Sad news about Americans: 30% of us see coronavirus as a message from God

The survey on which the statistic above was based, as indicated in the Guardian article below, is a pretty reputable source: a collaboration between the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the University of Chicago Divinity School (the latter was probably appalled by the figure!). Click on the screenshot to read and weep:


. . . the findings of the poll. . . . indicate that people may also be searching for deeper meaning in the devastating outbreak.

Even some who don’t affiliate with organized religion, such as Lance Dejesus of Dallastown, Pennsylvania, saw a possible bigger message in the virus.

“It could be a sign, like ‘hey, get your act together’ – I don’t know,” said Dejesus, 52, who said he believes in God but doesn’t consider himself religious. “It just seems like everything was going in an OK direction and all of a sudden you get this coronavirus thing that happens, pops out of nowhere.” [JAC: Isn’t that the way all plagues start? What does that have to do with God?]

The poll found that 31% of Americans who believe in God feel strongly that the virus is a sign telling humanity to change, with the same number feeling that somewhat. Evangelical Protestants are more likely than others to believe that strongly, at 43%, compared with 28% of Catholics and mainline Protestants.

In addition, black Americans were more likely than those of other racial backgrounds to say they feel the virus is a sign God wants humanity to change, regardless of education, income or gender. Forty-seven per cent say they feel that strongly, compared with 37% of Latino and 27% of white Americans.

Yes, we are meaning makers, but this is beyond belief. It’s actually the claim that God has killed over three hundred thousand people to impart a message to us. (Is the message: “be prepared for a pandemic?”) And did God have to kill off so many people to get that message across? Do poor people and blacks need it more than the privileged?  I thought the poor were especially blessed! Were the Italians and Spanish especially in need of correction, while New Zealanders were exemplary? And why wouldn’t God spell out his message more clearly? For example, he could write it in the stars first without killing anyone: “Stop gay marriage NOW or I’ll afflict you with a plague the likes of which you’ve never seen.”

Even 28% of Catholics having that belief is appalling. And these data even more so:

Overall, 82% of Americans say they believe in God, and 26% of Americans say their sense of faith or spirituality has grown stronger as a result of the outbreak. Just 1% say it has weakened.

. . . Fifty-five per cent of American believers say they feel at least somewhat that God will protect them from being infected.

Both of these beliefs are palpable nonsense. Why would your belief in God increase when we have a pandemic whose cause is known? It’s not mysterious like the Black Death was in the fourteenth century . No, we know that it has a natural and predictable cause and spreads through naturalistic mechanisms. If your belief in God increases because he killed hundreds of thousands of people to impart a message whose content isn’t know, you’re hankering after an odious god!

h/t: Barry


  1. Posted May 16, 2020 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    “It’s actually the claim that God has killed over three hundred thousand people to impart a message to us.”

    That’s quite restrained really, after all, in Biblical times he killed off everyone except Noah’s family just to make a point.

    • Posted May 16, 2020 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

      You beat me to it. The Guy in the sky is supposed to throw these homicidal tantrums often. This would fit right in.

    • Filippo
      Posted May 17, 2020 at 10:04 am | Permalink

      I wonder how many of these folks believe that rainbows did not exist prior to the time of Noah.

  2. Posted May 16, 2020 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Amazing feats of confirmation bias. Further, I am sure that many will also see their being spared so far as a sign. And if grandma died while on on a respirator, well that is only because god willed it.

  3. CFB
    Posted May 16, 2020 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Well, I hope all those people who believe it also believe it’s God’s way of telling them to get rid of Trump.

  4. Glenda Palmer
    Posted May 16, 2020 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Knew that was coming. Sigh.

    God works in mysterious ways. Everything happens for a reason. Kindergarten mind set continues.

    Would be entertaining if it wasn’t destructive.

  5. Roger
    Posted May 16, 2020 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    I wonder what percentage think Bill Gates wants to put microchips in the vaccines. Because I know a few who do. Serious, people are idiots.

  6. Posted May 16, 2020 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    I’m surprised the statistic is this low…

    • Posted May 16, 2020 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      It’s 1/3 feel strongly and 2/3’s see it as a sign to “change our ways”.

      • GBJames
        Posted May 16, 2020 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

        I think it would be better to phrase the matter as: “Only a third of Americans understand that God isn’t talking to us through a virus”.

  7. Posted May 16, 2020 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    “I can’t believe this hurts so much,” exclaimed the person nailing the board to his head. “How about you?”

    ‘It’s not too bad, I just never thought it would be my face,” replied one of the founding members of the local The Leopards Eating People’s Faces Party.

    • yazikus
      Posted May 16, 2020 at 2:07 pm | Permalink


  8. GBJames
    Posted May 16, 2020 at 1:28 pm | Permalink


  9. ploubere
    Posted May 16, 2020 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Bottom line, these people think everything is about them. It is the height of ego-centricity.

    • Jon Gallant
      Posted May 16, 2020 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      Exactly! God sends a pandemic to kill many thousand other people in order to send a message to me. The central role of egocentrism in religiosity can’t be overstated. The “humble” face only appears when evidence, logic, or consistency is requested, to which the deity’s mysterious ways is always the mock-humble answer.

  10. Randall Schenck
    Posted May 16, 2020 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Not surprising at all. Religious people find religious meaning in everything that happens. g*d did it for a reason. Oh shit, maybe he did it to force us out of church during the lockdown. That g*d is really smart, he makes us miss him.

  11. Ken Kukec
    Posted May 16, 2020 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    I’ll lay odds that the Evangelicals driving this stat don’t think the message from God is “be more like the Good Samaritan” or “turn the other cheek.” More likely it has to do with shutting down abortion clinics and smiting The Ghey.

    Those were the lessons the fundies took from Hurricane Katrina and the HIV “plague.” Awfully nice of the Good Lord Almighty always to reinforce believers’ preexisting prejudices.

  12. Matt Young
    Posted May 16, 2020 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Why the surprise? When people get scared, they turn to God.

    • yazikus
      Posted May 16, 2020 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

      When people without adequate information and resources get scared, they turn to god. But I would argue that with information and adequate resources, the god-turning is less likely.

  13. yazikus
    Posted May 16, 2020 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    I suppose I understand the desire to imagine all this has some greater cause, and when I indulge in such thoughts, mostly I land on ‘we are too many’ – there are just so many humans on the planet right now. But that is more a reflection on how the mass spreading of something like this was inevitable.

  14. Posted May 16, 2020 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    If God wants to send a message, wouldn’t there be an actual message? All we have here is an event.

    • davelenny
      Posted May 16, 2020 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

      Oh c’mon! Join the dots here! Since more than half (I think) of the NZ fatalities are in rest homes, the divine message is an unambiguous and unequivocal endorsement of the recently passed End of Life Choice Act.

  15. Linda Calhoun
    Posted May 16, 2020 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Religion makes you stupid. And mean.


  16. mfdempsey1946
    Posted May 16, 2020 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    The God these people believe in is indistinguishable from Satan.

  17. mfdempsey1946
    Posted May 16, 2020 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    The God these people believe in is indistinguishable from Satan.

  18. rickflick
    Posted May 16, 2020 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad it’s only 30%. 30% of the population have IQs below 70. That’s actually not bad.

  19. Posted May 16, 2020 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    Has anyone else had the realization that, if your a “believer”, then God created novel Coronavirus (another of “God’s children”), for what reason it’s not our place to know or ask. For those who’ve read my blog, you know I don’t count myself as a believer.

  20. J Cook
    Posted May 16, 2020 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Maybe it’s Mother Nature’s way of telling us our population is way out of control.

    • Nell Whiteside
      Posted May 17, 2020 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

      Yes. People pollution!

      I had a cartoon showing ‘earth’ with a large thermometer inserted into it and Saturn. Saturn removed the thermometer, read it and said, “You’ve got ‘humans'”

      Overpopulation and over-consumption are slowly diminishing our natural world.

  21. kevind
    Posted May 16, 2020 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    In Northern Ireland one of the DUP councillors claimed it was punishment for the legalisation of abortion there.
    Both a bit overkill and not overly useful as a message. A few carefully aimed lightning bolts would have been a better way of conveying unhappiness with the idea.

  22. Steve Pollard
    Posted May 16, 2020 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    They all agree that the message from the Invisible Magic Friend is ‘change your ways’. But the IMF doesn’t go on to tell us how.

    Might it be ‘stop mucking about with the environment’? Or ‘value every other person on earth equally’? Or even just ‘feed the world’?

    Nope, complete radio silence. So it must be ‘worship me or you’re going to hell’ as usual.

    • GBJames
      Posted May 16, 2020 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

      I think the message is “I create viruses that don’t care what you think”.

  23. Posted May 16, 2020 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    But they don’t really believe that. They won’t as a consequence ‘change their ways’ (whatever that means) – most are just conforming to what they imagine is Public Morality.

    Here in Australia the message from the deity would seem to be “watching live sport on television is really bad” – (I actually agree with this).


  24. Bob
    Posted May 17, 2020 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    Two thoughts came to mind.

    1. Half of all people are below average.

    2. God must love the Chinese Communists because he made so many of them. And beetles too.

    • Posted May 17, 2020 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      Bob: The Chinese handled the virus much better than our evangelical nation did, and beetles seem unaffected by SARS-CoV-2, so your second point is clearly true.

  25. Filippo
    Posted May 17, 2020 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    I gather that as of the moment the NC governor is the latest to be blocked by a judge from restricting the pop. density of church services.

    Says the judge: “The record, at this admittedly early stage of the case, reveals that the Governor appears to trust citizens to perform non-religious activities indoors (such as shopping or working or selling merchandise) but does not trust them to do the same when they worship together indoors.”

    Businesses are restricted to something like 50% capacity. No more than 50 attending a funeral. In door religious services limited to 10.

    I can see the judge’s point. The governor disagrees (I have yet to hear of him saying why) but will not appeal. But I wonder if the judge would bet any money that parishioners would maintain physical distancing anywhere near as well as they would at the grocery store.

    Oh well, anyone “washed in the Blood,” and omnisciently secure in the knowledge that the coronavirus distinguishes among types of gatherings, has no worries.

    Some time in the not too-distant future I hope to see at least one irrefutable epidemiological study of coronavirus infection vis-a-vis religious gatherings.

  26. Posted May 17, 2020 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Two words: ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’

  27. Posted May 18, 2020 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    Doesn’t a big pandemic happen roughly every century? Therefore wouldn’t it have been predictable?

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