Washington Post attacks ‘muscular Christianity’ for its role in coronavirus confusion
Evangelicals were once again targeted by a major newspaper for their contribution to the coronavirus pandemic.
Last week, an op-ed in the New York Times criticized them for their support for President Trump. This week’s attack comes from a Washington Post “Perspective” column that criticizes white evangelical conservatives and their penchant for “muscular Christianity.”
Kristin Kobes Du Mez, the column’s author, identified Rev. Rodney Howard-Browne as a good example of what is wrong with evangelicals.
Howard-Browne was arrested earlier this week after allegedly disobeying a Hillborough County order that bans large events due to the coronavirus outbreak. Video reportedly emerged of his Sunday service that showed upwards of 500 people in attendance.
His lawyer, Mat Staver, told the “Todd Starnes Show” that his client took every measure to ensure the safety of his congregation and the sheriff used the arrest to publicly shame him.
She pointed out that Jonathan Shuttlesworth, a televangelist, came to his defense and said, “If you’re putting out pamphlets and telling everybody to use Purell before they come into the sanctuary … you should just turn in your ministry credentials and burn your church down. You’re a loser. Bunch of pansies. No balls. Got neutered somewhere along the line and don’t even realize it.”
She claimed that “muscular Christianity” could be traced back to the 1970s with James Dobson who she claimed “issued a ‘call to arms,’ a return to ‘traditional,’ God-given masculinity; ‘if this be macho, sexist, chauvinist,’ then he happily admitted he was ‘guilty as charged.’”
She wrote that after the Cold War, the faith practiced “soft patriarchy,” but the post-9/11 world brought back an even stronger macho approach. She even pointed to Jerry Falwell Jr’s decision to open Liberty University amid the crisis.
She pointed out that many evangelical leaders obeyed state orders.
Despite emerging as the mainstream media’s favorite target during the crisis, evangelical leaders have been praised by many followers for their work in keeping the faithful “nourished” in this time of need.
Many of the pastors holding services insist that they are maintaining social distancing and ask why grocery stores and liquor stores should remain open during these orders, and not a church.
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“Go to Costco and Walmart,” Rev. Tony Spell, a Louisiana pastor who was also arrested this week said. “They’re open for business. I’m here offering spiritual guidance for congregants who’ve just lost their jobs and need God more than ever.”
Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse has opened a field hospital in New York City’s Central Park to help the city care for an overflow of coronavirus patients. His organization, which had a similar facility in Italy to help with its outbreak, was criticized by a state senator there who called him an “anti-gay bigot.”
Graham says Samaritan’s Purse is Christian-based and they “come in the name of Jesus.” He said the organization does not discriminate in its treatment of anyone, regardless of their creed or sexual orientation. He said this is a time to put differences aside and work to defeat the pandemic.
Falwell, for his part, has said the media is misrepresenting what is occurring at the school. Politico reported that he told the Virginia school’s news service last week that the university only allowed students to return to their dorms and wrap up the semester by using online courses.
“We think Liberty’s practices will become the model for all colleges to follow in the fall, if coronavirus is still an issue,” he said, according to the report. Falwell also said that there will be accommodations for older faculty who may be at greater risk for the virus.