The word “demonize” used here means being shunned and described as ‘one of those people.’ It does not refer to any occult activity.
We can disagree with someone, and say something like “Oh, you are one of those people.” After that, we don’t have to listen to them, or respect their opinions and we can avoid a conversation with one of ‘those people’ by ‘demonizing’ them. Hitler did that to the Jews, and it is a common thing in racial prejudice.
So, have you been demonized yet, in these COVID times?
I don’t want to choose sides here, about how dangerous COVID is, or arguments about vaccination. Those topics are important, but I don’t want to be like a dog who chases all the rabbits at the same time.
Religious people can see the religion and theology in COVID regulations. We have saints and sinners who follow the rules or not, and COVID heaven and hell, and we can find salvation if we do the right things. Also, the true believers are very devout, and they are angry at the other people who go the other way.
We are set to demonize each other.
In my work, I talked to a young man from Ethiopia and from his name, I guess that he is a Muslim. Our conversation was friendly, and one topic was COVID safety. I was surprised, he immediately frowned and told me that COVID was just a government conspiracy, and he didn’t take it seriously. I wondered if that was only his opinion, or if everyone in his group was like him.
Maybe all those people think the same way.
If we see religious convictions in COVID regulations, and in protest movements against those regulations, we can see rival religions. That attitude seems to be the driver to reject many religious people, to demonize them
Where I live, conservative Mennonites seem to reject COVID vaccination, and their close relatives the Amish are the same, and infections among them seem to be very low. They see the COVID safety regulations as interference in their faith in God. Apparently many Mennonites are moving to South America, where they can avoid the conflict. They don’t want to be demonized and blamed together.
Other religious groups have the same ideas. The Ethiopian man that I met was sure the government was wrong. In countries like Britain, France, and Australia, immigrants are blamed for the spread of COVID, and that applies especially to Muslims:
Very conservative Jews have also been blamed for the spread of COVID. They don’t like rules that interfere with their beliefs and practices:
On the other side, I found an article in a local newspaper that seemed to promote tolerance. The title was something about how we don’t really understand those unvaccinated people, and we should try to understand them.
I was happy to read an article that promoted tolerance and understanding, until I actually understood the message. The topic was really; those unvaccinated people are not all the same. They have different reasons for their decisions and we should understand them better, so we can put them down more effectively.
The article was sophisticated demonization; those people are all wrong, but in different ways. We don’t need to talk to them so we can learn something, and change what we think. We should understand them so we can make them conform to our ideas, which are the only correct way.
Religious people can see this, easily.
We can dismiss those immigrants and radical religious groups. Most of us are not like them, so ‘those’ people can be demonized and ignored. Humans have always shown this weakness and the COVID crisis can teach us that lesson again.
You have probably heard the words from a Christian pastor in Nazi Germany; “First they came for the communists …” He ended with “Finally they came for me …” What happens to some people will happen to us all, if it continues:
With our concern for a dangerous virus, there are other things that we should care about. Where I live, COVID infections dropped about thirty percent over a few days, and the experts tell us we will end the viral pandemic soon. What has not changed is the dismissal and demonization of ‘them.’ The blaming did not drop by thirty percent, at the same time.
As a Christian, I follow someone who was demonized, and finally nailed to a cross. To the powerful people, Jesus was just wrong and he had nothing to teach them. As he died, Jesus looked at his enemies and prayed “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
Our demonization attitude is wrong, and God needs to forgive it.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but think of yourself with sober judgment. (Romans 12: 2 and 3)