As the coronavirus continues to spread, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is expressing his concerns.
The Vermont senator’s concern at the moment is not the virus itself, however — it’s the religious views of the person President Donald Trump has assigned to lead the fight against it: Vice President Mike Pence.
On Wednesday, the president held a news conference and outlined the administration’s response to fighting the coronavirus threat.
Trump said he would be tasking the vice president to lead the effort in combatting the spread of the virus.
Pence accepted the assignment and reassured reporters his goal would be to protect the health and safety of Americans.
It is hardly surprising that Democrats, who oppose everything the president does, have been unsupportive of his plans to deal with coronavirus.
The appointment of Pence, a devout Christian, has added yet another layer of criticism to the situation.
Following the news conference, Sanders tweeted his disapproval of Trump’s handling of the situation, calling it “disgusting.”
One point of criticism from the socialist senator was the key role of Pence, whom he accused of wanting to “pray away” the HIV epidemic.
Trump’s plan for the coronavirus so far:
-Cut winter heating assistance for the poor
-Have VP Pence, who wanted to “pray away” HIV epidemic, oversee the response
-Let ex-pharma lobbyist Alex Azar refuse to guarantee affordable vaccines to all
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) February 27, 2020
That was an apparent reference to a position Pence took in 2000 when he was running for Congress.
His campaign website at the time said, “Congress should support the reauthorization of the Ryan White Care Act only after completion of an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus.
“Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”
Leftist politicians and many in the LGBT community claim he was pushing for funds to go toward so-called conversion therapy, which they deride as “praying the gay away.”
A Pence spokeswoman, however, said they have twisted his words.
“The vice president has never supported conversion therapy and doesn’t support it now,” spokeswoman Alyssa Farah told The Indianapolis Star in 2018. “Any reports to the contrary are patently false. He’s been abundantly clear on the matter.”
Others in the left wing of the Democratic Party echoed the reaction from Sanders. New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted her disagreement with Pence’s role, calling it “utterly irresponsible.”
According to Ocasio-Cortez, the vice president “literally doesn’t believe in science.”
Mike Pence literally does not believe in science.
It is utterly irresponsible to put him in charge of US coronavirus response as the world sits on the cusp of a pandemic.
This decision could cost people their lives. Pence’s past decisions already have. https://t.co/NhMPOusOWm
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 27, 2020
Studies show there has been a significant decline in Christianity, and overall religious faith, in the U.S. in recent years. However, according to the Pew Research Center, 65 percent of American adults still identify as Christian.
In a society that is falling ever further away from faith, it is inevitable that people will have a lessened understanding of Christians and their views, and some will even become hostile to them.
The point that is often lost on people like Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez is that prayer is not an isolated event, nor is it a rebellion against science.
A person can pray for guidance or God’s intervention and still take action based on the facts available.
Under the vice president’s leadership, the Trump administration will work to resolve the coronavirus threat with minimal harm to Americans’ health.
However, the spiritual divide of the country shows no signs of healing anytime soon.
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