Facebook groups are a hotbed of misinformation, particularly private groups. MEMES ARE NOT NEWS but they are an alarmingly large and growing means of spreading false information and stroking the egos of the content creators.
Common phrases anti-maskers use:
Dress codes inside places of business are not at all new.
“No shirt, no shoes, no service” predates my great grandfather. There is no federal law that can force a business to let you onto private property any more than it can force you to let people into our homes who we don't want there.
The numbers are exaggerated! (infographic)
Farts vs. respiratory droplets (100x size difference)
“I feel fine” - many people with COVID never even know they have it and symptoms can take two weeks or longer to present
Exception cards – 100% fake – does not apply to private property anyway
99.5% Survival rate - loads of side affects (lung scarring, strokes, heart damage, pulmonary embolisms, blood clots, cognitive impairment and mental health issues). The data on what it can do is still VERY incomplete. EVERYONE is at risk and ANYONE can die from this.
Why people don't comply
More harm than good
They think they're well – and could very well be
Personality disorders – narcissism (what has society done for ME)
Misinformation and changing information
Choosing what to believe – CDC backpedaling
Low-level openness to doing things differently
Low levels of trust
High levels of neuroticism
Desensitization – “It's been six months. I'm well and I don't know anyone who has gotten sick from this.”
Maintaining a sense of normalcy and control
Resisting BEING controlled – shirts, shoes, BRAs
Personal politics (Us vs. them as opposed to a public health issue)
Following the example of people they consider leaders and authorities
From prosperity doctrine in 2016 to a kind of strange gnosticism (all knowledge is hidden and only the “great man” can bring the truth)
Then it was “draining the swamp.” Now it's “The enemy within.”
Trump supporters don't vet his words. They take them at face value. - “Trump tweets matter”
People believe the typos and misspellings have “hidden meaning.” In short, they read his stupidity as some kind of code that will unlock higher truths. PEOPLE SPEND LOTS OF TIME ANALYZING TWEETS TO FIGURE OUT THE CODE.
Deadheader mentality – following him around like a rock star
Why so few attendees wear masks:
What's said doesn't matter anywhere near as much as who is saying it
People have granted him divinity
As a follower of Trump, like a follower of Christ, you are protected
This mirrors the concept of Evangelical enabling – churches that stayed open, pastors guaranteeing safety/healing
Bottom line: Evangelicals don't actually believe bad information about COVID in larger numbers than other groups. They do, however have a much bigger voice and they have voting power. This is why their opinions are dangerous.
What can evangelicals do?
For starters, you need to decide what the decision to mask or not mask is based on. Is it based on some pointless resolve you've developed watching youtube videos that may or may not be delivering factual information (because more than 1 in 4 do not) or is it based on your biblical mandate to look out for other people? If you wouldn't perform actions that could hurt or kill people you actually love, then don't perform them around anyone your faith MANDATES that you also love. Remember, you've been told by your savior DIRECTLY to love your neighbor as yourself. You've been told not to kill anyone and that means not killing either directly or passively. If you have this virus, don't know, and spread it to others, you are a potential murderer. Period. End of story. Where does that fit in to your gospel of love, peace, and freedom, exactly?
Next, you can simply show the love of your savior by complying when you are asked to mask up, irrespective of your personal opinions, comfort, or reasons you give yourself for not. Are you interested in sharing god's love or will you instead approach people with lovelessness and reveal yourself to truly be nothing more than the annoying clanging gong or tinkling cymbal that Paul warns against in 1 Cor. 13? Because that is all you reveal yourself to be by arguing with, insulting, and berating retail workers and others who ask politely for your cooperation.
Next, you can stand up to pastors and church leaders who preach messaging that includes un-keepable promises of safety and healing and stop allowing your thoughts to be influenced by people who think it's OK to defy what we KNOW to be true about this virus and how it spreads. Do your research on how effective prayer and healing actually are. Episode 19 of this podcast is a good place to start. Take your spiritual cues from leaders who rightly teach the importance of looking out for yourself and those around you. Good luck, by the way, in finding an evangelical community that fits this description. While I won't say it doesn't exist, I will say that it's rare. And if that's true, should you even be bothering to associate with people who are ok with you exposing yourself to a deadly virus just so they can attempt to prove the power of a non-existent deity to save you?
Finally, you can vote people out of power who lie, hide information, and set poor examples. Forget that you're supposed to vote republican because you're an evangelical and for once, listen to your own conscience. Don't let politicians like Donald Trump influence whether or not you or your family are ever exposed to this thing. Elect representatives with an interest in working with experts in the fields of science and medicine and who will vote to fund necessary programs that can spot problems like COVID before they grow to this degree, as opposed to dismantling them.
But since just a small percentage of evangelicals are likely to do any of the above, here's what the rest of us can do:
THANK people for wearing masks, especially if they are initially non-compliant.
DO NOT CONFRONT – speak to store management about your concerns. The reason they aren't wearing a mask is, by and large, because they believe it threatens their freedom. Threatening it further will not bring about compliance or change their views.
Passive response is best - “No one is going to check me out?”
Allow people their opinions, let the business deal with policies
For starters, we can just mask up and shut up. It's not about anyone controlling us. It's about us controlling our own futures and those of others and making sure the quality of our future lives remains as high as possible for as long as possible. It's about all of us getting back to enjoying life the way we used to sooner as opposed to much, much later, surrounded by family and friends, enjoying things we've largely taken for granted until now. It's about making the constant statement that “I care about YOU even though I don't know you, and I think you deserve to have a good, long, pain and disease-free life to as much of an extent as I can facilitate that for you” because THAT is the very definition of loving your neighbor as yourself. We all want the same things so let's simply make sure we do what we can to help as many people as possible have them and enjoy them.
Next, we can be tolerant and vocal at the same time. If you're in a store and someone isn't wearing their mask, keep your distance. Keep your mask on. Let the store enforce or not enforce good public health practices and simply stop shopping in places that don't. Do be vocal to management about your concerns but don't pour gasoline on the fire by confronting individuals. It won't help. At all. It will ONLY firm their resolve and make their cause feel more righteous and justified inside their own heads.
Finally, we, too can and should vote. We have the power to fix a lot of things that are broken surrounding this and it starts by removing the negative influences that currently plague our federal government and stand in the way of people getting well.
All of these things together have the potential to bring about the kind of change our society needs right now. There is a lot of anger, pain, suffering, and hurt in this world and especially in this country at this moment in time. If we simply resolve to be part of the solution and not part of the problem, all the advice I just gave should be simple common sense and we should all WANT to follow it.
What is being asked of us is small but the effect of complying, just for a little while, could be great. Be the example that the anti-maskers and COVID deniers need set for them. Show them what “love your neighbor” really looks like. Show them how easy it is to just live the message of THEIR own holy book. These light afflictions to our personal comfort precede greater long-term rewards. I perceive that my present “sufferings” or as I like to look at them, minor, temporary irritations and dislike of wearing masks and social distancing cannot even compare to the concerts, festivals, dinners out, movie nights, dates, and family gatherings that await us. Understanding that and living the way THEY SHOULD in front of them puts the pressure on evangelicals to live what they believe, but more importantly, it shows what love and respect for our fellow human beings really are and what those things look like in a life that's lived unbound.