Refutation of Religious Fundamentalism
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for the daily POR ESTO! of Merida, Mexico.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann.
According to the German sociologist, philosopher, economist, jurist, historian and political scientist Max Weber, considered one of the founders of the modern study of sociology and public administration, Protestantism is one of the foundational elements of the origin of capitalism.
Based on this same logic of development, it is evident that the reactionary and traditional neo-Pentecostal church – born in and exported by the United States – is a fundamental part of the current neoliberal phase of capitalism. It promotes the non-intervention of the State in society, is in favor of the cruelest individualism, alien to all social solidarity and which even privileges religious control even over the health of the population.
This is approximately how Jorge Elbaum, doctor of economics, sociologist, researcher, teacher, journalist and poet, sees it in his article “Shepherds of the Virus”.
The model of the charismatic mass pastors was exported by the United States to Latin America in the 1970s to weaken Liberation Theology, a current of the Catholic Church committed to the destiny of the poorest.
Pastor Gerard Glenn, a leader of the New Deliverance Evangelistic congregation in Richmond, challenged recommendations of social isolation by stating that “God is greater than this dreaded virus” and warned that he would not consent to the temporary closure of his church. “I’m essential as a preacher because I talk to God,” he said. Glenn died last March 22 from a coronavirus, but his wife is still fighting the disease.
The same fate befell Landon Spradlin, leader of Virginia’s evangelical community, who became a staunch defender of Donald Trump’s tenets. On March 25, he died at age 65, shortly after claiming that the quarantine was basically aimed at “manipulating the lives of American citizens” and that its communication through the media was producing “unnecessary terror.
In mid-April, Life Way Christian Resources of Tennessee published the results of a survey on pastors’ perceptions of the pandemic: 81 percent of those surveyed said that “the love of many believers is dissipating as a result of social distancing,” which is why their congregations should be kept open.
In South Korea, the Church of Jesus – known as the congregation of Shincheon, which promotes mass assemblies – became the epicentre of the COVID contagion in that country. Its leader, Pastor Lee Man-Hee, urged his followers to oppose the government’s harsh isolation measures. Sixty percent of the total number of infected people in the country belong to this group.
In crisis situations like the present one, religious fundamentalisms (of all denominations) counterpose human regulations to the law of God, demanding obedience to divine mandates that they supposedly interpret and manage. Their open-minded claims are motivated by expectations of losses in the collection of contributions and tithes from parishioners.
Leaders of denominational orthodoxy believe that lack of income can lead to the failure of their business enterprises. The logical fear generated by the pandemic allows fundamentalist leaders to appeal to apocalyptic discourse and to advise sinners of a return to revealed truth.
In Latin America, the neo-Pentecostal tradition was consolidated by spreading the so-called prosperity gospel, which holds that wealth is a divine gift. Billionaires, for that tradition, are subjects who have been rewarded by the deity and lack responsibility for the inequity they create.
According to their references, they cannot be accused of pettiness because by accumulating wealth they subject the rest of humanity to misery. This ideological position defends sexism and patriarchy, and attacks LGBT identities, feminist movements and/or those who promote the voluntary termination of pregnancy.
May 18, 2020.
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