In today’s pandemic selfishness file, a Louisiana pastor who keeps violating state coronavirus-control orders and subjecting the public to greater risk of contagion insists that he and his flock have the right to do whatever they want, their neighbors be darned:
District Judge Eboni Johnson-Rose denied Pastor Tony Spell’s motion to dismiss six criminal counts against him.
…“You just ruled against God,” Spell said outside the 19th Judicial District courthouse. “Get ready for the judgment of God.”
The pastor learned of the ruling through his attorneys, because his refusal to wear a mask barred him from the courthouse.
…“If you’re afraid of the virus, stay away from us,” Spell said in an interview after the ruling. “As for us and our house, we’re going to serve God. We’re going to be bold and fearless and have faith” [Harrison Golden, “Judge: Charges Still Stand Against Pastor Tony Spell for Violating Covid-19 Crowd Limits,” KELO-TV, 2021.01.26].
I’m surprised that I, an atheist, have to lecture a Christian clergyman about selfishness. But if your prescription for controlling a pandemic is simply to tell those who are concerned about the disease to stay away from those who aren’t concerned, you are shifting all burden of responsibility to one portion of the community (and that portion remains a strong majority). Then you are undermining that majority’s ability to act effectively against the pandemic by prescribing a response that you make impossible through your selfish irresponsibility. You tell everyone else to stay away from you, but then after you go to church, you and your followers go to the grocery store, the school, the gas station, every place you want, meaning that the only way we could follow your advice is if we do absolutely nothing while you do absolutely everything you want.
Hey, preacher man—what ever happened to doing unto others as you’d have others do to you? At the very least, if you’re going to tell the rest of us to stay away from you, you have to at least reciprocate and stay away from us.
Don’t fall for the pastor’s spell of selfishness; read and follow the oft-cited “Christian Statement on Science for Pandemic Times” from BioLogos, an organization founded by Human Genome Project and National Institutes of health leader Dr. Francis Collins. It calls on Christians to respond to the pandemic by wearing masks, correcting misinformation, getting vaccinated, working for justice, and praying. BioLogos roots its call to mask up, keep our distance, and respect the law in science and Scripture:
Wear masks in indoor public spaces and follow other physical distancing rules given by public health officials (1 Peter 2:13-17), unless there are underlying health conditions. Yes, wearing a mask is uncomfortable and awkward, but the evidence is clear that masks reduce the chance we will transmit the disease to others. Mask rules are not experts taking away our freedom, but an opportunity to follow Jesus’ command to love our neighbors as ourselves (Luke 6:31) [BioLogos, “A Christian Statement on Science for Pandemic Times,” retrieved 2021.01.26].
Pastor Spell gets some attention with his splashy public posturing as a warrior for Jesus, but the BioLogos statement does a better job of calling Christian soldiers to march onward for the good of the community.