularly disturbing section:
“Once again, [Rick] Warren and Collins spent their interview jointly lamenting the unlovingness of Christians who question the efficacy of masks, specifically framing it as a matter of obedience to Jesus. “Wearing a mask is the great commandment: love your neighbor as yourself,” the best-selling author of “The Purpose-Driven Life” declared, before going on to specifically argue that religious leaders have an obligation to convince religious people to accept the government’s narratives about Covid.
“Let me just say a word to the priests and pastors and rabbis and other faith leaders,” he said. “This is our job, to deal with these conspiracy issues and things like that…One of the responsibilities of faith leaders is to tell people to…trust the science. They’re not going to put out a vaccine that’s going to hurt people.”
Leaving aside for a moment the fact that government does have a record of putting out vaccines that “hurt people,” is it truly the pastor’s job to tell church members to “trust the science?”
There was lots of response to the article.
I’m going to absolutely ignore hot-take king Erick Erickson in this, because that guy was Never Trump then Yes Trump then Never Trump then, on January 6, frantically tweeted that the police should just start shooting everyone at the capitol. So he’s off my list of folks with a level head, and probably someone you never want with you in a foxhole.
Keith Guinta’s article on the matter is worth reading, as he ponders division in the body of Christ and, using scripture, comes to a worthwhile understanding.
There are others writing about it. It’s not hard to find plenty of other people talking about the Daily Wire article. It’s blowing up in certain segments on the internet, including at Julie Roys’ blog, a website I enjoy reading now and then, and one of the first places I headed to to see if they acknowledged it.
Roys does a good job on her website, but the past few years have seen other writers fill her blog with posts that make it clear they might harbor an ever-so-slight derision towards Christians who didn’t tuck a CDC poster in their Bible to peruse every morning during devotions.
The way you can discern the flavor of a website is to see how dissent is packaged. Commenters who dissent on Roys’ blog on this topic do the classic “I wear a mask and even got my boosters so I’m not a nut bag so you can rest assured my dissent is valid” approach, playing the stereotype-and-divide game just to get a seat at the table.
For the record, I neither wore a mask nor got an injection, and I’m not a nut bag. I don’t know how long a list of caveats I need to prove that, so I won’t bother.
I tried to leave a comment but didn’t realize there was a 300 character limit. It will be interesting to see if Roys pursues this story as doggedly as she has other stories.
I did want the input from someone I respected and valued, so I forwarded the Daily Wire article on to who I consider to be my pastor and friend, from back at the church not far from where I grew up.
“It’s an exciting time to be alive,” he wrote back, reminding me that in 2 Corinthians, Paul told us that Satan would masquerade as an angel of light. “Now we are seeing it firsthand,” he said.
He also added that Jesus told us to beware of false prophets “who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” We’ll recognize them by their fruit, he reminded me. “Now we are seeing it firsthand.”
And then he brought it home, reminding me that Jesus said that “not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven.”
I’ve often struggled with that passage, wondering how people who prophesy and cast out demons and do good works and are fluent in using the name of the Lord and couching their existence in an identity of faith—people who know so much about God, but don’t know God, I guess—could miss out on truly saving faith.
The thief on the cross figured it out, with the clock running down. How can anyone miss it, when you’re so steeped in it?
“Never did quite completely understand how that last statement would come about, but I’m starting to,” he wrote. “All that glitters isn’t gold.”
The smart, educated, heavily degreed, powerful, esteemed, platformed, acceptable, reputable, salaried, published, lauded religious professional and all the words they put in the air and on print might, on their day of judgment, have been for nothing because they didn’t actually know Jesus.
I guess I’d rather have my dad and mom pray for me, than any of those folks.
A few years back, when the Ravi Zacharias scandal broke, I had a similar moment to the reaction I had reading the Daily Wire article.
I wasn’t a huge fan or follower of Zacharias. Apologetics isn’t generally my thing (though I do like to periodically listen to Mike Winger who is more pastoral than debater); I don’t need it for my own faith as a proof. Sometimes Ravi would so arduously set about proving the logical position for faith that it seemed like proving air exists while you breathe. If you refuse to be convinced, hold your breath.
But I knew that Zacharias had a huge impact on modern Christendom and that the details of the scandal would demolish the faith of many who hung on his every word. Everywhere, people clamor to follow Apollos, I guess, instead of Jesus.
“How could someone that smart, someone who knows so much about the Bible and could debate it, who was so fluent in it, who spurred people on to true, fruitful faith—how could he do what he did? For years?!” I asked my friend as we discussed what was going on with Zacharias. “I can’t process the incongruity of it.”
How can you know about the Living Water and choose to live in the sewer? How could you know about eternal treasure and trade it for some gold and a seat at an earthly table?
Jesus told us. I just couldn’t wrap my head around it.
But now, in 2022, I get it.
Now we are seeing it firsthand.