By Jack Jenkins
The divisions that the coronavirus pandemic has caused in the United States — with some viewing social distancing restrictions as sensible and altruistic while others decry them as infringements on our freedoms — have been blamed on everything from political parties to toxic masculinity.
But a group of academics say there may be an even more powerful driver of the disagreement: Christian nationalism.
“Christian nationalists have indicated over several studies that … they are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories, more likely to distrust the media and more likely to distrust scientists and feel like there’s some kind of conspiratorial agenda that is behind all of that,” said Samuel Perry, associate professor of sociology at the University of Oklahoma, in an interview.
Perry and his colleagues, such as Andrew Whitehead of Indiana University and Joshua Grubbs of Bowling Green State University, argue in a series of new papers that Christian nationalism is either the single best predictor or a top predictor of whether a person will flout social distancing recommendations, be skeptical of science, find nothing racist about calling COVID-19 the “China virus” or argue that lockdown orders threaten the economy and liberty — all while de-prioritizing the threat to the vulnerable.
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