As a Christian and former fundamentalist, I’ve actually thought about this before, and even discussed it. I have two possibilities, both which I think can be supported.
The first is indeed one Donald J. Trump. And I don’t just mean his election. And not because of “celebrity worship,” which is generally just paying a lot of attention to certain famous people. No, what happened with Trump is more akin to actual worship. People put their faith in Trumpism rather than even the Americentric Christianity they had been taught. They were willing to deny their eyes and ears because of their faith that Trump was right (e.g. believing it was all fake news). They knew he lied openly, and chose to ignore it. They saw him violating the morals they supported, and they excused it.
Even if you assume that he just conned them and exploited the system to get elected, we saw what he did afterwards, including several impeachable offenses. But they turned a blind eye. He got even more supporters in that time.
Those of you who don’t think much of religion might think this sounds stupid. But there’s a connection here even if you look at it secularly. Trump’s actions are a significant part of why the pandemic has and continues to play out the way it has in the US. He removed the pandemic task force, the people who would have been on the ground looking for these types of things. He’s the one who let the PPE stockpile go down. He’s the one who did not take the virus seriously when it first started, trying to push the pandemic as a hoax. He’s the one who pushed the anti-mask stuff, refusing to be seen wearing one himself and supporting the anti-mask anti-lockdown protestors. He vetoed the idea of sending masks to everyone. He so convinced people that the virus was as hoax that, even when the vaccine came, they rejected what they once claimed to want.
And why was he able to do this? Because he was elected, never faced consequences for his bad actions, and was able to convince so many to become a part of his cult of personality so that they believed him over their own eyes and ears. And why were those people able to be so tricked? For a large portion of them, it was because they turned their back on the Biblical principles which would have prevented that. Had they upheld the beliefs they had before, Trump would not have been elected, let alone become their deity. You just can’t deny that Trump and his supporters are a huge part of why the pandemic was so bad in the US.
That said, what actually got me to start actually trying the religious argument on religious people was this. Before Biden’s election, I’d been constantly seeing the old Bible quote from 2 Chronicles 7:14:
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
The point of this was to tell people to pray about the pandemic. But I noticed that people were already doing that. The key part there is “turn from their wicked ways.” I’ve long said that the election of Trump, a open wicked man, was a wicked action. And what happens right after Biden is elected? The vaccines come out—our potential salvation from this pandemic.
The Bible is full of situations where a nation is judged by the actions of its rulers or government. It was Pharaoh’s actions that led to the plagues in Egypt. The kinds of Judah or Israel are mentioned as “doing evil in the eyes of the Lord” and then cited for punishment. The other nations will also be said to be doing evil, but the description is often of what the government does. And this concept makes even more sense when the people of that nation have the ability to elect their leaders.
I also note the reason that the vaccine has not saved as many as it could: the anti-vaccine crowd. The vaccine even works against the stronger delta strain. But people just refused to get it, despite it being the thing they were so longing for earlier. And the reason for that was how the virus was played down.
It seems like such a clear argument, as long as you accept signs of God are a thing and reject coincidence—something the religious who believe in prophecy do. So it seemed a slam dunk argument. Unfortunately, this was the argument that got me told I was “brainwashed by CNN.”
If you read all of that, you may have forgotten I said this was only one of two candidates for the sin. And that is largely because of what @Omar_Little said about the pandemic being worldwide. Sure, I could argue that the US was acting as a leader of the world, or bring up the rise of fascism and the alt-right in much of the world. But there’s another candidate with a factual connection to the pandemic.
Climate change, and our unwillingness to deal with it.
We’re supposed to be good stewards of the Earth. And yet, time and time again, we keep rejecting that. And, guess what? Scientists have long been pointing out that climate change is linked to an increase in the likelihood of pandemics.
The downside is that there isn’t really a specific action to start the ball rolling that happened recently. The rejection of taking care of our planet isn’t new. But the problem is becoming more acute, and reasonable rejections are going away. Plus, God in the Bible seems to often give the nations a lot of time before he comes in.
This also links to other plagues. Climate change has led to droughts, famine, pestilence (due to invasive species). Pick any plague in the Bible, and climate change can cause it. And we more and more have the technology to try and deal with it, yet we refuse.
Personally, because of the factual connection and my status as a Christian, I believe both of these play a part in all of this. I think that these are reasonable ways to use the religion of the Bible to describe these connections which we know exist. And I think I’m not the only Christian on board with these ideas.