In which the president of a major US seminary publicly celebrates the death of tens of thousands of people
I am so, so tired of the nonsense
[Edit: thousands of deaths, not tens of thousands. Thanks Sam for pointing this out.]
My first reaction upon seeing this tweet was an anger that found itself somewhere between righteous and self-righteous.
Everything about this lawsuit has been ridiculous, from the conspiracy theories that made a mandate necessary in the first place to the fact that Gorsuch wasn’t even wearing a mask during the session.
And of course Al Mohler is celebrating it — this is the man who insists voting for Joe Biden “is beyond [his] moral imagination”, who seems to think having to bake cakes for gay weddings is an attack on the most “fundamental liberties” that outweighs stuff like racism or poverty or corruption. (You can forgive Mohler for not understanding actual forms of oppression — he’s been left with no way of learning about them after he banned “intersectionality” and “critical race theory” from the seminary he leads.)
So I am not surprised that Mohler thinks some conspiracy theorists’ “freedom of conscience” outweighs the death and long-term disabilities that are going to happen to tens of thousands of people as a result of this ruling.
But at the end of the day, there are only so many ways to say “this is nonsense.”
Yes, Mohler’s “religious liberty means you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to” stance is incoherent.
No, there isn’t an actual case for a Christian exemption from the vaccine.
Sure, Mohler’s scholarly works are poorly argued drivel that probably wouldn’t muster a B in a typical undergraduate course.
But none of this is supposed to matter.
You aren’t supposed to have to be a successful scholar to live a good life. Your ability to love your neighbor isn’t supposed to hinge on your ability to do math. This sort of misinformation breaks something really basic about how society is supposed to function.
So after all the anger, self-righteousness, eye-rolling, and frustration fade away, I guess I’m just… sad.
I am tired, and I am sad, and I am tired of being sad.
There are people who are being told directly by voices they trust — pastors, news sources, family members — that the vaccines have killed tens of thousands of Americans, that climate change isn’t real, that critical race theory is “Marxism”, that Biden didn’t really win the election.
There are others who’ve misplaced their trust in people like Mohler, who might not *affirm* the conspiracy theories, but treat them as “real debates” that “reasonable people can disagree on.” (Letting women preach in church, on the other hand, would be to fail a “looming test.” Because reasons.)
And when you’re a grad student trained in statistics it’s fun to laugh at how utterly nonsensical the “evidence” for these theories are, but it’s harder to imagine how a person who hasn’t thought about math since high school is supposed to tell the difference between genuine research and gross charlatanism.
I am having a lot of trouble stomaching the fact that the people who are genuinely just evil — the Tucker Carlsons and Donald Trumps — have so successfully convinced well-meaning people to sincerely believe them. How can we blame people for not caring about their carbon footprints if they don’t believe climate change is even real? How can we blame them for not loving their neighbors when their pastors, the people they trust with their very souls, tell them masks don’t save lives (or worse, express a lack of faith?) Or for dismantling a democracy they’ve been falsely led to believe was already gone?
I don’t know.
I’m going to try to have a little more grace and a little more patience for the people who are stuck in these webs. I’m going to think a little bit harder about ways I can use the knowledge I have to help my friends and neighbors get un-stuck.
But for the assholes who spin them I have nothing but curses.
For more of this, consider subscribing to receive All of it Again directly in your inbox! For some example relevant curses from Jesus and the prophet Isaiah, see below!
If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!
Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter.
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
and clever in their own sight.