Nino Vitale, a Republican state representative from Ohio, does not agree with the Ohio governor’s decision to require residents to wear face masks when entering businesses. The edict is fairly standard, after all, there is a global pandemic afoot, perhaps unbeknownst to Rep. Vitale, and in order to slow the spread of a deadly virus, folks across the United States are wearing face masks in public or staying at home until Judgment Day. But for Rep. Vitale, donning a mask is an unconscionable ask, akin to forcing Americans to abandon their religion. “This is the greatest nation on earth founded on Judeo-Christian Principles,” he wrote in an anti-mask rant announced on his Facebook page. “One of those principles is that we are all created in the image and likeness of God. That image is seen the most by our face. I will not wear a mask.”
Let’s pretend, for a moment, that everyone in America really does abide by Judeo-Christian principles: The “image and likeness of God” references in the Bible are allegorical. It speaks to mankind’s dominion over the earth and animals and the promise of eternal life; it does not literally mean that if I look at Rep. Vitale’s face I will see a trace of God’s face, which is notoriously unavailable for viewing. This idea willfully chooses to misinterpret this one portion of the Bible, taking a polarizing stance to appeal to the group of voters railing against what they see as oppressive government intervention. For the more conservative voters in his base, things like shelter-in-place orders and face masks are an afront to their God-given rights as Americans, so it’s convenient to back-up such claims by using the Bible and removing all relevant context.
Rep. Vitale, who apparently isn’t just a theologian but a scientist, also railed against a local doctor who supported masks in public, “This is not based on logic,” he wrote. “This is based on fear and propaganda and every statistical, data-driven study done in the last 2 weeks says death counts are low, the models were wrong, and this is more like the flu.” According to the New York Times, more than 68,000 people have died from coronavirus. More than a thousand of them lived in Ohio. There are over a million cases reported in the U.S as of this morning. So maybe, instead of being like God, Vitale should advise his constituents to be nice human beings and suffer the minor inconvenience of a face mask to give other people a better chance at living.