The blogger C.J. Hopkins has described the hysteria over the COVID-19 virus as a religion, which he has dubbed the Covidian Cult. I do not particularly recommend Hopkins or his writings, but in this he is quite correct. There are people in the United States who are convinced that COVID-19 is a horrific scourge, that lockdowns and other forms of government restrictions are perfectly justified, that people who attend a public church service—or travel to another state to visit family for a holiday celebration—are dangerous, and that wearing a mask in public will stop the virus and is, therefore, the “patriotic” duty of every man, woman and child. Many of the people who hold some or all of these views hold them with a conviction, zeal and fervor that can only be described as religious. If you suggest to them that COVID-19 is not really that dangerous, or that lockdowns or other such government interventions are inappropriate, they will often respond as if you have just attacked the honor of their god.
And that is, in fact, what you have done. Because, you see, the god of the Covidians is the state.
Everyone has a god that they worship, even those who consider themselves atheists. Your god is the being or thing that is (1) your ultimate provider and savior; (2) your ultimate lawgiver; and (3) your ultimate source of truth. Christians believe that provision, salvation, law and truth are found ultimately in the God described in the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments—the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit, one God in three persons. People who worship the state (they are sometimes called Statists) believe that provision, salvation, law and truth are ultimately found in the state. And the Covidian Cult is just another form of Statism.
The Covidian looks to the state as the source of truth. The state says COVID-19 is a horrific scourge, that the virus has killed almost 300,000 people in the U.S. alone, and the Covidian believes it, even though that number includes suicides, gunshot victims, victims of car accidents, and people whose pre-existing medical conditions had already put them at death’s door. The state says that masks reduce the spread of the virus and thereby prevent deaths, and the Covidian believes it, even though almost every randomized clinical trial attempted thus far has found that surgical or cloth masks have a negligible effect on virus transmission. The state says that lockdowns and other such restrictions on human personal contact will save lives, and the Covidian believes it, even though the death toll due to the lockdowns and the consequences of the lockdowns are far greater than the death toll caused by the virus.
When your god speaks, you don’t question him (or it). You don’t ask him to prove his claims, and you certainly do not presume to measure his words against a standard of truth external to him. He is the standard by which you measure everything else. If the evidence indicates that your god is wrong, well, then, the evidence must be wrong. That is how people treat their god, and that is how Covidians treat the state.
Covidians see the state as the ultimate lawgiver. Most of them are democracts (small d), and they have convinced themselves that The People are, in fact, the ultimate source of law. In practice, however, that authority devolves to the state. So what the state decrees is, by definition, just, right, and lawful. If the state declares that a lockdown is justified, they have the authority to do so. If the state wants to suspend the right to freely exercise religion or the right of assembly, they can do that. If the state wants to close one business and declare another essential so that one man goes broke and another is enriched by the lack of competition, they merely have to show that they had a good reason for doing it. There are no restraints, no boundaries, no limits on what the state may do. In the minds of Covidians, the state defines law, so everything the state does is, by definition, lawful.
And this makes sense, because Covidians see the state as the ultimate provider and savior. Most of them have been trained from infancy to look to the state to overcome every need: A stimulus check when the economy is bad, a loan to get through college, health care for grandma, and money to buy daily bread, either through a welfare allowance or by the government providing (directly or indirectly) a job. Now, the state says this virus has killed many people and will kill many more, and the Covidians look to the state to protect them from it. Why wouldn’t they surrender their liberty, their freedom, and their rights to the state? The state is going to save them. The state is the only one who can save them (they believe), and if there is only one savior available, you give him whatever he demands. If the one you trust to help you when all else fails requires you to give him everything—including unquestioned obedience—in return for the help he provides, you give him everything. And that is what we are seeing: Covidians giving their god everything in the hopes that it will save them.
The god of the is Covidian Cult is the state.
And this is why mask wearing is so significant. Covidians wear the mask as an act of devotion to their god. The government says masks work (this is considered a proclamation of truth). The government says you must wear masks (proclamation of law). And the government says the mask requirement is part of the plan to save us from the virus (promise of provision and salvation). Covidians wear the mask because they have embraced the promises and proclamations of the state, and because they want other people to know that they have embraced those proclamations and promises. This is why we see so many people wearing a mask while they are alone in their car. It is the Covidian equivalent to a Christian fish on the car. Wearing a mask is a testimony of their devotion to their god.
Have you been astounded to see people going along with government intrusions they would have previously considered unthinkable? Have you been shocked when highly intelligent people continue to believe the government narrative, even when you present them with mountains of contrary data? You have experienced this surprise because you assumed that you were dealing with rational people who still had some ability to examine the issue in the light of truth. In fact, you were dealing with the members of a cult, the faithful and devoted servants of a god who has twisted their mind with lies. And why were they so upset and hurt when you tried to change their mind—or when you told them you would not wear a mask? They were hurt and upset because they assumed that you, too, were one of them.
But you aren’t one of them, and you must not ever allow yourself to become one of the them. Because the fundamental question of the COVID-19 saga is not about masks, lockdowns or constitutional rights. The fundamental question of the COVID-19 saga is: Who is your god?
Is it the one true God—or is it the state?