Religion and C-19

So, what does it mean to be religious in the face of COVID 19? Is one likely to ascribe the pandemic to ‘God’s Will’? Surely that concept must make religionists uncomfortable ... is it a case of, those who survive are the 'chosen ones' and those who die deserve it; they were sinners and are destined for hell? OMG!

The Australian PM has given us an idea of what goes on in his mind; he said in a prayer meeting: "Heavenly Father, we just commit our nation to you in this terrible time of great need and suffering of so many people".

What was Prime Minister Scott Morrison thinking, if anything? Presumably, the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good god he was praying to for help is the same all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good god that inflicted the pandemic on us in the first place. (The Canberra Times)

And one of the personalities in the Coalition government, Barnaby Joyce, is on record for saying: 


"I just don't want the government any more in my life, I am sick of the government being in my life. There's a higher authority that's beyond our comprehension - right up there in the sky," he said. "And unless we understand that that's got to be respected, then we're just fools."


Very few people would be holding that view now. People would prefer to rely on help from the governments in Canberra and the state capitals, rather than the "higher authority up there".

That sort of Christianity goes in for faith healing and miracles and putting bad things down to God's will - a view that people get what they deserve and should pray to God for help, rather than seek help from government.

But we need science, not God and religion, particularly the brand of evangelical Protestantism that comes out of the US, with which Morrison's church is affiliated.

Ok, that's what happened here in Australia, and by & large, Morrison has been doing a reasonable job with the pandemic despite his religion, not because of it ... he acknowledged he had to take the best scientific advice.

In the US the situation is much more dire (The Huff). Nine governors - all Republicans - have so far refused to issue statewide stay-at-home orders despite calls from public health experts and medical professionals to do so. Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and Wyoming are not under statewide stay-at-home orders.

The Guardian: When a Florida pastor, who had been arrested for holding a church service despite local coronavirus restrictions, complained he was the victim of “a tyrannical government” ... 

(from The Huffington Post):

PASTOR: 'TRUE CHRISTIANS DON'T MIND DYING' IF INFECTED AT CHURCH Rev. Tony Spell, pastor of Life Tabernacle Church in the Louisiana city of Central, is facing six misdemeanor charges after defying Gov. John Bel Edwards’ orders aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus. Spell shrugged off critics saying he's putting his congregants at risk, saying: “Like any zealot or like any pure religious person, death looks to them like a welcome friend. True Christians do not mind dying.” 

... Ron DeSantis, the state’s Republican governor, was listening.


In executive orders issued in quick succession this week, DeSantis designated religious services as “essential activities”. Then he swept away the right of cities and counties to ban them.


“I don’t think the government has the authority to close a church. I’m certainly not going to do that,” DeSantis said. “In Easter season, people are going to want to have access to religious services.”


A concerted effort to protect religious freedoms is playing out across the country in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, frustrating efforts by public health officials to enforce social distancing per federal guidelines and slow the spread of the deadly virus.


In almost all of the states that lead the nation in numbers of cases, and which have issued blanket stay-at-home orders, there are specific exemptions for religious gatherings or acts of worship, a survey by the Guardian of published regulations and media coverage found.

In others with definitive lists of non-essential businesses or activities ordered to close, churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and other houses of faith are not among them.