In the USA there have been tens of thousands of new cases every day. With new cases increasing in many states, thousands of deaths every day, bringing the total to 95,087 deaths at the time I wrote this article.
President Donald Trump has even been encouraging to ‘liberate’ their states and break public health orders. “Save your second amendment” he tweeted back in mid-April.
As shocking as that might be, it is the behaviour of many Christians and in particular Christian leaders in the USA that voted him in that saddens me most about this whole pandemic response.
Civil Rights response
Prominent Christian leaders including, Pastors Beni Johnson, Greg Locke and Evangelist Robby Dawkins, Pastors of very large congregations in the United States with large numbers of followers, have all encouraged civil disobedience, all encouraging their followers to stand up for YOUR civil rights and break state public health orders.
Dawkins is a particularly baffling one. He has encouraged Churches in the USA to break public health orders and meet in person, even though his own father died of Covid-19.
Civil rights seems to be the main argument. It is “your civil rights are being trampled upon, so you should demand your rights”. Forget about the health of the elderly or the vulnerable, “I have my rights, I want to do what I want to do and to hell with anyone else”.
It’s the gun argument all over again, forget about victims of mass shootings, I have a right as an American to bear arms, I want to keep my gun and forget anyone else.
I wish we could just be honest about this whole debate
Then some are saying it is great for the economy to open up. I am sure it will be great for the economy if they just allow everywhere to open and everyone is allowed to do what they want to do. However, would you like to know what else is great for the economy? Just because slavery exists, doesn’t mean we should do it.
Sweden had no lockdown whatsoever; I am sure it was great for their economy, yet they now have the most deaths per capita of Covid-19.
I don’t think people care about the economy as long as they are not affected.
Kids die of malnutrition every day, most of the world is unmoved by that. However, if it was in your kids’ school, I bet you would be moved by that. This is about people wanting to do what they want to do, open up, make money, meet people in church and in my case, I want to be able to go and watch football again.
On the other side of the coin, at home, the whole border issue and keeping it closed is all about politician’s rights to look good in front of their people, not public health.
Queensland Premier Anastasia Palaszczuk has a state election coming up in October and knows very well she can score political points by painting New South Welshman as ‘diseased southerners’ and must keep the border closed to keep them out.
Opinion polls in her state support her with thousands of Queenslanders in support of keeping the border closed.
Now being a New South Welshman and a mad Rugby League fan who has been to Suncorp Stadium many times wearing Sky Blue, I know perfectly well that playing the ‘diseased’ New South Welshman mantra in Queensland is a good political move for her.
At the beginning it was a good move to close the borders, cases were doubling every three days because people were travelling, and the virus was spreading. I understood that argument.
However, with 20 people in hospital in New South Wales for Covid-19 and only 4 in Queensland, that public health argument really does not wash. Plus, why does she allow Queenslanders to travel to New South Wales, (which living on the border I know for a fact they do) if she is so concerned about Covid-19 cases in New South Wales?
It makes absolutely no sense to keep the borders closed. I have seen people park their cars on the New South Wales side of the border and walk across into Queensland and the police can’t stop them. Keeping the borders closed is futile.
The point is, her pandemic response is about herself and it is the same with everyone else. It is largely based on how much it affects me and my rights over the rights of someone else.
As Christians that is not the example Jesus set for us
Jesus never went around demanding his rights, in fact he said to give them up.
He said, “deny yourself” (Matthew chapter 16 verses 24-26) and “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew chapter 5 verse 44).
Nothing Jesus ever did was about himself, but the Father’s work in him.
How does God want us to respond to this pandemic?
I believe the answer is different for each of us. What we must do is forget about ourselves and focus on the work He is going to do in us.
Ben Kruzins is the Campus Pastor of The Hub Baptist Church in Ocean Shores on the North Coast of New South Wales. He is also a Journalism graduate who has written articles in The Canberra Times and The Sydney Morning Herald.