What Is The Ethical Response To Marcus Lamb’s Ironic Death?


Marcus Lamb, the evangelical founder of the Texas-based Christian television network Daystar, died on November 30. In an example of extreme cosmic irony/justice/retribution/satire, the cause was a virulent case of infection from the Wuhan virus. The previously healthy (though he had diabetes) 64-year-old was unvaccinated, and indeed was a vocal antivaxxer. Lamb, his wife (they were a Jim and Tammy-style team) and other Daystar broadcasters have been opposing the pandemic vaccines, presumably influencing many of the more than 108 million households the network reaches via cable TV providers to do likelwise On May 10, for example, the Lambs claimed that the vaccines “killed your immune system.”

“We want to warn you, we want to help you, we want to give you an alternative,” Lamb said. The alternatives he recommended were ivermectin, budesonide and hydroxychloroquine, all drugs that have not been proven to be effective or safe in the treatment of the virus, and, naturally, prayer.

Well, as Old Lodgeskins memorably says in “Little Big Man,” “Sometimes the magic works, sometimes it doesn’t.”

What is the ethical reaction to Lamb’s death? One ethical reaction is to report it. Most conservative news sources have not, including popular websites like “Instapundit” and Breitbart. Many of the mainstream media sources, in contrast, as well as social media wags, are doing their best Nelson Muntz impressions…

Here’s the CBS News headline, for example: “Marcus Lamb, head of televangelist network that spreads COVID misinformation, dies of COVID-19.” Publicizing Lamb’s death is now deemed an effective way of rebutting vaccine hesitancy.

Of course, the fact that the religious leader died of the virus rather than being hit by a bus is moral luck and nothing else. His fate doesn’t prove he was wrong, any more than the rare cases of vaccinated individuals becoming ill with the virus proves that the vaccines don’t work. However, it certainly adds to the mountain of evidence that already indicated that Lamb didn’t know what the hell he was talking about.

Lamb was holding himself up as an authority to those who trusted him, and he abused his influence and power. Faith is swell: if an evangelical minister promotes prayer as one way to keep a pandemic at bay, that is his right. Using his video pulpit to persuade people not to get vaccinated in the midsts of a global pandemic is very different, and irresponsible.

Jonathan Lamb, the minister’s son, said last week that his father’s death had resulted from “a spiritual attack from the enemy.”

Or maybe God decided that enough was enough.


31 thoughts on “What Is The Ethical Response To Marcus Lamb’s Ironic Death?

  1. Always difficult to tell what the message is when things like this happen.

    It reminds me of the story sometimes told from the pulpit in which a man is watching the rising floodwaters circle his house, so he goes up to the top floor to wait. A man in a boat comes by and offers him a ride. The homeowner answers, “No thanks, God will provide!”. As the floodwaters go up, the man is forced to take shelter on his roof. Another boat comes by and he is again offered a ride. The homeowner responds, “No thanks, God will provide!”. Finally, the man is clinging to his roof, the water is all around him and a helicopter flies by. He is offered another chance at rescue, but, again, answers, “No thanks, God will provide!”

    The man drowns. In Heaven, he meets God and is very upset. “I trusted you to provide for me and you let me drown!”. God: “What are you talking about? I sent two boats and a helicopter! What else did you want?”

    This shouldn’t be construed as the oft-misattributed “God helps those who help themselves”, however, people need to stop demanding that God handle things the way they want them to be handled instead of how He chooses to handle them. Who’s to say God didn’t give humans the ingenuity to develop the vaccine as quickly as they did? Sure, it would be great if He just supernaturally destroyed the virus and all its variants and put things back the way they were in the Before Times, but He hasn’t and that may not be in our best interests. God sometimes allows us to go through hardships for our own good. Not only does this happen on an individual basis, but also, occasionally, on a national or global scale. Again, I can’t say what the message is, but it’s hard for me, with my worldview, not to believe it’s something like, “Wake up! You’re running out of time”. Your mileage may vary.

    I’ve been vaccinated and got my booster shot this week (which is making my arm really sore right now). I also pray that I won’t get a breakthrough infection like others have. That’s all I can do. If God chooses to let me avoid this thing, I will; if not, I won’t.

    Marcus Lamb made his choice. Maybe his death is a message from God. Maybe it was done in order to reduce his influence on vulnerable people who might now get vaccinated. Maybe it had nothing to do with anything and he died the same way many people of different faiths have died, vaccinated or unvaccinated.

    No doubt, Lamb prayed for healing. God could have healed him. He didn’t.

    Every so often, I kinda wish I were a fly on the wall in Heaven to hear certain conversations, though.

    • This is an excellent post. From my Rush-and-Dr.-Pepper-Deprived mind, the issue is hubris. If he didn’t want to get the vaccine, that was his right and his prerogative. However, encouraging others to follow his example is/was folly, and unethical. I am fully able to decide for myself whether or not to get the vaccine. I rail against government forcing me to do so because I think I am able to make reasonably informed decisions based on what I have read, heard, and advice from my doctors. I don’t tell others what to do, though. Those in a position of influence need to tread lightly, which most of them do not do because of – circling back – hubris.

  2. What is the ethical response when someone who is fully vaccinated dies of the virus? What is the ethical response when someone dies of the vaccine? The response should be the same in all scenarios: compassion and honesty. Narrative driven reporting is untrustworthy and unethical.

  3. Beyond reporting, the ethical response is to offer condolences to his loved ones. They presumably bear no responsibility for his choices and did no wrong that we know of yet they are hurting.

  4. I guess the question is “is it all right to cheer the death of someone you disagree with?” It’s often the first reaction when you hear of the death of someone you didn’t agree with or didn’t like. Hopefully the second though, however, is to stop before you do or say something you really shouldn’t. There are a few exceptions, like the shooting of bin Laden, who the world is better off without, but generally it’s not considered ethical (or polite) to cheer, gloat, or otherwise express joy at someone’s death. I admit, when Ginsburg died I was tempted to put up a link to the song “Ding-Dong the Witch is Dead,” but I held my tongue (and my keystrokes) because I knew it would have said more about me than it would have about her. I didn’t like what she stood for, I didn’t agree with her opinions, I think she should have retired from SCOTUS in 2013, and I think she should have zipped it regarding Trump in 2016 and after. Everyone who knew me knew that. These are all defensible positions.

    However, I’ve lost people to cancer, I’ve seen what it does to people, and I’ve seen what the treatment does to people. I don’t doubt the death that comes at the end of the process is very painful. It’s no joke and nothing to laugh about or poke fun at. I’ve also seen what COVID does to people. It ranges from being not much more than a bad cold to reducing you to a terrified husk having a machine breathe for you and hoping it won’t kill you while you try to gasp in air. It’s no joke either, and neither is the end if it does come.

    Know what else wasn’t funny? Dying of AIDS. I saw what that did too. There’s nothing funny about seeing someone get sicker and sicker until he’s an emaciated ghost lying there with tubes sticking out at every damn angle and unable to get up to relieve himself. Yet, back in the 1980s (as a wise-ass teen), I remember laughing at the blunt, anti-gay lyrics to “A.I.D.S.” by M.O.D. that said “shoulda used a condom” and saying “that’s right.” Nowadays no one thinks that was funny, but back then it was perfectly ok, as it was to say things like “What does AIDS stand for? Adios, Infected Dick Sucker!”

    I think, like my generation in the 1980s, a lot of folks are caught up in the COVID narrative now, and way too eager to point the finger, poke fun, and accuse those who die of having brought it on themselves. It wasn’t right then, and it’s not ok to do it now either.

    • “I guess the question is ‘is it all right to cheer the death of someone you disagree with?’”

      Isn’t the question, “Is it all right to cheer the death of someone who is doing unquestionable harm to others?”?

  5. “What Is The Ethical Response To Marcus Lamb’s Ironic Death?”

    Marcus made his choices in regards to the vaccine and the consequence of that choice is also his. I have no problem with him making the choice he did for whatever reason he saw fit.

    Condolences to the family.

    • But to be fair, it’s a bit more than that, right? If he was just someone who chose to not take the vaccine himself, your comment covers it. But he was influencing others without having a valid basis to do so, and placing those who trusted him in danger. Doesn’t that fact at least open the door to a reasonable response to his death of “Good!”?

      • This is exactly why I provided a link to my comment over on today’s Open Form above because I think it’s related to the points you raise. As can be easily understood from my Open Forum comment, I have a real problem with what’s being presented to the public whether it’s scientist, medical doctors, or just people on their soap boxes.

        Marcus Lamb had a large soap box and he used it unethically.

        Marcus Lamb made a medical choices and suffered the consequences of that choice.

        Marcus Lamb’s family deserves condolences just like anyone that has lost a family member for any reason.

      • I don’t know. Justice Ginsberg had a great deal of influence, as well. She made many announcements and decisions which I feel were harmful to the nation. More than once her name and her words were held up as the final nail in an argument. It was still wrong to celebrate her demise. The destructive use of someone’s authority does not make it acceptable to savor their death sweetly. Maybe, at most, a bit of gratitude that a misuse of power will no longer continue, and that damages might be repaired moving forward.

        We’re also assuming harm done, as well as intentionality. If he truly believed that the vaccines were a risk, or that the risks outweighed the benefits, or that the cost of capitulating to an unjust edit outweighed any benefits, those are arguable positions. We assume that his parish listened to him. We assume that he was incorrect; the fact that he was lain low by COVID may be ironic, but it should not have any standing on whether his arguments were themselves correct or incorrect. It may also well be that the irony of his death hammers home the message of the importance of vaccination far better than any number of other exhortations. A man may be a fool, or mistaken, or misguided; his death should be mourned.

        If absolutely nothing else, I’d rather stand with the crowd respectful of another human life than the crowd mocking a death. A man may be known by the company he keeps, as well.

        • If he truly believed that the vaccines were a risk, or that the risks outweighed the benefits, or that the cost of capitulating to an unjust edit outweighed any benefits, those are arguable position

          Indeed, there are unjust edicts with this vaccine.

          Never before has any other vaccine been required to visit public accommodations, or to work anywhere at all.

          The whole thing has been about control. Getting vaccinated seems to be formal cooperation with evil.

          How is it ethical to formally cooperate with evil?

          • “How is it ethical to formally cooperate with evil?”

            Corrie Ten Boom asked a similar question when she and her family decided to hide Jews in their house in Nazi-occupied Holland, “What is the response of a Christian when evil is in power?” When the family was arrested, an irritated bureaucrat – upset because the elderly father of the clan was among them and whose care was likely to be a nuisance – offered, “I’d like to send you home, old man, if you promise you won’t cause any more trouble”. The father answered, “If I go home today, tomorrow I will open my door to anyone who asks for help”. The old man died in prison after ten days. His two middle-aged spinster daughters were sent to concentrations camps where Corrie’s sister died under horrific conditions. Nevertheless, all but one of the Jews hidden in the house were saved (one inexplicably left the shelter and was picked up). I recommend her book, “The Hiding Place”.

            They disobeyed the law (yes, there were laws in place forbidding any assistance to Jews) .They were guided by a higher moral law based on their religious beliefs. Yet Is there anyone who does not applaud this family’s sacrifice? If so, is it just because of the cognitive dissonance of the Nazis being so far down on the scale?

            Indeed, what should our response be, if a precedent is set that the government has the right to require that you have something done to your body in order to be permitted to participate in the national economy, should, further down the road, the government requires additional bodily modifications.

            In the past, the government has never had the means to completely hinder the economic participation of every citizen. In a world which is becoming increasingly cashless and in which your assets can be frozen or seized at the whim of a bureaucrat, that’s a real possibility.

            I took the vaccine and the booster because I felt it was in my best interests. Everyone has the right to decide what is in his or her own best interests. But elements in our government, in the news media and the entertainment industry and in academia don’t feel that we have that right anymore.

            Like the abusive boyfriend, they want to control what we do “for our own good”, punish us when we fail to follow any one of several constantly changing rules about what we can say or do, tell us it is our fault for provoking the punishment since it wouldn’t have happened if we’d just done what we were told, deny saying or doing these things when we complain about the treatment, woo us back with flattery, sweet talk and promises of free stuff (and even throw a few tokens our way) only to go right back to the same behavior once we’re in their grip again and, finally, project their increasingly-totalitarian views and actions on anyone who tries to warn us about the danger we’re in.

            They have destroyed our economy and encouraged violence in our streets in order to remake our country in their image. These are not people I trust to decide what is in my best interests

  6. Marcus Lamb had every right to reject the vaccine. What he did not — did not — have the right to do was exhort his millions of followers to follow suit. This is misuse of power. And whenever someone brings God into it the real message gets lost, most often purposefully. If more of his churchmembers die of the virus because of Lamb’s choice, it will be close to negligent homicide.

    And just for the sake of forthrightness, I do have a total lack of respect for evangelicals — laughter was my first and very brief response. I was not amused that he managed to contract the virus and feel sorry for his family, but was amused that his particular deity chose not to protect him as promised. I gave up on all evangelicals right out of college, when one told me he was praying — hard — for a new refrigerator.

    Concepts of God or a higher power vary so widely it is difficult to discuss. If God allows disease, wars, accidents, natural disasters, etc., when presumably He is omnipotent and can provide individual health, safety, wealth and a lot of other great things for a particular group of his followers, that God is either a sadist or a comedian. I don’t think it’s either.

    • Isn’t this really just another version of Exodus 17:7,

      “Behold, I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. And when you strike the rock, water will come out of it for the people to drink.” So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel. He named the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled, and because they tested the LORD, saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?”


  7. I am a new commentator here thank you for welcoming me.

    Pertaining to the leader dying from covid, doesn’t his death add to the undeniable statistical evidence that you are less likely to die from covid if you are vaccinated versus not? Especially for his age bracket which I am getting close to.

  8. A major point in my mind:

    “The previously healthy (though he had diabetes) 64-year-old”

    He was NOT previously healthy. He had DIABETES! Diabetes is a well-known pre-existing condition which increases the lethality of the virus. If you have diabetes, get vaccinated and hope for the best. Mrs. OB’s brother-in-law died of the virus. He was diabetic, seventy-eight years old and arguably clinically obese if you go by the charts in doctors’ offices. Not morbidly obese, but obese by health expert standards. He was also extremely sedentary and was likely suffering from the beginning of Alzheimer’s disease or some other dementia. He died before the vaccines were available, but he was a sitting duck to have a bad reaction if he contracted the virus.

    My point is modern medicine has so extended our life expectancy that we no longer have viable concepts of what healthy and unhealthy are. People in their late seventies are per se NOT healthy. They are OLD. People with diabetes are ill. They’re only being kept alive by modern science. Why are we vaccinating five year-olds instead of getting people who are old and ill to be more proactive in protecting themselves?

    We can’t live forever, and modern medicine has not yet found a cure for every fatal disease and condition. Life is dangerous and ultimately and inevitably fatal. Can we all go about our lives accordingly now? The United States has to be the most populous and most medically advanced nation in the world. As a result, we have a large population who, but for modern medicine, would have been dead years or decades ago. Poor countries are likely suffering fewer virus deaths because their populations don’t live as long because they don’t have particularly robust medical establishments. We also have a massive statistics establishment that’s using a very goofy definition of “Covid deaths.”

    In the long run, we’re all dead.

  9. The ethical response to his death is the same as the ethical response to anyone’s death. We mourn, feel regret, and move on, since death is a part of life.

    We can certainly say that not being vaccinated may have contributed to his death, but would it also not be fair to say that his death has robbed him of any chance to change his own mind?

    Most religious and moral beliefs hold that as long as someone lives, there is always the chance of redemption, the chance of doing good instead of evil or trying to make amends for what we’ve done in our lives. Once someone has died, that chance is gone. Rather than gloat, I feel sadness that someone can no longer try to redeem their actions.

  10. Fact is people die all the time because they made poor choices. I had a good friend who died from head injuries in a motorcycle accident because he didn’t wear a helmet, although I am actually not sure he would have survived anyways. I know people who die of heart attacks because they didn’t see a doctor. In the news, all the time, there’s people who die hitting trees skiing and falling off cliffs. Some have passionate followers in their sport and yet… we don’t mock them. Enough. People do dumb things. Most of the ER visits are due to poor preventable choices. But for… I think the hubris is on both sides. The ones who think they’re a better person somehow because they are vaccinated and the ones who are certain no virus can overcome them. Both are fools IMO.

  11. See https://www.sorryantivaxxer.com

    Not the only antivax televangelist to shuffle off this mortal coil. Not the dozenth either.

    At least they had the courage of their convictions, it’s the ones who get themselves secretly vaccinated, while urging against it in public who I feel are in a class of their own.

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