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Making COVID-19 an issue of religion is still wrong

Making COVID-19 an issue of religion is still wrong

Making COVID-19 an issue of religion is still wrong
April 29
02:30 2021

The power of religion cannot be denied. For several millennia it has been a way for people to make sense of the ever-changing world around them. It has also guided the moral compasses of billions around the world to this day. However, given the power of belief and the influence of religious leaders, it comes as no surprise that organized religion has muddied the waters of several institutions.

Politics come as an obvious example, where many elected officials make no secret how their campaign and ethics are founded upon the doctrine of a holy book. In the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, a war against science and irrefutable fact is made more contentious with aggressive dogma.

There is a certain beauty found within the church environment. It can be an escape and respite from a gloomy reality as well as provide an enlightening communal experience that brings a congregation together. Practicing faith can be life-affirming and empowering to the individual, but it can lead to them developing a misguided feeling of invulnerability. From the pandemic’s beginning, church services have been host to large “super-spreader” events that resulted in death, according to a report by the CDC.

The closing of churches in the pandemic’s beginning saw an outcry of outrage within the Christian community. Some declared their literal God-given right to worship was wrongfully being infringed. It was and still is startling to see how audacious religious leaders can be in the face of science. The “us against the world” mentality is founded within some level of truth, but playing the religious discrimination card during a global health crisis shows how comfortable organized religion is within society. Some see no need to stop and think about the true implications of their narratives, and it is those narratives that have caused the needless loss of life.

One thinks of Pastor Pete Dunn’s ardent dismissal of mask mandates, shouting “faith over fear” and later dying from COVID-19 complications. Dunn made it no secret how he felt about the government, particularly the Left, was using the pandemic to oppress the Christian faith. It has become more than obvious that COVID-19 does not discriminate from its victims’ beliefs. The pandemic’s horrifically high mortality rate is a testament to its genuine seriousness.

This basic understanding of scientific data makes it all the more frustrating to see the pompous and blind allegiance to dogma in times of a harrowing pandemic. There is a place and even a need for faith in society, but using it as a means to reinforce unjust privilege is the antithesis of what these faiths preach.

It is this hubris that shows how political leaders and those in power use religion as a way to justify their abuses of power. Whether it is the assumption that every elected official needs to be sworn in with a Bible or passing legislation based on religious conviction, the separation of church and state has become increasingly lax. Faith can be a powerful tool in developing empathy and finding one’s place in the world. Once it is used to push an agenda that puts its own supporters at risk, faith ceases to be goodwill.

In the end, the pandemic is yet another example of how organized religion, despite event its best intentions, can turn a fact-based crisis into a matter of emotion. However, it is important to note these examples do not speak for the entire Christian community. In an LA Times profile on Pastor John MacArthur, an unnamed church member for the Grace Community Church said his experience as a healthcare worker directly contradicts MacArthur’s views on the pandemic. Such beliefs include how the virus is not as dangerous as it is made up to be and the myth that COVID-19 is just another name for the flu.

The church member reflects on the grim realities his patients face and the physical and emotional toll his work shifts have taken on him. It is a sobering reminder of COVID-19’s true impact in ways that are both quantified and unseen, just like the relationship between science and faith.

Featured Illustration by J. Robynn Aviles

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Kevin Diaz

Kevin Diaz

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