Unpopular Opinion: Protect Public Health?

Posted on January 12, 2021


Where are the community leaders with a commitment to Public Health? Where are the leaders who can prioritize the well-being of the whole community over sectarian religious belief?

As a member of a non-religious community group that is headed by a Christian pastor, I contacted the leader in August, asking them to follow public health protocols in their role as a minister. They ignored my request.

Weeks later, I contacted a respected member of the group and asked them to join me in advocating for public health. They were assured by the leader that “CDC protocols” are being followed, and that’s “true,” because the CDC has insured the rights of religious groups to endanger the rest of us. Because of the religious exemption, they can claim to follow protocols while continuing to host indoor, mask-less, singing, public gatherings of more than ten people who do not share a home. Unfortunately, CDC guidelines for churches preserve religious privilege over Public Health.

As the infection rate rose, I asked again in December. The leader ignored my request again, even as I explained that my only goal is to protect Public Health, even as I explained that several of my loved ones are suffering from COVID.

The fact that a leader of a community group refuses to engage with a member of the group on a Public Health issue that affects the entire globe has caused me to lose faith in his leadership and leave the group. I cannot be a member of a group led by someone who refuses to be questioned. That is authoritarian leadership, not democratic leadership. He is a man, not a god, and a good man, let alone a good leader, would not disrespect a member of the group–and the public–so blatantly.

When I sent the group notice of my departure, the silence from group members made it clear to me that they, too, value religious privilege over Public Health. This is a huge disappointment.

No one questions the leader’s decision to refuse to follow Public Health protocols. That’s quite cultish, isn’t it? To protect one man’s right to put Public Health at risk? For what? The lives of all community members are put at risk by everyone who refuses to follow protocols, whether they do it at church or drunk at the bar, yet the group member prioritize the man’s right to endanger them–over their own right to life! 

I cannot understand how secular community and government leaders can silently stand by while faith leaders put religious privilege above Public Health and the good of the whole community. Where’s the leadership?

As with the actions we saw by Christians who stormed the US Capitol last week, we enable religious leaders in harming the community when we are silent in the face of decisions they make that endanger human life. The whole world can watch as the Proud Boys stop and kneel in prayer (at about 2 minutes in) in Jesus’ name–right before they storm the Capitol with every intention of terrorizing, torturing, kidnapping, and killing democratically elected representatives and others. Most members of the group who desecrated the seat of democratic government claim Jesus is their savior–and that he supports their brand of terrorism. One other common element in the group? They don’t care about Public Health and refuse to wear masks in public.

In order to return to “normal life,” we need to contain the coronavirus. Vaccination is happening, but vaccines are not 100% protection, and the protection they do offer is minimal until a majority of us receive them. In the mean time, we ALL need to do our part to protect Public Health.

I call on all community members to join me in wearing masks in public, avoiding indoor gatherings with people who do not share our homes, and doing ALL we can to protect every member of the community. We are not all Christians, but we are all HUMAN. It is our COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY (Ujima) to do the right thing for humanity.

Learn More:

A Christian Insurrection

How Catholic Leaders Helped Give Rise to Violence at the U.S. Capitol

Report: White Christian Nationalists Behind Terrorist Assault On U.S. Capitol

A White Christian Nationalist Coup Long in the Making – with Dr. Kelly J. Baker

Man Arrested in Capitol Siege Asked God For Guidance First: “I Never Heard a No”

Hear Katherine Stewart, author of The Power Worshippers, speak at Sunday Assembly Nashville (@ 18 minutes in)

As We Survey the Damage of Yesterday’s Violence, What Will Christian Nationalist Politics Look Like in 2021? New Report Offers Clues

Dr. John Dehlin of Mormon Stories Podcast discusses how bad religion/orthodox Mormonism has groomed us for Trumpism and shows us how to defeat it.

lisa eddy is a writer-for-hire, researcher, educator-for-hire, youth advocate,  musician, and gardener.

On Twitter: @lisa_eddy

On email: lisagay.eddy1@gmail.com