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Recently, we’ve been talking about Patrice Lewis, a Christian COVID denialist.

In her recent piece, “It’s not about COVID, it’s about control,” she cited a number of claims that her tribe likes to make in these situations. Christian claims always have a pedigree, if our two current series, Journey Into Hell and 1st-Century Fridays, are anything to go by.

Let’s check out her specific claims, and see if we can, where she’s getting them and why she cherishes them.

COVID denialist claim #1: Joe Biden ‘moved too quickly’

In Patrice Lewis’s September 17 post, her first claim reveals her extremist politics:

All the reductions in freedoms we’ve undergone in the last few decades have ratcheted up astronomically since the COVID scare. But with Biden’s recent vaccine mandates, he may have just thrown the frog into the boiling water. In other words, he moved too quickly.

Lots of people have said they would never get the vaccine for a variety of reasons. But now that Biden has imposed mandates, there are screams of outrage[.]

In reality, Donald Trump knew way ahead of time that COVID-19 was coming our way. He also knew how bad it would be. However, he did nothing whatsoever to stop it.

Bob Woodward recorded Trump talking about it.

On the recording, Trump told this journalist that he’d decided to treat COVID-19 like it was no big deal. At the same time, Trump admitted that he knew the truth. He knew COVID-19 was “more deadly than you, you know, even your strenuous cases of flu.”

However, Trump consistently portrays the pandemic as a sinister Democratic plot. He even predicted that the pandemic would vanish after the 2020 election. That rhetoric soon infested white evangelicalism.

Thus, a COVID denialist would perceive literally anything Joe Biden did to combat the pandemic as “mov[ing] too quickly.” In fact, Washington Post ran an editorial on September 20. There, they advised American business owners to do more now now NOW to get workers vaccinated.

So in reality, American leaders are not moving fast enough.

COVID denialist claim #2: Vaccine mandates ‘could tank the economy’

Right after making the first claim, Patrice Lewis cites three wingnut faux-news links that support her case:

  • If Truckers Like Me Won’t Comply, Biden’s Vaccine Mandate Could Tank The Economy” (The Federalist, September 14, 2021). Writer claims that some vast number of long-distance truckers hold COVID-19 denialist views and will lose their jobs. OH NOES! Goods will no longer get moved in a timely fashion! He cites no real sources for his ideas.
  • Yeah, about that 100 Employee mandate” (Eaton Rapids Joe, a blog I’ve never heard of, September 13, 2021). This writer clearly buys into Donald Trump’s election lies. He claims that large numbers of workers have already quit or been fired over vaccine refusal. He also makes the assertion about truckers. Like that first writer, he cites no sources.
  • Teachers Leaving Schools Over Medical Tyranny and CRT Now Have HIGH Market Value (The Liberty Daily, an ultra-wingnut faux-news site, September 13, 2021). The site is filled with right-wing social-media links and MyPillow ads. This writer quotes a tweet claiming that teachers who lose their jobs will totally find “MILLIONS of parents who want their kids educated by someone like you.” Writer claims vaccine mandates will create “advancing segregation.” That’s ironic considering evangelicals’ entrenched love of segregation. He wants “a real world variation of Galt’s Gulch, without the elitism.” (LOL, as if.) Like the other two, he cites no sources.


The reality of claim #2

None of these linked sites contain reputable news or hold their writers to journalistic standards. They’re literally just bloggers bellowing to the tribe.

In reality, we’re finding that the mandates may be easing vaccine hesitancy and refusal. We have two huge companies, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, that report (in that Washington Post article) almost nobody actually refused the vaccine once push came to shove.

Ironically, Christian-owned and -dominated businesses may face the biggest losses. An earlier Washington Post article tells us that Houston Methodist Hospital suspended 178 workers on June 7th for refusing the vaccine. Twenty-five suspended workers chose to get vaccinated. Thus, they returned to work. Only 153 workers lost their jobs rather than get vaccinated, out of 24,947 workers total. That’s 0.61% of their workforce. More importantly, nursing attracts more wingnuts than other industries, as does education. (Nursing and teaching are two professions for white evangelical women that the tribe usually allows).

Personally, I’d love to see these wingnut teachers take jobs educating white evangelical children. Very quickly, those teachers will discover that white evangelicals tend to make very poor-quality employers.

PRRI, a reputable survey house, has consistently found that white evangelicals as a group tend to resist vaccination the hardest. And they always have.

COVID denialist claim #3: The vaccine’s supposed dangers

In her WND post, Patrice Lewis moves smoothly on to her third false claim:

Why are these health care professionals refusing the vaccine? What are they seeing? As it turns out, they’re seeing thousands of people hospitalized with serious and life-threatening complications directly correlated with the vaccine. [. . .] In short, they’re learning the vaccines do no good and much harm.

Her linked source:

The doctor in question, Mollie James, is from Iowa. She volunteered to help with COVID in New York. And then, she lost that gig over vaccine refusal. So she’s a standard anti-vaxxer wingnut. And she’s been making the rounds in right-wing-nutjob media outlets. Yes, she is their current darling: one of the few actual doctors willing to take COVID denialism to its outer limits.

James claims that some vast conspiracy keeps doctors quiet about all the supposedly horrific side effects of the COVID vaccine. One can see why such a claim appeals to Christian wingnuts. They say much the same thing about Creationism.

However, she offers not one bit of support for any of her breathtaking claims.

Once more for the wingnuts in the back

This claim, too, is false. According to the CDC, vaccinated people:

  • Are far less likely to contract COVID-19.
  • Won’t get as sick as unvaccinated people who contract COVID-19.
  • Are far less likely to get hospitalized if they do contract COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the CDC tells us:

Studies so far show that vaccinated people are 8 times less likely to be infected and 25 times less likely to experience hospitalization or death.

We also learn that the adverse reactions hotline got 7,899 reports of deaths related to the COVID vaccine. However, when these deaths were fully investigated, not one of them so far has actually been found to be related. Some side effects have been reported, some very serious. But they’re nothing compared to the risk a COVID denialist runs in refusing the jab.

So no, these “health care professionals” ain’t seeing shit. They’re just parroting right-wing talking points. And unfortunately, wingnuts lie constantly. So I don’t believe a word of this without proof. 

And claim #4: OMG India! Australia! LOOKIE!

Undeterred by reality, Patrice Lewis plunges into her fourth big claim:

If they wanted to get the pandemic “under control,” they would universally prescribe ivermectin and the “pandemic” would be over within weeks, as happened recently in India.

In service to this false claim, she links two articles:

The India claim might derive from a May post from Gateway Pundit, a faux-news site that white evangelicals like. Unfortunately, I found evidence contradicting this claim within seconds:

Epidemiological data from other countries that recommended ivermectin suggests that ivermectin didn’t slow down the rate of new infection. As of May 2021, there isn’t reliable clinical evidence indicating that ivermectin is beneficial in preventing or curing COVID-19. The article doesn’t provide new evidence supporting a causal link between the recommendation to use ivermectin and the decrease of cases.

We could say the same of the Australia claim. It may come from an April 2021 thing from Sky News. It suffers from the same flaws as the India claim.

Of course, nobody’s ever found any evidence to support the notion that ivermectin can help humans fight viral diseases. It’s used to kill parasites. Even if someone uses the human formulation of the drug, it’s just not an antiviral medicine at all.

Where these COVID-19 denialis claims come from

Authoritarians hate to be proven wrong. However, they hate losing dominance the most.

Sure, their internal rhetoric centers around how lovely it is to be a literal slave to their god. Jesus himself commands Christians to completely submit to literally anyone and everyone who makes demands of them. And yet, Christian authoritarians certainly have trouble with those ideas in lived reality. And COVID denialists tend overwhelmingly to be authoritarians.

So here, Patrice Lewis screeches about vaccination mandates. The mandates move too quickly for her taste. As I read her post, I detect something between her lines.

She’s outraged that she and her tribemates weren’t courted enough by their enemies. That’s what this is really all about. She doesn’t feel important anymore.

White evangelicals’ loss of dominance may have caused COVID-19 denialism to flourish

In June, a PRRI survey uncovered this truth:

Nearly four in ten vaccine hesitant Americans who attend religious services at least a few times a year (38%) say one or more faith-based approaches would make them more likely to get vaccinated.

Even among refusers, these approaches could be effective. Nearly one in five Americans who are vaccine refusers (19%) also say one or more faith-based approaches would make them more likely to get vaccinated.

So, Patrice Lewis wants to be coddled and coaxed and cajoled. That’s not happening, so she’s upset. Suddenly, her voice no longer carries the conversation. Nobody cares anymore why she’s acting like a petulant child.

There’s nothing worse in the world for controlling people to experience than to lose their control over others. And white evangelicals have thought for decades that they’re humanity’s Designated Adults.

But we’ve no more time to coddle and coax and cajole a COVID-19 denialist into doing what’s best for herself, her family, and her community. There’s just no more time. She needs to get with the program, or get left behind.

ROLL TO DISBELIEVE "Captain Cassidy" is Cassidy McGillicuddy, a Gen Xer and ex-Pentecostal. (The title is metaphorical.) She writes about the intersection of psychology, belief, popular culture, science,...