Why Are Reactions to Coronavirus So Different? CNN vs Fox / Republican vs Democrat

Why Are Reactions to Coronavirus So Different? CNN vs Fox / Republican vs Democrat

Here’s what’s undeniable: we are in the midst of a very real pandemic. COVID-19 is a highly contagious disease that has sickened many on our planet, and killed many more. It has changed the landscape of the world for the time being and is literally redefining reality as we know it. It is affecting everything, and the disrupting lives of everyone. To quote Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, “We’re not in Kanas anymore”—at least not for the foreseeable future. The pandemic is uprooting everything from the stock market to summer vacations to public schooling and even food supply chains. This is BIG! Everyone is affected. It is therefore no surprise that we are grieving, fearful and experiencing a wide range of emotions. Many are not sure whom to trust or where to turn for answers.

Once we remind ourselves of the unprecedented upheaval of all of this—at least in our own lifetime—it’s not a surprise then, that as a nation, we are interpreting this plague so differently. For example, last month the Pew Research Center released the following summary:

Democrats are more likely than Republicans to see the Coronavirus in the most serious terms. As of last week, nearly eight in ten Democrats…(78%) say the outbreak is a major threat to the health of the U.S. population as a whole; a much smaller share of Republicans…(52%) say the same. Democrats are also more likely than Republicans to say the Coronavirus outbreak presents a major threat to the U.S. economy, their personal finances and their own health.”

What’s up? The same divide is evident on the major news networks. Listening to the latest COVID-19 update on CNN is a vastly different experience than listening to it on Fox News or MSNBC. Again, what’s up? By this weekend, over 40 states will have partially reopened, and predictably, responses are all over the map. Many are applauding, others are condemning.

What’s up is a vast difference in worldviews among our citizens. What we are seeing is fairly normal—namely that large scale tragedies expose worldview fault-lines that lie just beneath the surface of a nation. This has always been the case.

SO…to keep this blog shorter rather than longer, here are some critical questions that every single person is currently answering within their own head and heart right now. And here’s the key: how we are answering and interpreting these questions is a direct result of our worldview. There are no exceptions to this! How people are answering the following questions inevitably leads to very different conclusions about the COVID-19 pandemic. Here we go:

1) Do I believe in an all-powerful God—as described in the Bible—who is in control of all things?
2) How did I view President Trump prior to the pandemic?
3) How do I view government in general? (As a liberator? As God-ordained, but limited? As an oppressive?)
4) What is my instinctive reaction to governmental agencies (CDC? FDA? EPA? TSA? etc.)?
5) What is my view of science? A recent commercial from Pfizer Pharmaceuticals lays out the issue here. The narrator of the advertisement says this, “At a time when things are uncertain, we turn to the most certain thing there is, science.”
6) What do I believe about climate change and the fragility of planet Earth?
7) How do I view death? Do I believe in an afterlife?
8) Do I know anyone who’s been seriously ill or even died from COVID-19?
9) How old am I? What is my ethnic background? How healthy am I?
10) Do I own my own home? Do I own my own business?
11) Do I have investments in the stock market?
12) Do I believe that “conspiracy theories” are ever valid? If so, why? If not, why not?

If we were to put 1,000 random people in a ballroom, and ask them this list of questions, we would see strong differences arise very quickly. Fault-lines of conviction and assumptions would rapidly emerge. I know that those at CNN, MSNBC and Fox News would offer very different answers to these questions, and so would many who are conservative vs liberal. This is to be expected.

Here’s the bottom line: understanding the importance of worldview helps us better understand how people arrive at very different conclusions. It helps us better understand how people can arrive at and interpret national tragedies so differently. I believe this gives us a better understanding of why we are seeing such diverse responses to the COVID-19 pandemic right now. Interpretations of reality and events are always rooted in worldview. Many forget this. Presuppositions are very real. Worldview is all encompassing. Worldview is everything in the end. Final question: What is it that you really believe about God, germs, government and our planet, and why? That’s worth pondering a bit.

by Jay Childs, Senior Pastor
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