Religious-right supporters of President Donald Trump have been adding their voices to the right-wing protests calling on governors to “reopen” states by easing restrictions on businesses and public gatherings, while deflecting responsibility for the spread of the virus and the economic consequences away from Trump. Christian nationalist political operative David Lane joined the fray in over the weekend in a column for Charisma decrying “unelected government bureaucrats, selected ‘experts,’ doomsday soothsayers, computer models and a frenzied media” for what he characterized as “overreach” in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Lane devoted much of his column to reprinting something written April 18 by Steve Riggle, a Houston, Texas-based pastor. Unlike many of the right-wing protests, which initially targeted Democratic governors, Riggle had harsh words for the very conservative governor of Texas, Greg Abbott:
Liberate Texas now. Time to reopen Texas. We have been patient, even though every projection of the impact of the coronavirus has been grossly wrong. We were told to flatten the curve because there was no cure, even though a very small number actually die from the virus in comparison with the population and other diseases and causes of death we live with on a daily basis. Now, over 22,000,000 people have lost their jobs in one month … and there is more economic fallout to follow [for example, 43% can’t afford to go more than one month without a paycheck, and 24% have less than $250 in their bank accounts preceding payday.] In our county, in the same time period, we had five coronavirus-related deaths and 15 suicides.
We waited for our governor to tell us he was ending the restrictions that have ruined our economy and our livelihoods. Instead, he made an announcement about an announcement and appointed a task force to further delay getting everyone back to work when he could have restored everything with a stroke of his pen. Since our governor put the restrictions in place by his edict, he should have simply removed them with some guidelines by the same process. Shockingly, his big action was to tell those struggling with mental and emotional health issues to go to the state parks with a mask on rather than opening the churches and suggesting they seek help there. He also decided to allow some elective surgeries since the hospital systems in Texas are losing money because so few are actually in the hospital. And he allowed retail businesses to open up for curbside shopping. … He didn’t say where the change rooms were, presumably in your car or on the sidewalk.
Enough of the ridiculous!
Riggle wrote that Texas should be opened up based on five words and assertions:
We have Rights; we are Americans who have a Constitution and a Bill of Rights.
We are Rational. Consider the following facts from the Texas DSHS website as of April 17: Population of Texas: 29,000,000 (29 million). Tested for COVID-19: 169,536 (.0055 or half of 1%). Positive for COVID-19: 17,371 (.0006 or 6/100 of 1%). Hospitalized for COVID: 1,522 (.00005 or 5/1000 of 1%). Deaths due to COVID: 428 (.000014 or 1/1000 of 1%). [Editor’s note: Texas updates its state statistics here.]
You could read the data and interpret it that ‘protecting some’ has actually become ‘needlessly punishing all.’
We take Risks. We are Texans who stand tall and realize that life has some risks. That should be our choice, not the mandate of the state attempting to protect us from perceived harm.
We understand Responsibilities. We are citizens who will do the responsible thing. Those who are at risk should stay home. Those who are afraid should stay home.
We will Resist, because it is our right to do so. We are free people. Unless an overwhelming number of people let our officials know that we are done with their mandates and edicts we will continue to be controlled by them.
Lane repeats a story told by Riggle that imagines people being in Heaven and hearing the biblical figures of Moses, David, and Gideon regale people with tales of their faith and feats of courage—and then asks listeners what they will say when it is their turn.
“Out of 6,000 years of recorded history God has placed us here, in 2020,” wrote Lane. “This is our time … What story are we going to tell?”