Times of crisis, including Pandemics, always see a rise in conspiracy theories. And so, what we’re witnessing now is nothing new.
Consider the yellow fever outbreak in the USA in the late 1700s. We now know that Yellow Fever is a mosquito-borne virus probably carried to the US from Africa via the slave trade. But at the time, all sorts of theories were circulated. Some said it came from the vapour of rotting vegetables or the ash of a volcanic eruption in Sicily. It wasn’t until 1901 when Army physician Walter Reed demonstrated that yellow fever came from a mosquito bite, and a vaccine did not appear until 1937.
Blame the Illuminati
When medical science can’t immediately provide all the answers, some people will make up their own. In the late 1700s, conspiracies abounded about a secret Cabal named, The Illuminati, which was behind the pandemic.
Now, an actual group called the Illuminati was founded in Bavaria on May 1, 1776. They were not dedicated to global domination. Its purpose was to discuss what was at the time dangerously radical ideas (secularism and women’s rights). Carl Theodore, the Duke of Bavaria, banned the group in the summer of 1784, and three years later, the society was no more. That should have been the end of it, but sadly that’s not the case.
In 1890, the New York Herald European edition ran an item suggesting that the electric light was somehow responsible for a global influenza outbreak.
The 1918 flu pandemic was blamed on German Submarines. In the 14th Century, the Bubonic plague was blamed on the Jews, acting on behalf of the Muslim prince of Grenada, who had bribed the lepers to contaminate public fountains and wells to kill the Christians.
Fast forward to 2020, and we’re inundated with fake news and conspiracies about the Deep State, 5G, vaccines, and face masks.
In March, Facebook rated as false more than forty million posts about the pandemic. Many of these posts are shared countless times by well-meaning people who don’t take the time to check their facts. I’ve been inundated with these during the COVID-19 pandemic. Consider the following conspiracies that are all incorrect:
- The virus emerged from a secret laboratory outside Wuhan, China.
- The coronavirus vaccine already exists and is being withheld.
- Bill Gates is out to plant a chip in people using the vaccine.
- The swab test for COVID-19 plants a chip in the roof of the nasal cavity.
- The United States government created the virus.
- The metal wire in some face masks is really a 5G antenna.
- Directives to wear face masks are illegal, and the fines are also unlawful.
- Businesses refusing cash are part of the push towards a cashless society and one-world government.
- Forbidding churches to meet is a sign of targeted suppression of the church.
- The introduction of 5G broadband and radiation from cell towers equipped with 5G technology is the real culprit.
- Plus, the virus doesn’t exist, it’s harmless, it’s an excuse to limit our freedom; it’s being used for population control to stop global warming (which doesn’t exist either).
These and other statements that are circulated on social media as facts are simply wrong. What’s needed is wisdom, caution, and diligence. Christian people should be leading in the spreading of truth rather than dissemination of conspiracy rubbish.
Check the Facts
Rather than blindly believing and sharing, take time to do due diligence. Make use of fact-checking organisations like PolitiFact, Snopes, Media Bias/Fact check, and others. And be aware of what kind of website you’re gleaning information from. I’ve seen people quote The Babylon Bee, The Borowitz Report, or Weekly World News to prove a point. These are satirical sites that deliberately produce tongue-in-cheek articles. They use parody, mockery, or sarcasm and are not meant to be taken literally.
You Shall Not Lie
After all, what is a conspiracy theory but a lie? It comprehensively and grievously violates the Ninth Commandment. “You shall not bear false witness,” a command that forbids “Speaking falsely in any matter, lying, equivocating, and any way devising and designing to deceive our neighbour.”
A conspiracy theorist bears false witness against his neighbours — against his fellow citizens. He accuses them of grievous sins, he destroys their good name and can even incite violence. Christians should be above such things but sadly are often the ones who are deceived by them and broadcast them to others.
I’ll finish with a comment on wearing face masks. In Victoria, mask-wearing is now mandatory (from 11.59pm Wednesday, July 22). The wearing of masks has been heavily politicised in the USA. In Australia, I’ve already seen (even Christian) people react to this mandate from the State government: “Directives to wear face masks are illegal, and the fines are also illegal,” wrote a Christian evangelist on Facebook this week. This is simply wrong. Making masks mandatory is not against the law. Under Australian law, private landowners or occupiers can take reasonable steps to protect themselves, their employees, and people on their property. So, it is legal for businesses – including cafes and supermarkets – to make it a condition of entry that customers wear a mask and sanitise their hands.
This law is similar to the ones that mandate wearing a seatbelt when in a vehicle, having appropriate clothing before admittance to some venues, or the “No hat no play” rule in schools. Wearing masks is a directive of the Chief Medical Officer and needs to be followed. Failure to comply can lead to a fine. There’s nothing illegal about it. It’s for your good and the good of others.
While some people will be exempt from wearing a mask for medical reasons, most people will need to wear one. It’s a small, temporary inconvenience that can save lives and slow the spread of this virus.
Christians need to lead the way, loving their neighbour as themselves. Please, don’t mistake the inconvenience for oppression. And PLEASE stop buying into and spreading lies.