Why Are Religious Zealots So Willing to Spread COVID?
I was informed late last night that a direct contact of someone in my household was exposed to COVID-19. Each of my teens has been allowed to see one friend as part of a social bubble, but that one friend apparently has extremely religious parents who have been shirking health orders to attend church sans masks, because they don’t “believe in” them.
I understand that’s a risk some are willing to take, but what they didn’t seem to, or care to, take into account is that in doing so, they’re making a decision for everyone else they come into contact with.
So, here we are, two days before Thanksgiving and my entire household is on a 14-day quarantine. This should make shopping for our dinner an interesting experience.
The ordeal got me thinking about the impact religion is having on this pandemic and why some of the “faithful” believe God will somehow protect them from a highly contagious virus, despite the fact that there’s plenty of evidence to prove otherwise. Clusters and full blown outbreaks of COVID-19 cases have been traced to places of worship around the country.
WRAL in North Carolina reported in October that 40 cases were linked to East Lumberton Baptist Church, resulting in the death of four congregants before they moved to outdoor services. Another North Carolina church is connected to an alarming 213 cases and 12 deaths. The CDC reported in May that 38 percent of 92 attendees at a rural church in Arkansas contracted the virus and three people died. A June outbreak at Lighthouse United Pentecostal Church in Eastern Oregon caused 232 cases, which at the time accounted for nearly half of the entire state’s case total.
The virus does discriminate based on religious choice.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been battling with the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, New York, where they’ve ignored health guidelines and just held an unmasked wedding celebration with thousands of people indoors. A spike in the community prompted the city’s mayor to re-impose a temporary lockdown, which was met with street protests and an incident where a reporter was pinned against a wall and threatened as a “snitch.”
At Heschy’s urging, the crowd just surrounded and attacked journalist @jacobkornbluh. They pinned him against a wall and shouted “moyser” (“snitch”) as NYPD lost control of the situation. Really scary scene. Jacob is a pro pic.twitter.com/783MqbzTBe
— Jake Offenhartz (@jangelooff) October 8, 2020
While some congregations have handled the challenging restrictions responsibly, opting for online services, many continue to operate like it’s pew business as usual. The pandemic ordeal has actually made some faith leaders and followers rather aggressive in their anti-science rhetoric, claiming the virus is a hoax and that masks and distancing are somehow an affront to their religious freedom.
It’s hard to wrap my mind around any God being cool with willfully killing followers and others they come in contact with. Still, churches and other houses of worship around the country and here in California — including the one that just pushed my family into a lockdown — act in defiance of protecting their fellow faithful, families and neighbors.
I’m no religious expert, but I’m pretty sure the “thou shalt not kill” thing is kind of a big deal in that crowd. The pandemic is shining a harsh light on how the beliefs of a few can endanger the many.
I’ll inevitably be pondering that issue over the next 14 days, as we responsibly stay inside our house and hope we don’t get sick. So, to the couple that prioritized their prayer over the health of my family, let’s just say:
“Thanks for giving, jerks!”