Thursday, 29 April 2021

Talibangelical Covidiot News - Death Threats for Advocating Anti-Covid Vaccine

Jamie Aten, Disaster psychologist, author and evangelical
Death threats for advocating anti-Covid vaccines.
For evangelical leader Jamie Aten, advocating for vaccines led to a death threat

An evangelical Christian who urged his fellow evangelicals to get the anti-covid vaccine says he has been getting death threats and other hate messages from his fellow evangelical Christians.

Jamie Aten is executive director of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College and his work has generally been praised, but when he began urging his fellow evangelicals to get vaccinated, things turned ugly.

Among the emails he reported when he filed his complaint to the sheriff’s office in DuPage County, Illinois, was one telling him his work on vaccines was "punishable by death".

Another, received after he spoke to the New York Times about the importance of getting vaccinated, warned him that encouraging white evangelicals would "eventually lead to the murdering of all mankind". It continued with the veiled threat, "If I knew my stuff, I would know not to encourage people to get vaccinated because that’s what’s going to take down humanity more".

The importance of persuading white evangelical leaders to get a vaccine was highlighted by a recent Pew Research poll which showed that 37% of white evangelicals would not have the vaccine - one of the highest levels of vaccine scepticism for any American demographic. Given the large number of white evangelicals in the USA, this figure means it will be difficult to reach the required level for herd immunity to be effective in controlling the virus, so America will always have a high level of infections and the pandemic will last much longer and claim many more lives than it need.

Other surveys have shown that White Evangelical Christians are the least concerned about how their behaviour impacts on other people when it comes to holding super-spreader events in churches, wearing face masks and observing the social-distancing regulations, so it is hardly surprising that they are also least concerned about acting as a reservoir for the coronavirus and providing a means for new varieties to evolve, so long as they aren't slightly inconvenienced in any way.

Last year, under Trump's leadership, face-masks became a badge of tribal loyalty for Americans, like a MAGA hat. Now it seems a vaccination is also a sign of tribal loyalties.

But perhaps the most instructive thing in this story is not the stupidity of those, mostly Trumpanzee evangelical Christians, who are campaigning against the vaccines, but their quick resort to threats, like good fundamentalist Christians when people disagree with them.

Having just posted a slightly tongue-in-cheek item on Twitter about science flying a helicopter over the surface of Mars and asking what equivalent achievements religions had to matched it, I can understand how Aten feels, as I have also had veiled threats about what their imaginary friend is going to do to me if I don't agree with them and credit the work done by religious scientist to religion, not science. Apparently, they believe that science done by religious scientists is materially different to that done by non-religious scientists, so should be credited to religion, not science.

But Aten has chosen his bed-fellows himself. He might like to consider what it is about their mutual religion that can be used to excuse their selfishness and the threats of violence against anyone who dares to disagree with them. He chose to jump into bed with that particular rat pack so he shouldn't be surprised when they act entirely in character (with apologies to any rats who may have been offended by that metaphor). Laudable though his efforts are, he should be asking himself why they are evoking such a response in his co-religionists.

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