The SARS-CoV-2 outbreak and resulting COVID-19 disease are wreaking havoc upon the world as I write this, and are obviously extensively covered on a continual basis. I’m not an expert and have nothing of value I can add to the advice and cautions of the actual experts, although on a personal note, I will share that I have become fascinated by the power of soap. I have neglected proper hand-washing all my life and have now become an ardent supporter of a good scrubbing.
A most disturbing trend among religious leaders is their unwillingness to abide by common sense and the recommendations of health experts to avoid large gatherings of people. A Tampa church this past weekend was jammed full of the faithful breathing and coughing all over each other, in spite of the direct order from county officials. The church put themselves in the same category as hospitals, police and firefighters in their insistence to stay open, and call upon the flock to congregate. There are stories like this everywhere, including in Illinois where at least 10 people who attended service have already tested positive for COVID-19 among the 43 parishioners who got sick from attending service. More are sure to follow.
A Catholic Cardinal, after detailing lots of relevant information we’ve received from health officials, couldn’t help succumbing to his brain virus and added, “In combating the evil of the coronavirus, our most effective weapon is, therefore, our relationship with Christ through prayer and penance, and devotions and sacred worship. We turn to Christ to deliver us from pestilence and from all harm, and He never fails to respond with pure and selfless love. That is why it is essential for us, at all times and above all in times of crisis, to have access to our churches and chapels, to the Sacraments, and to public devotions and prayers.” ¹
This kind of behaviour is not only absurd, it is reckless. It is endangering the lives of not only the faithful followers, but of everyone else, as the churches and chapels become petri dishes of viral infection that are then sent out into the community to infect the rest of the populace that are trying to do the right thing and be part of the solution. At what point does this become criminal behavior? Creating a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another person, even without intent to do so, but by behaving in such a manner that shows a disregard for the foreseeable consequences of the actions is called reckless endangerment, and I can think of no clearer case in the present moment than the continued actions of the parties of God.
To make matters even worse is the relentless pandering of our political leaders to religious leaders, who don’t contribute to the tax base since they get lots of exemptions, but sure know how to drive out the vote. Michigan’s Governor, who finds herself dealing with an ever increasing outbreak of COVID-19 cases, has exempted “places of worship” from the Executive Order banning large gatherings and events.
People’s belief in the supernatural cannot put the rest of the world at risk of disease and death. Thomas Jefferson famously said that he didn’t care if his neighbor worshipped one god or a thousand, as it neither picked his pocket nor broke his leg. I agree wholeheartedly with this sentiment from the architect of the United States, but what should we say when their worship in fact does both of those things? If one of the sheep leave the flock Sunday morning infected with the coronavirus and then passes it on to his neighbor, who then gets sick and incurs weeks of painful illness with the fear of, and all too real possibility of death, thousands of dollars in medical expenses and the terror and pain inflicted upon their loved ones, you’re damned right we should care.
I call upon all of my Faithful Readers to speak out against this madness. Our leaders must hear from us as we cannot count on them to act in the best interests of the populace when they are faced with potential adverse risks to their own personal best interests. Slowing the spread of this pandemic is literally up to us as individuals to avoid being part of the problem. Listen to the medical experts, speak out against the outrages and affronts to our personal well being when you see them, and be patient. After all, Pope Francis has finally decided to ask God to end the outbreak of the coronavirus, so it shouldn’t be long now. As we wait, if you are unfortunate enough to fall ill, remember that “Asa, in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the LORD, but to the physicians.” 2 Chronicles 16:12
Be like Asa.