“The Cult of Coronavirus. Like all religions, it has its own sacraments, its own sacred texts…” These are some of the words influential US right-wing figure Tucker Carlson used in his opening segment of Sept. 27, 2021.
With these words he steps firmly into calling the Corona phenomenon a religion, or “cult,” in essentially literal terms.
Tucker is now catching up with this website (Hail to You)’s position of sixteen months ago. We argued, back then, that “Covid” was a literal religious cult (investigative-essay published May 18, 2020).
Following this is some further introductory commentary by me (900 words) and then the Tucker transcript (1100 words). (Or, jump to Tucker Carlson transcript and video.)
In my May 2020 essay, I approached the question — of whether “Corona” was classifiable as a religion — academically and not polemically. I found that the social-phenomenon that was “Corona,” involving fear of the flu-virus and the major disruptions to life associated with it and major social mobilization and intense emotions and more, it all qualified under anthropology as a religion.
The “Corona as Religion” idea had first come to me in early April 2020. I wrote the “Is Corona a Religious Cult?” essay-investigation in mid-May 2020, the fullest-form and most-seriously-approached investigation I had seen anywhere on the topic then-to-date. Few others at the time were talking in those terms, but in the subsequent sixteen months, many more have. It feels to me like autumn 2020 was a turning-point towards many more people calling Covid a “religion” or some variant.
Tucker(‘s writing team) now uses some of the same phrasing and imagery used here in May 2020, including some exact-same phrasing, including “the Corona Cult,” undoubtedly independently coined many times, but among the first-ever appearances was on the pages of Hail To You.
Google Trends thinks the first appearance of the phrase “Corona Cult” was on or about Feb. 13, 2020, at which time the Anti-Panic side was still very much in control, overlooking events from a position of confidence and strength, but also in retrospect entirely too confident and sluggish. A virus-centered apocalypse cult had made major strides in the past five or so weeks by mid-February 2020. It had started on the extreme conspiracy fringes and by mid-February began threatening to broach into the mainstream, which it did in March 2020, the blackest month in Western history in living memory.
Google Trends then suggests steady appearances of the phrase “Corona Cult” up until March 17, 2020, after which it faded to undetectable levels, aligned with the full retreat of Anti-Panic forces at the time. “Corona Cult” mostly stayed at zero (undetectable levels) until May 18/19, coincidentally the two-days on which “Is Corona a Religious Cult” appeared here at Hail To You. From this I take it that my essay on Corona treated as an anthropological-cultural phenomenon worth study as a New Religion, was among the first in the post-CoronaPanic-breakthrough era to push the idea. That it is now common among the Anti-Panic side is refreshing vindication. A variant phrase, “the Covidian Cult,” enters Google Trends in a strong way after C. J. Hopkins published an influential essay with that title (Oct. 2020; two follow-ups, most recently with The Covidian Cult, Part III, Sept. 2021.)
In the three-way split on the Corona-Panic issue, namely between the Pro-Panic side, the Neutrals, and the Anti-Panic side, the Pro-Panic side formed the core of the religion. They held sway over the Neutrals, who acquiesced to the new religion (and some degree of “trusting their betters” was in effect). As for us of the Anti-Panic side, we were shoved into the role of heretics, blasphemers, or pagans. How dare you question the Panic? You must be wicked, bamboozled, or deranged, or all three.
This all might seem to straddle the line between metaphor and literal, especially as interpreted by a reader not reading closely. To be clear, I do think “Covid” ended up a literal (non-metaphorical) religion, so-classifiable according to established practice on such things within the fields of anthropology of archaeology, as explained in the “Is Corona a Religious Cult?” essay.
Before moving into the transcription of the Tucker monologue, I should add here that Tucker Carlson himself was an early promoter of the Corona Religion, when it mattered most — March, April, and even drifting into May 2020, and though he eventually defected, he was not the relatively hardline Anti-Panicker he is now until much later. At some point, he became not just a skeptic but one of the leading Anti-Panic voices with a national, semi-mainstream audience. I am not sure when or why or how he flipped.
Tucker is the most-watched cable-news commentary show and in our globalized Internet era, he even has something of a modest global reach. That Tucker and his writing staff have come out firing on all cylinders for the Anti-Panic side is worth attention.
It’s worth it to revisit to the thesis (“Covid” as primarily religious phenomenon) now, late September 2021, at the +18-month mark after the breakthrough of the Covid Cult (March 2020). Weather is still fair in the agenda-setting regions of the West, but with winter fast approaching now, the Cult might well get another six months of life at least, and having committed so much to the Corona Cult, there doesn’t seem to be any easy exit, like anyone caught in a possessive cult that seeks to control your actions.
On the Tucker writers. Tucker’s is a team of highbrow right-wingers, with whom he works on these monologues. They present us with an 1500-or-so word essay interspliced with some video, presented on TV/video over a ten-minute period. I’ve cut some tangential parts and present here an 1100-word version, consumable to a strong reader in four minutes flat, with no need for any videohosting, sound, or computing power. (These monologues, in any case, are 80% just spoken words of political- or cultural-commentary essays.)
And now here is my transcription of the Tucker Carlson Tonight opening monologue, leading the 8pm hour US Eastern Time, Sept 27, 2021:
TUCKER CARLSON ON THE “CORONA CULT”
[Tucker Carlson:] Politicians used the pandemic across the country to close thousands of churches and throw Christians in prison for practicing their faith. Here was the scene, for example, last fall in Idaho. Police arrested a congregation for singing hymns outdoors.
[A video shows several dozen people singing hymns in what appears to be a church parking lot. One by one they are arrested by teams of masked police. It becomes clear the arrestees expect to be arrested; they offer no physical resistance. A tall young man is silently escorted off, handcuffed, as the hymn continues.]
[Tucker Carlson continues:] That tape will be studied by future generations of historians to try and figure out what was going on.
What did these people do wrong?
They publicly affirmed their belief in a power higher than government. That’s not allowed.
Fewer and fewer Americans do that, or even think to. But that does not mean — and this is the critical point — that does NOT mean that this has become a secular country.
There are no “secular countries.” Just as there are no “secular people.” Everybody believes in something. All of us are born with a need to worship. The question is worship what.
So, no America has not lost its religion. It has just replaced its religion. What’s dying is the faith that created Western civilization, Christianity. In its place is a new creed. And like all religions, it has its own sacraments, its own sacred texts. It’s the Cult of Coronavirus.
Kathy Hochul is one of the high-priestesses of this new faith. She’s the governor of New York. No one voted for her as governor and that seems odd for a politician. But it’s typical for a faith leader. No one voted for Jim Jones, either.
Yesterday, Kathy Hochul held her first service as the leader of the New York diocese of the Corona Cult. Around her she wore, not a cross — that’s yesterday‘s symbol — but instead a vaccination necklace. That necklace signified to the faithful gathered that Hochul has ascended to the select priesthood of those who have taken full intravenous communion.
Listen to Bishop Hochul preach:
[Video of interim governor Kathy Hochul]: “And I wear my vaccination necklace all the time to say ‘I’m vaccinated.’ All of you: Yes, I know you’re vaccinated. You’re the smart ones, but you know there’s people out there who aren’t listening to God, aren’t listening to what God wants. You know this. You know who they are.
I need YOU to be my apostles. I need you to go out and talk about it, and say, ‘We owe this to each other, we love each other! Jesus taught us to love one another! And how do you show that love but to care about each other enough to say, Please get vaccinated because I love you. I want you to live.” [End video from interim governor Kathy Hochul].
[Tucker Carlson:] “How do you show your love to one another? The old way was to visit people, say, in the hospital, as they died. That’s no longer allowed. The new way is to get The Vaxx.
God Himself wants you to take the vaccine. ‘I need you to be my apostles!’, Hochul thundered. No one comes to the Father except through The Shot. Sinners in the hands of an angry healthcare worker.
At the pulpit, Kaythy Hochul […] seemed suddenly transformed. A ‘transfiguration,’ if you will. Standing there, she wasn’t merely a mediocre and unelected governor of a dying state with bad weather, no. [Laughs.] Hochul was the Vaccine Messiah, preaching the undying word of Saint Anthony Fauci. Can I get an ‘Amen!’ ladies and gentlemen?
It may seem unlikely to those of you used to the older faiths, but many are joining this new Church. And for $39 right now on Amazon, you too can join a sterling silver necklace that declares that YOU have been vaccinated. Literally declares it! Just spells out in cursive: VACCINATED. There’s no mistaking what an incredibly good person you are. Everyone will see it.
You can also buy vaccination bracelets, and vaccination pins, and vaccination earrings; vaccination shirts, vaccination socks — It’s all at Kathy Hochul’s church giftshop.
And while you’re shopping, be certain to pick up a Tony Fauci Prayer Candle. In fact, get TWO. All good, decent people have more than one. For just fifteen bucks at Etsy, you can buy a “Patron Saint of Staying Home” prayer candle. That’s a real thing. We read the reviews today. Here’s one of them. ‘LOVE IT! I think I may have to set up a little altar to place it on!’ There’s a new convert.
Here’s another review from a woman called Kelly Hannon: ‘I put this in my office — I work in public health and this makes me smile every time I look at it.’ Of course it makes you smile, Kathy Hannon. Virtue is its own reward.
For those still making the tough transition from a traditional Western religion […] to this new religion […] You can pick up this ‘masked nativity scene’ online. It looks conventional, but look closely. It features Mary, Joseph, and the Baby Jesus, all with their faces covered. As they should be, even in a manger! They’re masked. Just like you are.
In this religion of narcissism, the holiest figures look exactly like you do. That’s the point. We’ll reach back two thousand years and change the appearance of historical figures to look exactly like the people in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. That’s what this religion is about.
And speaking of babies, you’ll want to celebrate your children’s baptism-by-Vaxx by purchasing a sacred text to memorialize this moment. […]
Of course there’s always an apostate, the kind of person burning stakes were created for. […]
For the rest of us, though, there are Tony Fauci pins, Tony Fauci mugs, Tony Fauci Christmas ornaments. There’s a cornucopia of ‘Fauciana.’ It’s all part of the practice of this young, but growing, faith.
Soon, the especially devout will set out on pilgrimages to Wuhan, China, where the very first miracle of pangolin-to-human transmission occurred. Some believe a visit to the wet-market will heal them. And who are we to say that it won’t?
You’re not going to hear Joe Biden doubting this new religion. Joe Biden is its chief apostle. He knows that the Kingdom of Corona can exist right here on Earth, and that it will endure forever. But first—everyone must convert. Every last person. This is an evangelical faith. It will be spread by the sword if necessary.
[Video of Biden getting a ‘booster shot’ with a reporters in room; question from off-screen female reporter:]
[Q.] “How many Americans need to get vaccinated for us to get back to normal. What is the percentage total vaccinations that need to happen?”
[Biden:] “Well, I think…Look. [Pause.] I think we get the vast majority […] 97%, 98%. I think we’ll get awful close. But I’m not a scientist. I think…But one thing for sure. A quarter of the country can’t go unvaccinated. We have a problem.”
[Tucker Carlson:] “There he is, getting another shot. Another! Why not? It’s not just once a year. Nooo. Not for the devout. Some people take communion every day.
Joe Biden would like to see everybody on board with this program. Everyone believing wholeheartedly in this new faith. He has called for 98% of the United States of America to convert, to get those shots. One, two, three. Maybe every Sunday? [End quote].
[End of transcript of Tucker Carlson Tonight opening-monologue on “Corona Cult.”]
Comment: The Flu-Virus Religion (or Covid Religion, or Corona Cult) has taken on different imagery in 2021 than it had in 2020. But the core of the thesis remains strong and consistent back to that time. The Pro-Panic side erected a giant, literal religion with many characteristics of the typical apocalypse cult, around a moderate flu virus, and through a combination of factors took over the entire West, and spilled over to much of the upwardly aspirant non-West. Sometimes the
The biggest difference: Back during the weeks-long spring 2020 Flu-Virus New Religion Breakthrough period, there was no vaccine (or no product being called a vaccine), and in 2021 “The Vaxx” (as Tucker puts it) emerged as a key to the whole thing.
I think this position is defensible, then and still now, in the literal and not the metaphorical.
And it does seem that the 21 months since the first sighting of a foretelling of the apocalypse (Dec. 31, 2019), the Corona as Religious Cult theory best fits the facts.