New research shows that people that rely on Fox News and conservative media bought into the narrative pushed by Trump in the early weeks of the pandemic and treated COVID 19 less seriously than people who got news from other sources. This increased their chances of getting COVID, their family’s chances, and our nation’s health. Not one study – but three studies. It is plain as day anecdotally to everyone – but now it is backed by research that Trump and his supporters amplified sickness, economic devastation, and death. By the way, we lead the world in numbers of infected and deaths.
Are you a fan of Fox News and ultra-conservative news sites? Of Trump? Then you are a big part of the problem – both COVID and the inability to confront the racial outrage in our country. Let me put it this way, Republicans accepting Trump and the group below is like me saying my Catholic Church only had a few bad apples (think sex abuse). COVID and racial discrimination deniers live in the culture of Fox News and the homes they reach. It is up to the people in those homes to force change.
Trump is counting on them to ignore reality – he is counting on you to do the same. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/media/the-data-is-in-fox-news-may-have-kept-millions-from-taking-the-coronavirus-threat-seriously/2020/06/26/60d88aa2-b7c3-11ea-a8da-693df3d7674a_story.html
I cannot throw rocks without looking myself in the eyes as well. In the analogy above, I referenced the Catholic Church. I have made it my intention to not feed into the elements of Catholic extremism or errant application of theological positions held by our church traditions. This is not an easy thing to do. It required change. Long ago, I joined and, after some time, quit the Knights of Columbus. The organization is filled with passionate and good people. The organizational structure, however, is prone to human error and purpose “drift” from its original intentions. Built into its fabric are too much ritual, secrecy, and financial conflict that promotes unhealthy spirituality – in my view. For this Catholic, it was something I had to withdraw from as the organization, in my opinion, overreached in purpose and its attitudes towards people unlike them. That is but one example. The Knights are an arm of the Catholic Chruch that I have stopped supporting. They are good people with a noble purpose. Many are living spiritual lives and practices that, by comparison to my actions, I feel are exemplary role models in Christ-like living. I left them before recent news articles came out with much of the same criticisms (including the National Catholic Register). The only way the Knights will reform some aspects of their organization is if internally, members leave or stop feeding those elements.
I have had meetings with a priest in both my former parish, my current parish, and the parish I have visited when the message is given seemed to cause me spiritual conflict.
As a silly example, a non-threatening one to for sure. I visited an unnamed catholic college campus that also had a seminary and a national shrine on the campus. After having some quiet prayer time at the Shrine, I visited the book store the way out. This store had “Thou shall not steal signs” posted throughout the store. The store was in the middle of nowhere, attracting only believers. The message hit me the wrong way and cost them a sale. That was not enough for me. I spoke with the staff on hand and then sought out a priest and discussed the same. The message in that store next to a national shrine of prayer did not reflect the welcoming and embracing message of Christ. It echoed commercialism and accusation.
I returned home and penned a letter to the university president. He offered to send me an Ignatian Bible that I had an interest in free and promised to revisit the store policy. Whether he did or not, I don’t know. I did not accept the offer. My motive was not to be silent on things small or large. I always purchase something from local bookstores or spiritual places I visit to support the community to have such sites. It cost me thirty minutes or so time, engaging people in a friendly manner and penning a letter on something trivial. Would not a true Christian say something like proceeds from sales supports the national Shrine and other Catholic programming? Scholarships may be available for items that you are interested in but cannot afford. Ask to speak to Father James! Perhaps the store is a victim of desperate sinners stealing bibles or other Catholic merchandise? Should we not be giving it away when we can or at least engaging the less fortunate who might be tempted to steal?
How does this apply to President Trump and the Fox News/conservative news media? Both support many elements of Republican and traditional values and even some Christian values. It applies as we cannot stand quiet on small things or important things when the arms of our political idealogy or faith are hijacked and used to promote harmful idealogy or act in harmful ways. The example I used of thous shall not steal, and the Knights of Columbus is somewhat mundane. My direct conversations with the priest regarding sex abuse scandals and church leadership is not silly.
You can be anti-Trump and Anti-Sex Abuse or other Catholic actions without renouncing conservative or Catholic identity.
I have gratitude for the gift of my faith and the gift of democracy, which includes the complexity of Catholicism (liberal to conservative) and the United States political system (liberal to conservative).
Trump and the extremist right-wing media are outside acceptable spiritual and political practices for any moral and ethical person. That does not mean Republicans and the conservative ideology is evil – but it does mean it’s base must stand-up to its internal rot. You have a choice between two flags.
As Catholics, we must stand up to Sex Abuse and other forms of non-Catholic behaviors by priests and our followers. Many Catholics are moving to an anti-Trump platform now. The Christian evangelical community is also showing signs of movement in this direction. It is too little too late for the current damage done by Trump to our country.
Hopefully, our nation’s healthcare and racial injustice tragedies will lead to our society becoming a more compassionate, just, and democratic nation as the founding fathers envisioned.
Religious beliefs and Political ideology are intertwined but not untangible when necessary. Now is a time where it is essential. Act now, especially if you are a Trump supporter – you are in the best position to counter Trumpian ideology. Research issues from scientific or accurate journalism. Pray with an open mind. Pen a letter. Get to know people outside your social circle. Be inquisitive – how can so many people disagree with me? What do they know that I don’t know?
If you or a family member are on your death bed due to COVID (or any other reason), I hold nothing against you regardless of your political affiliation or religious belief. I pray that you have time to find peace with your loved ones and to reconcile any misgivings as you prepare to exit our known temporal existence. My faith teaches me we all leave this world imperfect. We can be active even while on our death bed by reaching out to family and God to make things right – like the penitent thief who said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” For the rest of us that are healthy and well, more is asked of us today. It is not easy, for sometimes we must confront our own beliefs and the affiliations we hold dear.