A Christian singer-songwriter said she’s fed up with fellow believers who act as if wearing masks during the coronavirus pandemic is an assault on their rights.
Nichole Nordeman, an Oklahoma-based musician, was compelled to speak out on Friday after experiencing a family tragedy.
In an early morning tweet, Nordeman revealed that her aunt had died just eight hours after being diagnosed with COVID-19 on Thursday. The death happened before Nordeman’s mother could reach her aunt’s living facility to pray through the window, the singer said.
“But please tell me more about how wearing a mask is such an assault on your rights,” she wrote. “Tell me about all your big offended feelings that the government is trying to control your life, your faith, your freedom and worship.”
“I have run out of incredulity and disgust,” she said.
Under the leadership of President Donald Trump actions recommended by health officials to combat the spread of COVID-19 ― things like wearing a mask and avoiding large indoor gatherings ― have become deeply politicized issues.
A significant proportion (39%) of white evangelicals ― Trump’s most loyal religious supporters ― say that shutdowns, mask mandates and other steps taken by state and local governments since the coronavirus pandemic began are unreasonable attempts to control people, according to a Public Religion Research Institute survey published in October. White evangelicals are more likely to say this than any other religious group, PRRI reported.
The contemporary Christian music world Nordeman hails from has deep ties to white evangelical culture. Many of the artists in this music scene have either stayed silent about whether or not they approved of Trump’s actions and policies over the past four years ― or they’ve been willing to come right out and boldly support him. It’s rarer for musicians from that world to be openly critical of Trump, as Nordeman has been.
Nordeman had a considerable presence in the contemporary Christian music world in the early 2000s, winning multiple Gospel Music Association Dove Awards, the Christian music industry’s equivalent to the Grammys. After taking a hiatus to focus on her personal life, she released her fifth studio album, “Every Mile Mattered,” in 2017. She’s still writing and recording music while also serving as worship arts minister at a United Methodist Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Most evangelical Christians agree that churches should follow the same rules about social distancing and large gatherings as other organizations or businesses in their local area. Dozens of Christian leaders — including Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health —have called on fellow believers to follow the advice of public health experts during the pandemic.
Still, conservative Christian activists, pastors and legal firms have been leading the charge against coronavirus restrictions on churches ― filing lawsuits against worship restrictions in various states and even openly flouting local rules. One Christian musician, Sean Feucht, has drawn hundreds of often-maskless worshippers to events across the country to protest what he has called “unprecedented” attacks on the “freedom to worship God and obey His Word.”
Nordeman hasn’t been shy about calling out Feucht or other Christians who disregard public officials’ health orders.
“I am weary of fabricated ‘persecution’ narratives,” she tweeted in September, responding to one of Feucht’s posts about a protest event in Chicago. “Worship doesn’t require self orchestrated chaos.”
Leaders are charged with shepherding their people well, communicating both hope and reality, she wrote in March. Refusing to submit to experts’ guidelines “is not standing your ground against Satan, it’s choosing not to love and protect the most vulnerable neighbors in your flock.”
“Let me remind you that God’s presence has never been and never will be contained in a building,” she tweeted.