You might not realise it, but you probably follow a Mormon lifestyle blogger on social media. It’s an aesthetic: the specific way knee-length dress is paired with an “effortless” messy braid, a yearly snap of pimply-teenagers in wedding dresses, a subtle nod to their children’s names in their Instagram bio, and absolutely no mention of their faith.
Religion is no "opiate of the masses." Rich and poor, educated and ignorant alike flock to the call of certainty in these uncertain times. Rather than action based on the fear of an angry deity’s surveillance and judgement, this is an escape from the unease within. Certainty is a kind of social power. It indicates authority. Certainty reinforces identity through the use of prescribed language. Certainty is a foundational part of action. Today’s pandemic religion is about something you can be sure of. It’s about a bid for authority seen as stolen by science, by government, by secularism, and by technology. In the same way that 'thoughts and prayers' are more of a dismissive platitude than an actual step towards healing, it’s “Amen” at a distance without much in the way of getting directly in the trenches to rescue the drowning.