TED Talk Evangelicalism: From Moral Equivalency to Essential Oils

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Gabe Lyons, evangelical influencer

When Gabe Lyons, host of the 2020 Q Virtual Summit, invited David French and Eric Metaxas to debate the merits of Donald Trump I wrote (among other things):

There is a kind of moral equivalence in Lyons’s introduction that bothers me. I know that there are many white evangelicals who voted for Trump, probably far more than did not, but I have yet to be convinced that this is a debate between two thoughtful Christian positions. In other words, I am not sure this is a time for civility as much as it is a time for the church to speak with a prophetic voice. A time for civility and the healing of wounds will come again, but now is not that time.

And now this:

A Christian group hosted talks promoting what experts say are unfounded claims that alternative health methods such as practicing gratitude and consuming essential oils can combat or even prevent contracting the novel coronavirus, sparking pushback from at least one ally of the group.

The talks took place on platforms affiliated with Gabe Lyons and his wife, Rebekah, both of whom are influential evangelical Christian authors and speakers. The two founded Q, which is described on its website as “a learning community that mobilizes Christians to advance the common good in society.” The organization hosts an annual conference that resembles TED Talks and features prominent Christian speakers, as well as business leaders, politicians and entertainers. Videos of the talks and affiliated podcasts are distributed via apps to digital devices such as Apple TV.

Lyons recently hosted two coronavirus-themed conversations with Joshua Axe, who is listed as a chiropractor and nutritionist on his website, which sells a wide variety of alternative health supplements such as essential oils. The website does not describe Axe as an expert on epidemiology, but it does boast that his company, Axe Wellness, has won accolades in Tennessee. The nature of his practice is unclear: the state’s Department of Health lists his chiropractic license as expired as of 2013.

The first conversation occurred on a Feb. 28 episode of the “Rhythms for Life” podcast, a reference to Rebekah Lyons’ book “Rhythms of Renewal,” which is described as outlining methods to “overcome anxiety with daily habits that strengthen you mentally and physically.”

In the podcast conversation with Gabe Lyons, Axe downplayed the threat of the novel coronavirus by claiming “we’ve actually had worse threats in the past,” suggested the pharmaceutical industry and “the media” benefit from “driving fear” around the pandemic and claimed he has “complete confidence” that he could either avoid infection from the coronavirus or defeat it in a few days by boosting his immune system through alternative methods such as ingesting ginger tea and oregano oil.

“I’m in complete confidence that if I’m exposed to the coronavirus that either I won’t get it, or if I do get it, that, hey, it will be a few days and I’ll be fine afterwards,” he said. “Because when your immune system is strong — God designed our bodies to fight viruses. And that’s the thing: For me, it’s an attitude and mentality of faith over fear.”

Read the rest in Jack Jenkins’s piece at Religion News Service.