You’ve heard it many times throughout this pandemic: “We’re all in this together.” It’s a crucial bit of bumper-sticker-sized wisdom—right alongside “flatten the curve” and the all-important “wash your hands”—and it reminds us that the choices we make as individuals have an enormous impact on everyone else.
Take the example of face masks, which have gone from hotly sought-after protective accessories to tribal signifiers. As we’ll see this week, the choice to wear a mask speaks volumes about one’s concern for the people around us.
Speaking of stories, the Supreme Court is considering competing narratives about church-state separation and religious privilege, and it looks as though the justices may be swayed toward giving even more special exemptions reserved only for religious groups. As Linda Greenhouse in the New York Times observes, “The belief that ‘we’re all in this society together’ is fraying rapidly enough without the Supreme Court’s help.”
President Trump has shown he is all too eager to give religious groups all the special privileges he possibly can at the expense of everyone else, but his “demand” last week that states allow churches to reopen might be the worst example yet. Interestingly, his willingness to sacrifice the health of so many Americans might be spurred by the fear that he’s beginning to lose face with religious voters. Plus, we’ll look at a new development in Wisconsin, where religious privilege results in discrimination against atheists in marriage law.
One religious group that Trump probably couldn’t lose if he tried is not technically a religious group at all but the amorphous generator of conspiracy theories known as QAnon. They’re less “we’re all in this together” and more “they’re all out to get us.” We’ll explore what drives this movement’s adherents and how it has twisted itself into something resembling a church.
And while we are all in this together, there may be folks out there upon whom we can have no impact whatsoever: those who exist in parallel universes. Recent headlines tantalized us with the possibility that the barrier between these theoretical planes of existence had been ever-so-slightly broken, but a dose of good science will show us what was really found when scientists from two different experiments worked, of course, together.
We’re glad to be in this universe with you.
Robyn E. Blumner,
CEO and President, Center for Inquiry
Executive Director, Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science