Over the past few years, Covid cemented a fracture occurring across American churches.
Some of the biggest evangelical leaders, from pastors to researchers to theologians to writers to non-profit directors, used their platform to shame and censor anyone who disagreed with the official government narrative about Covid during the early days of the pandemic.
Megan Basham of The Daily Wire has the receipts in this absolutely brilliant piece of reporting.
We're gonna go through the details of church leaders who did the bidding of former NIH director Francis Collins, a leftist scientist who oversaw the NIH as it was funding gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses in Wuhan – a man who, according to leaked emails, was scrambling to squash lab-leak theories alongside Anthony Fauci to make sure he didn't get in trouble.
Before we do that, however, see if you recognize any of the names on this list:
- Ed Stetzer
- Russell Moore
- Joe Carter
- N.T. Wright
- Tim Keller
- Rick Warren
- David French
For many American Christians, that's a pretty sizable chunk of the authoritative voices you grew up listening to on topics of theology and culture. These are the supposed big wigs – the intelligentsia of the evangelical world. These are men who are supposed to be seeking the heart of the Father as they proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a broken world.
And yet when a virus with a lethality rate that's a fraction of a fraction came to our shores, they became the puppets of a government health leader who wanted everyone to believe his own way of truth and salvation.
I can't put Megan's entire article here (please, go read it all), but here are a few highlights from each of the above names.
First, a profile of the man these church leaders promoted, former NIH director Francis Collins:
- "He has not only defended experimentation on fetuses obtained by abortion, he has also directed record-level spending toward it."
- "He further has endorsed unrestricted funding of embryonic stem cell research, personally attending President Obama's signing of an Executive Order to reverse a previous ban on such expenditures."
- "Even when directly asked about how genetic testing has led to the increased killing of Down Syndrome babies in the womb, Collins deflected..."
- "When it comes to pushing an agenda of racial quotas and partiality based on skin color, Collins is a member of the Left in good standing, speaking fluently of "structural racism" and 'equity' rather than equality."
- "To the most holy of progressive sacred cows — LGBTQ orthodoxy — Collins has been happy to genuflect."
- "Under his watch, the NIH launched a new initiative to specifically direct funding to 'sexual and gender minorities.'"
How does a lefty leftist like this goober become so well promoted by Christian leaders who are supposed to be aware of the abuse of power, man's sinful nature, and how to discern truth from lies?
Why, he said he was a believer and he looked like a nice guy, so of course they had to push his propaganda!
Now for some tidbits on the church leaders from the article:
- Ed Stetzer - "In September, Wheaton College dean [and Billy Graham Center director] Ed Stetzer interviewed National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins on his podcast, 'Church Leadership' about why Christians who want to obey Christ's command to love their neighbors should get the Covid vaccine and avoid indulging in misinformation."
- Russell Moore - "While a webinar featuring Collins and then-ERLC-head Russell Moore largely centered, again, on the importance of pastors convincing church members to get vaccinated, the discussion also moved on to the topic of masks. With Moore nodding along, Collins held up a basic, over-the-counter cloth square, 'This is not a political statement,' he asserted. 'This is not an invasion of your personal freedom…This is a life-saving medical device.'"
- Joe Carter - "As with [Christianity Today], one article by Gospel Coalition editor Joe Carter linked the reasonable hypothesis that the virus might have been human-made with wilder QAnon fantasies. It then lectured readers that spreading such ideas would damage the church's witness in the world."
- N.T. Wright – "...Collins participated in an interview with celebrated theologian N.T. Wright. During a discussion where the NIH director once again trumpeted the efficacy of cloth masks, the pair warned against conspiracies, mocking 'disturbing examples' of churches that continued meeting because they thought 'the devil can't get into my church' or 'Jesus is my vaccine.' Lest anyone wonder whether Wright experienced some pause over lending his reputation as a deep Christian thinker to Caesar's agent, the friends finished with a guitar duet."
- Tim Keller – "Former megachurch pastor Tim Keller's joint interview with Collins included a digression where the pair agreed that churches like John MacArthur's, which continued to meet in-person despite Covid lockdowns, represented the 'bad and ugly' of good, bad, and ugly Christian responses to the virus."
- Rick Warren – "Warren and Collins spent their interview jointly lamenting the unlovingness of Christians who question the efficacy of masks, specifically framing it as a matter of obedience to Jesus. 'Wearing a mask is the great commandment: love your neighbor as yourself,' the best-selling author of 'The Purpose-Driven Life' declared, before going on to specifically argue that religious leaders have an obligation to convince religious people to accept the government's narratives about Covid."
- David French – "[In October], influential evangelical pundit David French deemed Collins a "national treasure" and his service in the NIH 'faithful.'"
Especially given what even mainstream media is reporting about the nature and origin of the virus, the leaked emails showing Collins' suppression and propaganda efforts, and the horribly negative societal effects of mandates and lockdowns, you'd think at least one of these Christian men would say they'd been duped.
Since news began breaking months ago that Collins and Fauci intentionally used their media connections to conspire to suppress the lab-leak theory, none of the individuals or organizations in this story has corrected their records or asked Collins publicly about his previous statements. Nor have they circled back with him to inquire on record about revelations the NIH funded gain-of-function coronavirus research in Wuhan. They also haven't questioned him on the increasing scientific consensus that cloth masks were never very useful.
When the pandemic happened, many Christians, like myself, saw who was really following the data, urging wisdom and discernment, standing up for their neighbors (which includes their rights and freedoms), and above all, was preaching the Gospel even under threat of government fines and imprisonment.
I also saw the men who agreed with every talking point of the secular world – the pastors who nodded along with every screed from big government, Big Pharma, and corporate America. And while I prayed for them as my brothers and sisters, the spell of their authority and expertise was broken.
But there is an upside to this travesty and dereliction of duty.
During this time, I began to listen much more attentively to pastors like John MacArthur, Owen Strachan, Douglas Wilson, and Voddie Baucham. Beyond that, I found scores of average men and women like blogger Samuel Sey who were taking up the mantle of the priesthood of believers – people who were willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of the truth.
The Church has had many examples of times where the "experts" in theology – the Christian intelligentsia – have been blind to their own syncretism, complacency, and sin, and where God has used humble people from humble origins to shame their pride and so-called wisdom. In fact, the Apostle Paul promised that this is part of the equation.
"For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God." - 1 Corinthians 1:26-29
It was clear to me that many among the church leaders I once listened to were actually milquetoast, wishy-washy men who have sullied their Christian worldviews with syncretistic beliefs from the religions of secular humanism and Wokeism. Unsurprisingly, these men were often the same leaders who have spent the past 5 years bashing brothers and sisters in Christ for voting for Trump.
I suspect that millions more like me saw through the fancy church buildings, the bestselling books, the big attendance numbers, and the silver-tongued one-liners that made so many of these Christian leaders popular. All of a sudden, they were jesters acting on behalf of the government, just as churches in 1930s Germany once were, chastising those who would dare defiance for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven.
All of a sudden, the veneer fell away, like the wall of a house collapsing and exposing the rot you've suspected for so long.