By Jonathon Van Maren
When the Spanish Flu pandemic struck in 1918, many churches responded by appointing special days of prayer, calling upon their congregants to beg God for assistance in the face of a spreading disease that was felling millions. In some instances, people called on national leaders to urge citizens to their knees (the prime minister of Australia received one letter asking for an entire week of “Humiliation and Prayer to stay the ravages of the Pneumonic-Influenza Plague”). It was understood, if not accepted, that God was in control of all things, and thus that begging Him for a reprieve was essential.
A century later, and the response of our elites to the potential of a new pandemic is highlighting just how post-Christian our culture has really become. A February 26 photograph of Vice President Mike Pence praying at the White House with the coronavirus task force went viral earlier this week, with many bitterly mocking the fact that Pence and his team would seek God’s guidance in dealing with the potential pandemic. “I have yet to attend a scientific meeting that begins with a Christian prayer,” sneered Dr. Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia University, on Twitter.