Religion and Covid-19

William T. Robinson, Jr.

While Covid-19 has begun a second spike going into the winter season, you find many Americans still reluctant (even defiant) in their position to wear a mask. Often they cite their religion or Constitutional Rights as reasons to support their decision. Believe it or not, you still find those who feel the coronavirus epidemic is non-threatening or over emphasized, even being used to force the American people into submission to mandatory guidelines by the government. Believe what you want, but up until now this virus has taken the lives of 230,000 plus people and counting.

Common sense dictates that if everyone worked together (even those with pessimistic views of being inconvenienced), we could curtail the spread of this pestilence. Use whatever excuse you want, but you find many people who feel the lackadaisical position taken by many non-believers of this horrific virus are doing the overall population a grave disservice. We are specifically referring to those quick to declare that they are personally protected by God and don’t see the coronavirus as a threat. There are self-proclaimed Christians who appear to be insensitive to those who do not share their perspective.

Assume that you are protected by God, but can you guarantee that those you come into contact with are covered? If not, you may be contributing to someone’s untimely, premature death. This sanctimonious attitude and practice of thinking you are exempt from the effects of this virus is detrimental to the many people who are following guidelines such as wearing a mask and social distancing for their own protection and out of respect for the welfare of others. Just ask yourself this. Is it right to expose others to an insidious virus just because you personally feel you are protected or that your religion makes you and others immune to the disease?

If you follow the national news, you see many religious churchgoing individuals not wearing a mask or practicing social distancing. Then they fall victim to this non-discriminating foe, contributing in numerous deaths. I would not doubt that many of these people are devout churchgoers who feel they would be protected in what they perceive as the house of the Lord. In many cases, ministers encourage this belief, and don’t encourage or make it mandatory for their congregates to at least wear a mask or practice social distancing.

I would like to believe that ministers or shepherds in most religious sanctuaries are respectful of their congregations, encouraging them to follow national protocols or guidelines that will help keep them and others safe and alive. Whether you agree or not, many ministers are complicit in the spreading of Covid-19 and even the death of some of their congregates by not adhering to mandatory guidelines in their sanctuaries. While we as Christians are taught that we are covered by the blood of Christ (and therefore protected), that doesn’t mean we are exempt from using basic common sense—especially in dealing with a contagious, pernicious, non-discriminating virus. Surely God wants us to use the intellect he has blessed us with to act accordingly when it comes to things that may cause us harm or death.

Our religious sanctuaries and Bibles won’t save us if we fail to act. We have an obligation and responsibility to adhere to the teachings of the scriptures by our physical actions. There are many examples one can use to get the point across. I will use the following: Those remaining in a burning building are destined to die if they don’t attempt to escape. A weak, unfortified dwelling is likely to be demolished and those inside perish when the inhabitants made no provisions if they are given ample time to avoid upcoming, devastating disasters, e.g., exposure to killer bees without protection sets you up to be stung. In essence, not acting should not be an option in life-threatening conditions or situations.

Ministers have an obligation and responsibility to inform their congregations of the danger of Covid-19 and the use of proper protocol (masks, social distancing, and washing or disinfecting hands frequently) to ensure the safety of their flocks. Anything less would be gross negligence and unacceptable. If the minister falls short in his responsibility to lead the people, the church (being the people) should act accordingly and exercise appropriate action in maintaining their health as well as the heath of others.