Mask Up: It’s Pro-Life
by Sophie Trist and Alex Christian Lucas
First section by Sophie Trist:
In Japan, where the culture emphasizes communal welfare over individualism, wearing masks is common even outside of a global pandemic. Japanese people often wear surgical masks if they have a common cold, to reduce their chances of spreading germs to others. In countries where wearing masks, and the mentality of sacrificing comfort and convenience for the community, are commonplace, Covid-19 cases and fatalities remain relatively low. In America, where wearing a mask has become politicized, we’ve lost over 130,000 people, more than the number of Americans killed in the Vietnam and Korean wars combined.
Information about Covid-19 is constantly evolving, but the CDC and WHO unequivocally agree that wearing a mask saves lives. Masking is the most pro-life thing we can do in this current moment.
Masking Statistics and Controversy
The politicized movement against face masks sprang from the protests against shutdowns and stay-at-home orders which swept across America in April and May, often led by far-right and white nationalist groups. Anti-mask sentiment stems from the belief that the Covid-19 pandemic has been exaggerated or outright fabricated for political gain or that wearing a mask shows weakness.
Viewing masks as a sign of weakness is a slap in the face to immuno-compromised and disabled people who need to wear face masks, and perhaps more importantly, need us to wear them, in order to survive.
Instead of a simple and life-saving sacrifice, some Republican politicians and their followers see face masks as an attack on individual liberty. In Texas, a group of legislators and GOP activists filed a lawsuit to block Governor Greg Abbott’s mask mandate. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp issued an executive order barring cities from requiring face masks and sued the city of Atlanta when they did anyway. While ill with Covid-19, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry railed against Governor John Bel Edwards’s recent mask mandate, arguing that it is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced, ignoring the Constitution’s clause to “promote the general Welfare.” Some people wear ineffective mesh masks and abuse the Americans with Disabilities Act to justify not wearing a mask, presenting bogus, quasi-medical documents to assert “their right” to endanger others.
Our Most Unalienable Right
According to the CDC, near-universal masking could bring the Covid-19 pandemic under control in just one or two months, saving thousands of lives. In refusing to make this small, common-sense sacrifice for community well-being, anti-maskers are prioritizing their own comfort and an ableist semblance of strength over other people’s very lives.
They dismiss Covid-19’s one percent fatality rate, ignoring the fact that one percent of the American population is over three million people, each of whom has infinite value and worth.
Our Declaration of Independence states that we have three unalienable rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Foremost among these is the right to life, because without it, all other rights are meaningless.
Those who refuse to do their part in slowing the spread of Covid-19 are effectively denying other people’s right to life. If wearing a piece of cloth over your face will save even one life, it is worth it.
Second section by Alex Christian Lucas:
Masking, Christian Ethics, and the Consistent Life Ethic
My mom runs an Intensive Care Unit in one of New Orleans’s largest hospital systems. Since mid-March, I have seen firsthand the physical exhaustion and emotional devastation Covid-19 has wrought not only on patients, but also on my mom, her staff, and other healthcare professionals as they lose multiple patients a day.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, over a hundred and sixty nurses have died from Covid-19. Knowing that any one of those nurses could have been my mom, and knowing that masks are statistically proven to save lives, the fact that so many refuse to take this simple measure is mind-boggling.
Many citizens, especially certain groups of Christians who consider themselves pro-life, state that masking, limiting the number of church attendees, and not singing at services are violations of their personal freedom and religious rights. My first question is: Exactly what right of yours is being violated and how? God doesn’t become any smaller because we wear masks and temporarily don’t worship through our voices in public out of love for our neighbors.
Science has proven that large crowds and singing are super-spreaders of the virus. Asking you to perform your daily activities or church services more safely is not a violation of your freedom or religious rights; it is sheer common sense to comply with these guidelines for the safety of others.
I am a devout Catholic and a professional singer. Amid these restrictions, I still go to Church every weekend wearing a mask, and I haven’t sung unmasked in a public setting since mid-March (which is hard, trust me).
Wearing a mask isn’t about you; it’s about others. It’s a not-so-radical act of love and Christian charity to place the health of our neighbors above our own comfort. Remember Jesus saying “Love thy neighbor as thyself?” If Jesus can sacrifice his life on a cross for us, we can sacrifice out of love for him by wearing a little piece of fabric over our mouths and noses.
Even if it were a violation of your civil rights or religious freedom, masking is the Christian thing to do; Paul says that even though we have free will, we should use that free will to witness to Christ’s love for others: “Although I am free in regard to all, I have made myself a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible” (1 Corinthians 9:19).
Stop using quasi-patriotism, unfounded politicization, and faux religiosity to justify not wearing a mask, which puts others’ lives at risk. Realize that masking is not about you.
When it comes to Covid-19, we must show the same reverence and defense for life that we extend toward the unborn to all born people in our broader society.
Masking is a small daily sacrifice we can make to love our neighbors and witness to Christ’s love. If we’re going to call ourselves a pro-life people, we must love and defend all lives, especially the poor and vulnerable among us.
For more posts on our Covid-19 coverage, see: