He meant it as an insult, but when Chris Rock mentioned the president’s condition on “Saturday Night Live” and said, “my heart goes out to COVID,” the White House probably chuckled in agreement. If there’s one person the virus probably regrets infecting, it’s a fighter like Donald Trump. From the minute he announced his diagnosis to every upbeat video since, the president isn’t flinching in the face of this test. He’s doing what he’s done since the very beginning: confronting the virus head-on.
Other men might have hidden behind their doctors’ assessments. President Trump has not. He’s taken every opportunity to reassure the American people. “We’re getting great reports,” he said, looking a little more like his old self on Sunday. “It’s been an interesting journey,” he admitted. “I learned a lot about COVID. I learned it by really going to school. This is the real school. This isn’t the let’s-read-the-books school. And I get it. And I understand it.”
To the millions of Americans who’ve struggled with this virus or lost a loved one to it, that understanding matters. But it does not mean, as the president told Rudy Giuliani over the weekend, that our country should shrink back in fear and stop living. “I am the president of the United States,” he said, “I can’t lock myself in a room… I had to confront [the virus] so the American people stopped being afraid of it — so we could deal with it responsibly.” And the world needs to know, he went on, “we have made tremendous progress on treating this disease. Fatality rates are very low compared to [the beginning]. I’m going to beat this,” he vowed. “Then I will be able to show people we can deal with this disease responsibly, but we shouldn’t be afraid of it.”
While the other side is trying to push Americans back into their caves, President Trump refuses to believe that the solution is hiding out until the virus has passed. He made the decision long ago that the business of the country must go on, even choosing — to the horror of liberals and their friends in the media — to host a Rose Garden ceremony for the nomination his Supreme Court pick, Amy Coney Barrett. Now, days later, as the country pours over the photo from that event, dissecting who was and wasn’t masked, there’s plenty of finger-pointing and speculation about who might have been exposed. But in the end, that’s all it is: speculation. The reality is, no one knows where and when the president was infected.
Some people have noticed that I was in the photo too, sitting just a few seats away from former Governor Chris Christie. I wasn’t wearing a mask, because I’ve already had coronavirus. And those of us who have the antibodies need to be out and about, because we become part of the process that stops the spread. But if we hide in our homes, waiting for a vaccine, we’ll never reach herd immunity. And in the meantime, we’ll destroy our economy, drive up societal pathologies because of isolation and stress, and leave hurting people — thanks to shuttered churches — without a single place to turn.
That’s not healthy — not for America and not for all of us. The second and third effects of the fear of the virus is a greater threat to our nation than the actual virus itself. It’s one of the reasons FRC has been so adamant about reopening churches. We can take precautions, protect those at risk and still live our lives. As a country, it’s time to stand up to this idea that Christians should be worshiping in isolation far removed from their fellow believers from which they draw community. This Sunday, October 11, FRC will be hosting a special event in conjunction with California’s Calvary Chapel Chino Hills to speak out about the church’s scriptural and constitutional authority to meet this fear head on. We’re calling it Freedom Sunday 2020, and you’re invited. Join us — either in person or for the livestream — at 8:00 p.m. (ET)/5:00 p.m. (PT) and help us take a stand for religious freedom in this country.
We all need to take our cue from this president and stare down these challenges with boldness. “His push to reopen the economy, get people back to their jobs… were exactly the kinds of things a president must do to rally the nation during a crisis,” Michael Goodwin applauded. “While many on the Left have help up Biden’s hermit-like behavior as a model of safety, it is impossible to govern that way. No president can remain isolated and appear frightened and still command the respect and trust of the public. To his everlasting credit, Trump never stopped being president out of fear of getting sick.”
I am standing with President Trump. We cannot allow fear of anything to stop us from meeting as a body of believers “Let us consider,” Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Tony Perkins’s Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC Action senior writers.
EDITORS NOTE: This FRC-Action column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.