Why shelter-in-place orders stoke US protests

Published by  News Archive

On 21st Apr 2020

american policeman wearing a face mask at a protest

The battle over US states’ efforts to contain the outbreak of Covid-19 “ties into long-standing debates between religious conservatives and the state about the extent to which their faith gives them freedom from general laws and expectations, as well as a mistrust of the state and a long history of self-reliance. All are making it harder for the nation to implement the policies seen in other nations as a crucial part of the battle against the current pandemic.”

That’s according to Dr Emma Long of the University of East Anglia (UEA), an expert on the historical and contemporary links between religion and politics in the USA.

Dr Emma Long is a senior lecturer in American Studies in the School of Art, Media and American Studies.

Dr Long said: “As the federal government, and some states, attempt to impose a lockdown on populations to prevent the spread of Covid-19, some political and religious leaders are resisting such measures on the grounds that it interferes with religious freedom and that faith is better placed in God than the government. 

“In this the battle represents a culmination of debates from the last 40 years about the role of the government, the meaning of religious liberty, and religious conservatives' belief that God trumps all other authority.

“This is not just happening in the US and it is not just Christians. Other faith groups around the world have been resisting similar implementations. But in the US the battle ties into long-standing debates between religious conservatives and the state about the extent to which their faith gives them freedom from general laws and expectations as well as a mistrust of the state and a long history of self-reliance. All are making it harder for the nation to implement the policies seen in other nations as a crucial part of the battle against the current pandemic.”

Image credit: Paul Weaver, Flickr/creative commons.

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