The COVID cult

Did I not warn you, nearly two years ago, that we were living in an age of cults? Here is what I said:

We certainly appear to be living through a time of mass hysteria and apocalyptic thinking, at least in the US, which may explain the plethora of cult-related headlines. As social mood continues to darken, the prevalence and popularity of cults may well increase.

Well, in the last few months a vast and sinister new cult has taken over the English-speaking world. It is the cult of COVID-19. At its core is not a charismatic leader, but a mysterious virus that must be appeased and propitiated through an array of bizarre rituals. These include “social distancing,” i.e. the avoidance of human contact, and the universal wearing of masks. It does not matter, of course, that these behaviors have no scientific basis, nor that the epidemic in the US is for all intents and purposes over:

From the CDC:

Based on death certificate data, the percentage of deaths attributed to pneumonia, influenza or COVID-19 (PIC) decreased from 9.0% during week 25 to 5.9% during week 26, representing the tenth consecutive week during which a declining percentage of deaths due to PIC has been recorded. The percentage is currently at the epidemic threshold but will likely change as additional death certificates for deaths during recent weeks are processed.

I could be mistaken, but my sense is that the initial fear of the virus has worn off as the daily death numbers have dramatically declined. But this has not loosened the grip of the cult, as we see by the flurry of mask edicts that are being issued in places such as Pennsylvania, Kansas, Oregon and Texas, and the closure of beaches across Southern California for the Fourth of July weekend. What began as COVID panic or hysteria has hardened into a COVID religion, a kind of formalized belief system that one must simply obey.

Peter Hitchens considers the situation in his country of Britain:

When this madness began, I behaved as if a new and fanatical religion was spreading among us. Be polite and tolerant, I thought. It may be crazy and damaging but in time it will go away.

Now it is clear that a new faith, based on fear of the invisible and quite immune to reason, has all but taken over the country. And it turns out to be one of those faiths that doesn’t have much tolerance for those who don’t share it.

My guess is that about 85 per cent of the population now worship it and will continue to do so. The rest of us are, as each day goes by, a persecuted minority, forced to go along with beliefs we do not hold.

Its evangelists will not leave you and me alone, but constantly seek to force us to join. This is why I make such a fuss about the demand to make us all wear muzzles. This is not about health.

There is simply not enough evidence to compel us to do so. It is an attempt to force submission on Covid unbelievers.

That is why it spreads, despite the absence of any good case for it. […] In Texas, of all states, the governor seeks to make muzzles compulsory in all public places.

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