The Ritual Masking of America
All authoritarian societies are built on the idea that whole categories of people are inherently unhealthy.
To contain outbreaks of plagues, physical or mental, authoritarian governments create labyrinths of regulations and laws in order to safeguard the “health” of their domains.
During the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, as repressive regimes seized vast areas of the world, their leaders established severe regimens formerly characteristic of the deeply religious. The habits of strict religious orders were simply retrofitted to suit secular regimes. Practices rejected as useless superstitions, such as fasting, prayer and sacramental rituals were replaced with equally severe routines. Rigorous calisthenics performed in fresh air, natural foods, and detailed public sanitation measures imitated and replaced former spiritual rituals meant to deal with the health of the soul. Socialist, fascist and communist societies saw a transference to the material realm what had once been characteristic of the spiritual realm. It was considered better to preserve the body and lose the soul.
While the disastrous measures of the Third Reich usually receive the most intense scrutiny, the health measures instituted by the Soviet Union deserve a look. Even today, despite the unhealthy predations of Stalin on the Russian peoples, the health laws of the former USSR are still held up as a model for the world. Carlos Rule, spokesman for the Stalinist Society stated:
“As the basis for its activity in the sphere of protecting people’s health, the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) considers primarily the implementation of extensive health-building and sanitary measures with the object of preventing the incidence of disease. Accordingly, the RCP(B) makes its immediate task:
1. To carry through resolutely extensive sanitary measures in the interests of the working people, such as:
a) improvement of health conditions in populated places (protection of soil, water and air from pollution),
b) organization of public catering on a scientific and hygienic basis,
c) launching of measures to prevent the outbreak and spread of infectious diseases,
d) creating a code of health legislation. (Italics mine.)
Rules and regulations concerning public health are nothing particularly new, as the authoritarian ancient world had its own social categories based on health. One of the most vilified were lepers. The practices put into effect against them were supposed to maintain the spiritual and physical health of broader society. No extreme was considered too draconian.
The gospel of Matthew records Jesus was approached by a leper:
“When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, ‘Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.’ Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy.”
Francois P. Viljoen points out in his scholarly article “Jesus healing the leper and the Purity Law in the Gospel of Matthew:
“Being contagious and unclean persons, lepers were supposed to isolate themselves from others, demonstrate their impurity and warn people of their illness. They had to wear torn clothes, let their hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of their faces and shout ‘Unclean! Unclean!’” [Italics mine.]
It’s fairly clear by now that the vast majority of Americans have been made leprous outcasts even while still living within their own society. Citizens have been cordoned off into their domiciles and in Joe Biden’s plan, not permitted to go out without a mask covering the lower part of their faces as a signifier of their potential lethality to their fellow human being.
When outside their homes, most Americans are required to sit, stand or shuffle at least six feet apart from one another -- much as lepers in Christ’s time were required to stand at least sixteen feet from everyone else. So far no one has been required to shout, “Unclean!”
Even were Americans to be unmasked tomorrow by decree from the increasingly absolutist states most of us presently live in, it’s apparent that the masking of Americans has gone beyond any genuine health issue and has devolved into a signifier of castes having societal purity.
As Viljoen points out concerning the societal stratification of Christ’s time:
“The religious community has two spheres: the generally pure area and the holy area. Within the holy area, no impurity is permitted. The religious community lives within the generally pure area. Some impurities can be rectified within this sphere by way of proper adherence to specified purification rituals.”
America’s ritualistic purity laws bear a striking resemblance to the laws concerning lepers in ancient Israel of the time of Christ and to the health laws of communist Russia. As happened in those societies, regulations have become a means of separating out unhealthy intruders from the inner circle of governing authority. Meanwhile, the elite and their ardent firebrands remained pure; and being powerfully and ritualistically pure, were enabled to operate freely without the possibility of the putrefaction characteristic of those outside their camp.
Purity rituals now extend to almost the entire populace and to every aspect of life. Go to get food at a grocery store and violate the mask or social distancing rule, and you will be called out by the reigning religious authorities -- much as Jesus was when he and his disciples were rebuked for gathering and eating grain on the Sabbath.
If you dare to go outside the parameters permitted you, be it travel to another state or to the dentist, the ritual priests will test you to see if you are fit, taking your temperature, testing for antibodies, and then pronouncing you clean or unclean. Go to church and be masked, socially distanced and don’t dare sing.
Persist in your transgressions and you will be at least temporarily cut out of the community by having to live outside the camp until you are healed. You will be a leper.
As Viljoen writes: “…[S]uch impurity must be cut out of the community…and be expelled to the impure area.”
He notes the healing of the leper meant complete re-entry into society:
“To understand the impact of this desired healing, one has to consider what healing implied in the ancient Mediterranean world − healing involved more than physical healing from a disease. Even today, healing implies the restoration of the total wellbeing of a person…This includes the restoration of meaning of life and honor. A healed person can again fully participate in societal activities. Jesus…restored the leper’s social stance and gave him new meaning in life.”
For leftist power brokers who follow the ancient authoritarian model or the Soviet model of health care, there is great value in creating a caste system in which everyone is potentially ill; in which no one is ever quite healed. Such are dispensable.
The Coronavirus has provided the extreme left with a reason to create a huge class of outcasts while also affording the opportunity to fundamentally transform society. Those who previously had been designated as outcasts, including those considering themselves to be disempowered in any way, may now find themselves uniquely qualified to enter the holy circle of the pure.
Ominously, also now outside the camp are those who were once powerful authority figures, namely, the police and the military who were appointed to confront and contain the dark side of society.
But even more worrying, in states like Maryland one’s neigh-bor is encouraged to snitch on neo-lepers who endanger public health, as happened in the USSR and East Germany. This is to say nothing of those designated as having leprous minds by Twitter, YouTube and Facebook’s determiners of mental health. Spies now determine who belongs outside social discourse because of criminal thoughts and “hate” speech -- which is generally defined as any speaking or writing that opposes the left.
In fact, the leftist elite believe that America’s moral health was compromised irrevocably by the events of 1619, the introduction of slavery now seen as irredeemable original sin. So inherently leprous is America and the West in general that all diseased institutions and cities need to be set on fire, much as physicians once cauterized gangrene.
Rest assured the establishment of the new caste system will continue after the fires. The current virus has set the template for future government dictates. Other diseases will follow Covid-19. More citizens will be placed outside the camp and more kulaks of private enterprise will be destroyed. Society will continue to require purification until the last virus of bad thinking is exterminated.
As the purifiers busily perform their necessary work, is there anyone who actually may be healed?
If like the athletes of football teams, a person kneels before authority of the left and performs the appropriate rituals of obeisance, he or she may be healed. Much as the lepers knelt before the Son of God in order to be cleansed, if anyone kneels like an acolyte at the feet of the gods who see themselves as reconstructing society after destroying it, one may -- if one continues to submit -- find the gods accept worship. They may even touch the lepers. Some may even be accorded entrance into the holy circle as servants of the holy pilgrims on their way to building the New Jerusalem.
There is a true healing possible for our nation.
But it does not lie with the destruction of civil life and health the postmodern anarchical devotees offer as remedies necessary for ushering in the New Order.
It lies in the Judeo-Christian foundations of our nation. It lies with a body of government that has self-rectifying mechanisms. It lies with the permeable and flexible class system that allows merit and effort to determine one’s rise. It lies in a Constitution that allows reform while not permitting the annihilation of the Union.
It lies in the belief that no man or woman has to be a supplicant kneeling before a fellow citizen. It lies in the conviction that each man and woman must be free to exercise his or her religion without interference from the State. It lies in the conviction that beings made in God’s image kneel in supplication and plead for restoration before God alone.
Though at times its adherents have woefully transgressed the principles they profess, believers in the Judeo-Christian worldview hold to the belief that no one need permanently be a leper outside the camp; that healing of mind, body and spirit is available through the grace of God; that within the kingdom of God there is freedom.
Photo credit: YouTube screen grab (cropped(
Fay Voshell holds a M.Div. from Princeton theological Seminary, which awarded her the prize for excellence in systematic theology. Her thoughts have appeared in many online magazines, including American Thinker, where she has been a regular contributor for a decade. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org