The Megan Basham vs. Francis Collins Mess?

Wow. Here is something that will upset your lunch. I am surprised that no one here has mentioned this yet, but I just found out about the Megan Basham article at The Daily Wire, that has been discussed at the Roys Report and Rod Dreher at the American Conservative.

Here is the Megan Basham article:

I am still counting to 10, a few times. Now, I love Francis Collins, and have great respect for him as a believer in Christ. But this is a tough piece, and if you follow the bread crumbs, it makes him look bad, as well as the many evangelical leaders who look up to and respect him. I am not sure what to do with it all, but I am really tired of all of the fighting.

A moderate, helpful critique of Basham’s article is here by Eric Erickson, that will help lower the blood pressure (well, perhaps at least a little bit):

Basham appeared last week on Eric Metaxas’ radio show:

A lot of folks are going to be confused by all of this. Real or merely perceived, there is a sense of loss of trust that is quite palpable. Without going into generating more heat than light, how can this breach be healed? How do we sort out the truth of these matters??

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Thanks. We are very tribal. I think it’s appropriate to send the right message to those who need it, through the proper channels. “Redeeming Babel” also used a Christ centered tone. Paul was a Greek to the Greeks. Both Black and Evangelical folks (among others) seem to do better when people of their group communicate to them. Dr Collins commented on NPR that there have been studies that when people hear from him that he’s a Christian, they are more likely to trust the government. Conversely, Christian radio and TV stations sell snake oil to people in my church (figuratively; insert essential oils, ivermectin, etc) and claim it’s an American, Christian duty to shout down the CDC and government. From what I’ve read, Ms Basham seems to imply that the alternative view (against science) should have equal sway and opportunity. I don’t get that.

I’m a family doc, and I don’t use my faith to influence people. However, I do recognize that Christians tend to trust me more when I say that I, too, have had the shot, as have my kids.

Maybe I’m missing something. I haven’t read all the posts. Thanks.

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Trust in who? Francis Collins? You mean you trusted him before you found out that he was an Obama-appointee to head the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Good Lord, fella… where have you been since then?

  • Collins, M.D., Ph. D. was appointed the 16th Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate. He was sworn in on August 17, 2009 . And he continued to hold that office until December 19, 2021.
  • Newsflash for ya: Francis Collins ceased being Director of NIH in 2021.

I am. Ignore it. “Following the breadcrumbs” is what conspiracy theorists and fear mongerers do. Why in the world would you trust anything put out by the Daily Wire? This is the platform of Matt Walsh and Candace Owens, it is clearly the voice of alt-right political shills, not a place one goes for objective journalism. Eric Metaxas has gone off the deep end and is reduced to hawking My Pillows and blowing Americana festooned shofars at Christian Nationalism rallies. This whole crowd is committed to spreading anti-vax nonsense and all manner of conspiracy theories. What Basham is characterizing as “COVID propaganda” was basic health information from agencies like the CDC, WHO, and NIH. The pastors and Christian leaders she trashes were being responsible leaders who cared about the health of their audiences. For crying out loud, even Robert Jeffress, with all his Trump adulation, was convinced by Collins to host a vaccine clinic at First Baptist Dallas. COVID vaccines are really not a political issue, they are a health issue. Robert Jeffress: The COVID-19 Vaccine Is the Best Way to Reopen Church

Yes, because a lot of people are ignorant and lack the ability to source information. If you trust the Daily Wire, you trust the wrong people.

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I guess since I don’t read the daily wire I do T know what type of push they have. I guess somewhere I seen enough headlines that it was in my subconscious to ignore them in general. I’ll probably read it, maybe , sometime eventually when I’m bored lol. But I’m curious what it’s saying. Without reading it I presumed it was saying the government was using evangelicals to push misinformation about vaccines and covid and by misinformation they mean scientific consensus. So it was conspiracy in my mind to begin with before reading it. But I’ll check it out.

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Crazy stuff about Francis Collins experimenting on live babies and teaming up with Fauci to invent COVID. I mean, please.

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Note too, that the Daily Wire didn’t even publish this as a news story, it’s “opinion.” Not investigative journalism.

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I’ve experimented on live babies before too xd. We were seeing which berries they liked lol.

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I think this is more of an attack on science in general than anything specific.

A lot of people attack science for all sorts of reasons, but they all have one thing in common. Science provides us with some powerful tools and methods to help us to fact-check people’s claims, and a lot of people are threatened by that, especially if they have agendas – especially political or commercial interests – to promote. So generally they’re going to do anything they can to undermine public confidence in science.

Some of them do this by attacking science outright as a whole. (If you’ve ever been accused of “putting your trust in secular science” or “having more faith in science than in God” by people in your church, you’ll know what I mean). Some of them do it by attacking redefining science to let them accept the bits that they like while rejecting the bits that they don’t. Some of them employ experts-for-hire to cherry-pick data and twist it to conform to their agenda. (This is what the oil industry does with climate change deniers, and what Big Tobacco did a generation ago.) And some of them attack individual scientists or pro-science organisations. That is what was going on with Answers in Genesis’s accusations against BioLogos of “heresy and false teaching,” and it is what is going on here.

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Thanks. That’s exactly what I’m going to do and not even read it.

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Working with religious leaders who are trusted in their communities is an important and effective technique in public health outreach campaigns, including vaccination campaigns. It’s been done repeatedly with imams during polio vaccination campaigns in West Africa and Pakistan with good results. Why shouldn’t the US do it here, too? Admittedly, US evangelicals seem to be more resistant to science and public health measures than Nigerian and Pakistani Muslims, but one has to try.

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I love the way the title of that article was cut off,”How the Federal Gov’t Used Evangelical Leaders to Spread Covid…”. Hmmm, that conspiracy theory is something I might could get behind…

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There were some very effective super-spreaders among them. But Ed Stetzer, Tim Keller, Russell Moore, and Rick Warren weren’t them.

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The Daily Wire is a culture war dumpster fire. The author rehashes the Rand Paul conspiracy theories about the NIH, Fauci, and the Wuhan lab, then she pushes the evangelical hot-buttons of abortion and LGBTQ. The NIH has funded research that uses fetal tissue from abortions! The NIH has funded research on “sexual and gender minorities”! (Clutches pearls!)

The Q-adjacent Rand Paul theory isn’t worth discussing. On the rest, the author of the hit piece doesn’t really appreciate what it means to head a federal agency that spends $28 billion a year on research. Dr. Collins doesn’t personally approve every grant that goes through. That would be like the CEO of Bank of America personally approving every loan application. Grants have to work their way through a long process of approvals, and getting the green light depends on the scientific/medical merits of the application at every step. If someone can’t understand the need to study and better understand “sexual and gender minorities” at this moment in our history, I honestly can’t help them. As far as fetal tissue research, here’s a pre-Trump era article that explains it better than I can. (I have no idea about Dr. Collins’ opinion on abortion or fetal tissue research, by the way.)

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Using many of the same advertising companies.

Except for Francis Collins, I’ve never heard of the rest of these people, and only one of the media sources, but don’t know anything about it. I can’t keep up with real reporting much less what the screaming hot heads are saying.

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I am not a subsciber to the Daily Wire, but know it’s reputation as being far right wing. I follow both conservative and progressive people on Twitter. I saw conservative Twitter passing it around and paid for the article.

Basham attempts to not only throw Francis Collins under the bus, but also a whole host of evangelical leaders by association. As pointed out, it was opinion and there was a clear attempt to take someone down. However, there are a few facts thrown in that really bothered me. It is a fact that under Francis Collins, NIH paid for some research that goes against traditional Christian values. It is also a fact that Collins was heading a secular organization, and secular orginazations will obviously fund things that go
against Christian values. (As for sourcing on this, it is science.org, given a “high” factual rating from media bias and other media assesment websites). I am not sure how much Collins knew about these different projects, but I think it also doesn’t matter. Where I come down on it is, I don’t know that I could have done better had I been in his shoes.

As I was wrestling with this this past weekend, it just so happened that I was reading about Joseph. I’ve always thought of him as the “good guy”, maybe because he has always been preached to me that way. He struggled with pride in his youth, but then he was humbled and became this great man of God. But with this on my mind, it struck me that Joseph was actually exploitative. He took all of their money and when they couldn’t pay anymore, he took all of their land. I don’t know what kind of moral guidance he had on this, and maybe it isn’t fair to hold him to modern standards, or even later Biblical standards, but still, I don’t know that what he did was objectively good. I’m not saying Collins is terrible, or equating him with Joseph. I just think we need to make room for leaders who are not perfect, because no one is perfect, right?

Another thought on all of this is, I do wish Collins had gone ahead and done the interview with Basham instead of bowing out because of “tone”. What does that even mean?? Even here in this thread, I see moderators saying others are “ignorant” because they may have legitimate questions about this. I don’t think this is a good tone to have. I also see a lot of “bashing” of the source instead of dealing with the facts Basham does include and a generally dismissive attitude. I am in a deep red state, and to be honest, this is one of the reasons why there are a lot of uneducated people who feel resentful. I understand also that sometimes “just asking questions” is used as an excuse to dismiss evidence, but these tones and attitudes definitely will not bridge any possible gap.

This all makes me think of the lengths different Christian institutions have gone recently to protect leaders because they were afraid of the damage it would do to legacies or the “witness” or growth or whatever. I see a lot of evangelical leaders like the two Moores, French, Wright, DuMez, et al building a kind of new Christian network. I am totally behind these people, their points, and what they are doing. I’m behind Biologos and have recommended the site to people and will continue to do so after this. I do hope, though, that we are not just replacing the “Moral Majority” leaders with “More of the Same”. I hope that we can objectively deal with leaders and their ambiguities and face them head on, trusting God with the results and with the “growth”.

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What are some of the legitimate questions people have that you would like answered?

What facts do you think should be addressed?

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I agree, though I have not found many in my church who will agree with me. I might even go so far as to say his actions and the actions of his family in abandoning the promised land and staying in Egypt, are the cause of the 400 years of slavery that followed.

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So, who says God doesn’t “cause all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Only reason for unhappiness then, must be with God’s timing.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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