A fourth deadly virus

It has become almost commonplace to suggest that there are two viruses in our midst – the coronavirus and the virus of racism.

In a sermon series I did in June 2020, I suggested that three viruses are ravaging American society today – the coronavirus, racism, and authoritarianism. The latter, of course, is most keenly represented by presidential poseur Donald Trump and others who follow in his footsteps.

Now I am ready to add a fourth. Call it a variant of the other three. Call it, as others have, an “infodemic.” It is an epidemic of misinformation. So much of it now concerns vaccination and masks and the “freedom” that some claim to expose others to the virus with no sense of personal responsibility.

The Republican party has become a master of misinformation on almost all fronts. I certainly would not call all Republican legislators liars, but when you consider the likes of Hawley and Cruz and DeSantis and McConnell and so many others, it becomes difficult not to paint with a broad brush.

No, we can’t talk about race because that’s “critical race theory.” No, we can’t investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection because that might expose traitors in high places. Yes, we believe in individual freedom when it comes to masks, but not when it comes to reproductive rights.

Yes, we believe in local control, unless it conflicts with mandates from Republican-controlled state legislatures. Yes, we believe in free elections, as long as Republicans draw the district lines and enact rules that keep minority (but soon to be majority) folk from casting a ballot.

There used to be a thing called truth, around which we could unify. Then along came Trump and the concept of “alternative facts,” meaning self-serving lies. And downhill we have gone.

We are in a volatile moment in our country’s history, maybe in human history as well. This is a moral crisis. We need a moral revival. What we need, the Rev. William Barber Jr. says, is a moral revolution. It will not come from liars and poseurs.

We need leaders who will unify us, not divide us. We need leaders who seek not to dominate but to persuade; leaders who want to make peace, not war; leaders who stand with the oppressed, not the oppressor; leaders who are humble, not proud; leaders who thirst and hunger for righteousness; leaders who understand that the source of real strength is not the knee you press on someone’s neck. No, real power resides in your alliance with the one in whom we live and move and have our being.

Look it up, as the loony conspiracy theorists say. Start with Acts 17:28 and Revelation 4:11. Only the truth will set us free from these four raging epidemics.

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