I’m writing this quick note after reading a New York Times piece and reader’s thread about Trump’s suggestion to combat coronavirus by “injecting” a form of bleach as a sort of “cleansing” (now walked back to supposedly being “sarcastic” which seems a little worse than sincerity).
I noticed on cable TV as this story was breaking, and today in the Times thread again, confusion and debate about whether the word should be “ingest” or “inject.” That is, was he floating a vision of cleansing the bloodstream, the lungs, or the digestive tract?
Although admittedly we are already with Alice through the looking glass by pursuing the question at all, I think I have the answer!
The Guardian reported yesterday that this might be rooted in Trump listening to an obscure church called Genesis II—maybe that should be “church” in scare quotes but at least a business that seems to be legally recognized as a church or presenting itself as such.
And since I make it my business to study and teach about US religion, I naturally clicked over to Genesis II (which I had not heard of previously) to check it out. I must say I’m surprised by the small number of people who appeared to have done this (to me obvious) little exploration, nor followed up the report (at least based on my quick impression today, although here is an exception). But maybe that is just the sort of scholarly geek that I am.
In any case, what you find there is a lot about selling their cures—which center on a “sacrament” which involves drinking a small amount of special bleach mixed in water.
For other geeks who might flock with me, here is an impassioned and aggrieved sermon posted yesterday from the self-declared bishop, about his religious freedom to promote his sacrament. He seems to think there was only a minuscule gap between a Pilgrim quest for religious freedom and the First Amendment (sorry, bishop, that’s theocracy in early 1600s with witch trials versus Enlightenment Deists who didn’t believe in miracles in the late 1700s—comparable to the gap from now back to before Einstein and Darwin.)
It seems, also, that Genesis II are passionate anti-vaxxers, so as not to put bad things in their blood, while at the same time they are bullish about their bleach sacraments.
Although I am no expert researcher on Genesis II and don’t have time to become one today, I may be like a doctor who (with all due disclaimers) can make a reasonably sound snap diagnosis—pending confirmation by blood tests or whatnot.
Is this an injection in the bloodstream? Might it be Trump clumsily promoting some sort of advanced chemotherapy as posited by conservative spinners in the Times? Is it like serpent handlers who deliberately show their faith by risking deadly snake bites and drinking strychnine because they think Mark 16:18 commands it?
No, the Guardian reporting passes our preliminary smell test with flying colors. This shows all the marks of positive thinking and/or prosperity gospel quackery—the tradition of selling either New Age or ultra-consumerist-neo-Pentecostal healing oils, blessed prayer fetishes, healing crystals, mantras, etc.
We know that, insofar as Trump has any credible claim to religion or morality at all—and yesterday the great Lucinda Williams released a song for him denying this—it is from this positive thinking and prosperity gospel tradition. Trump got there less through his current Pentecostal sidekicks or the New Age than from Norman Vincent Peale who self-identified as a mainstream Presbyterian. All these are fingers on the same hand.
Sadly, in this Alice through the looking glass world, it all “does make sense” to me.
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