On the BioLogos Forum, Matthew Pevarnik has an article discussing his frustration with conspiracy theories concerning the COVID-19 pandemic, especially originating from Christians. He cites an especially egregious piece (found here) where the “minister” has a dream that Dr. Anthony Fauci turns into a “rat”, because… something… something… plot against the president… something… Matthew says, “This basically made me livid, with basically encouraging Christians to be suspicious of rats in the White House- which included probably one of the most important voices for Christians to listen to in the nation.” Yeah, Matthew, me too.
Right now, on my Facebook feed, are some Christian friends who are promoting and spreading some video that purports to prove the Chinese manufactured COVID-19 as some kind of bio-weapon. Sheesh! Why are some Christians so prone to conspiracy theories? What drives that tendency? Sometimes it’s harmless, but right now it can have serious consequences. According to this Washington Post article security for Dr. Fauci had to be increased because he was facing growing threats to his personal safety. That so-called “prophetic dream” is contributing to that atmosphere of threat to health officials like Dr. Fauci.
The World Health Organization has a whole myth-busting page dedicated to false claims about the coronavirus. Look over that list – how many of those myths have you seen being spread by Christians?
It’s a sad truth that any kind of crisis seems to spread a pandemic of misinformation. In the 80s, 90s, and 2000s we saw the spread of dangerous lies about Aids – from the belief that the HIV virus was created by a government laboratory to the idea that the HIV tests were unreliable, and especially the spectacularly unfounded theories of how it could be treated. These claims increased risky behavior and exacerbated the crisis. And so with the coronavirus crisis, misinformation abounds, including everything from what caused the outbreak to how you can prevent becoming ill.
But even seemingly innocuous ideas could lure people into a false sense of security, discouraging them from adhering to government guidelines, and eroding trust in health officials and other organizations that are based on science.
Christians, of all people, shouldn’t be part of the spread of misinformation. They just shouldn’t be. We are supposed to be people of truth – aren’t we supposed to be following He who is TRUTH? I get the tendency to just put one’s head down and avoid confrontation. But don’t. Do your best to correct misinformation and encourage people to follow the science and not the emotions or the politics.
I believe it’s our sacred responsibility.