Mayor De Blasio, Coronavirus and Anti-Christian Hostility

“The endurance of darkness is the preparation for great light.” — St. John of the Cross

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio welcomes medical members of the U.S. Navy who have volunteered from across the country to join the U.S. Army’s 44th Medical Brigade at the Jacob K. Javits Center on April 5, 2020, in New York.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio welcomes medical members of the U.S. Navy who have volunteered from across the country to join the U.S. Army’s 44th Medical Brigade at the Jacob K. Javits Center on April 5, 2020, in New York. (photo: Photo by BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP via Getty Images)

There’s been an alarming increase in anti-Christian rhetoric by pundits trying to make hay while the world suffers because of the new coronavirus.

In a recent New York Times opinion piece (“The Religious Right’s Hostility to Science is Crippling Our Coronavirus Response”) Katherine Stewart wrote:

There are a number of ways in which the religious right bears some responsibility for the current incompetence in our national response. First and foremost the movement promotes an anti-science culture that rejects the evidence of science, rejects expertise and critical thinking, and that has obviously contributed to our ability to address this issue and this crisis in an evidence-based fashion. Misinformation is rife in these sort of hyper-conservative and highly politicized religious communities that were all in for Trump.

But the confused, frenetic and delayed reactions of secularist governments like New York City have greatly and shortsightedly contributed to this crisis. Are they all secretly religious right-wing bigots, as Stewart insists?

Last month, Rev. Franklin Graham recruited 72 doctors, nurses and other medical personnel for Samaritan's Purse, an evangelical humanitarian group, to help create a 68-bed facility in Central Park. The venture is operated in partnership with New York’s Mount Sinai Health System.

Most New Yorkers were grateful for Graham’s generosity and Christian concern. But not all.

Critics like playwright Paul Rudnick, State Senator Brad Hoylman and Mayor Bill DeBlasio attacked Graham for his Christian desire to help those in need.

Rudnick said Graham was a “vicious homophobe.” Hoylman called the pastor a “notorious anti-gay bigot.” De Blasio insisted in his faux fury that, “We’re going to send over people from the Mayor’s Office to monitor” the pop-up hospital.

“I said immediately to my team that we had to find out exactly what was happening. Was there going to be an approach that was truly consistent with the values and the laws in New York City, that everyone would be served and served equally?”

De Blasio also threatened to “permanently” shut down any church that stays open during this crisis. Of course, such a threat is unconstitutional. However, though he said he has proof that some ultra-Orthodox synagogues are violating the order, he never mentioned any specific Christians who are similarly violating the health guidelines.

In March, President Trump held a National Day of Prayer in response to the pandemic, for which he was roundly mocked.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) got into a Twitter war after she attacked President Trump's decision to put Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the coronavirus response. On Feb. 27, 2020, she tweeted, “Mike Pence literally does not believe in science. It is utterly irresponsible to put him in charge of US coronavirus response as the world sits on the cusp of a pandemic. As governor, Pence’s science denial contributed to one of the worst HIV outbreaks in Indiana’s history. He is not a medical doctor. He is not a health expert. He is not qualified nor positioned in any way to protect our public health.”

Yet again, AOC doesn’t have her facts straight. The 2015 HIV outbreak to which she mindlessly referred was then Governor Pence rerouting HIV testing funds away from Planned Parenthood who lied in official documents saying they were the only organization in the area doing such testing. In reality, there were at least 10 others. Pence also refused to endorse in a needle exchange for heroin addicts giving the program a 30-day moratorium to study the situation.

All in all, I think this rash of anti-Christian hostility is a positive sign. As Christ reminds us (Matthew 5:10-12): “Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires; the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to them! Happy are you when people insult you and persecute you and tell all kinds of evil lies against you because you are my followers. Be happy and glad, for a great reward is kept for you in heaven.”