Much of the world remains in the thrall of Covid-19. Not only are loved ones dying and large numbers of people unemployed, but depression is on the rise. To glean positive news from this situation requires contortions of the mind comparable to the physical feats of a performer at Cirque du Soleil. Nonetheless, a few bits of good news do exist. Globally, we are experiencing improved air and water quality. Our new devotion to good hygiene and healthy diets to support the immune system can’t hurt. Drive-in movies, an almost dead industry, are enjoying a revival, providing entertainment while keeping risk down.
What we may have overlooked on previous accountings is the effect the virus has had on ballot initiatives. The decline of people at large events makes gathering signatures difficult. (“A Pandemic Side Effect” Tamara Lytle, AARP Bulletin, Sept. 2020, Vo. 61, No. 7, pg. 11.)
If these fruits seem meager to working men and women, let us at least give credit to the rich who find ways to reap large personal benefits, including our president, Donald Trump. As 2020 is an election year he is canny enough to share some of this largess with a key constituent: the churches. We all know that giving taxpayer money to religious institutions is illegal, Trump has torn that wall before. This time, under the Cares Act, provisions meant to assist small businesses, he is making this money available to churches. So far, he as held two phone conferences with clergy to explain how the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) can benefit them.
FFRF under the Freedom of Information Act has obtained these phone recordings and made them public. (“Secret White House Calls…” Special Report, Free Thought Today, Sept. 2020, Vol. 37. No. 7, pps. 1, 5.) To this point, religious organizations have collected $7.3 billion, $3.5 billion of that amount going to the Catholic Church, which no doubt could use some relief, given their legal fees over the past few years. These loans can be forgiven as long as the borrower complies with the program’s provision to keep people working. In the case of clergy, that shouldn’t be difficult.
Trump’s political pandering in these tapes is overt enough to make a pole dancer blush. At one point, he proclaims he is the “best [president] the Catholic Church had ever seen..” (Ibid, pg. 9.)
Would that he had taken such care of his country. Nearly 200,000 citizens are dead from the virus and the numbers continue to climb. He receives this news with a shrug. “I take no responsibility.”