The Black Death cost 75 to 200 million lives because it’s treatment and cure was in the hands of 14th-century spiritual healers.
In the 21st century, epidemics and pandemics like the SARS and the ongoing COVID-19 are being curbed with the help of bioscience and medicine. However, with their claim as saviors lost, religious groups around the world have been feeding their insecurities. Inadvertently many religious groups have also become the primary disruptors and super-spreaders as the globe tries to curb the coronavirus pandemic outbreaks.
Highlights! Religious groups become coronavirus super spreaders around the globe
- Religious gatherings becoming outbreak hot spots globally
- Churches in the US, France, Brazil, Nigeria, and South Korea
- Religious group congregations becomes coronavirus super-spreaders in Pakistan, India, Malaysia and also among other countries
- Festive lockdown defiance in front of temples in India and shrines in Iran
- What the faithful say about defying lockdowns?
Governments around the world are trying to curb community spread of the dreaded 2019 novel coronavirus, locking down billions. But religious groups around the world are defying law and science. So, many continue to hold mass gatherings, inadvertently becoming hotspots for infection outbreaks in major cities around the world.
Religious gatherings becoming Outbreak Hot Spots
Faith knows no boundaries. Hence, religious sects across continents are defying government orders of social distancing and ban on mass-gatherings. From churches to mosques, temples, and also shrines, worshippers and religious leaders continue to defy social distancing norms and government lockdown orders.
In the US, a Sacramento, California evangelical church has become a hotspot with 71 COVID-19 positive cases. However, an Ohio megachurch is defying official warnings as it continues to hold 1,000-strong gatherings. Similarly, pockets of churches from Florida to Texas and California are planning services as the Palm Sunday approaches.
Similarly, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God with a capacity of 10,000 is still welcoming worshippers. Tanzania has also chosen to let their Churches remain open. In South Africa, authorities are struggling to track hundreds who attended the evangelical service Jerusalem Prayer Breakfast in Bloemfontein where 67 have tested COVID-19 positive. Likewise, Nigerian church Winners Chapel with a capacity of 250,000 defied government advice and ran services.
From Churches to Mosques, Temples and Festivals
One of France’s biggest clusters of COVID-19 patients at around 2,500 is the result of a prayer meeting in Mulhouse. Furthermore, infection from the cluster spread as far as Burkina Faso in West Africa, Mediterranean Corsica, Guyana, and Switzerland. Also, outbreak from a single patient at a Christian Open-Door congregation in South Korea led to over 5,000 cases.
Likewise, gatherings of Islamic sect Tablighi Jamaat in India and Pakistan has authorities facing potentially hundreds of cases. Reports say they are trying to trace around 130,000. Iranians continued defying government orders as crowds thronged shrines Imam Reza in Mashhad and the Fatima Masumeh in Qom in Iran. Two-thirds of Malaysia’s positive cases are linked to a mosque conference in Kuala Lumpur that was attended by 16,000 people.
Similarly, India saw hundreds of devotees gather in front of temples defying a nation-wide lockdown on the festival of Ram Navami. Earlier in the month, a religious group in India Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha held a cow urine drinking party in capital New Delhi. Some 200 people attended it. The Chief Minister of India’s most populous state Uttar Pradesh was also witnessed attending a religious gathering at the onset of the 21-day lockdown in the country.
What the faithful say about defying lockdowns?
It is important to understand the point of view of religious leaders at the helm of this defiance during a dire time for humanity. One Louisiana pastor Tony Spell, already charged with six misdemeanors but continuing to defy lockdown rules told Reuters, “We’re defying the rules because the commandment of God is to spread the Gospel.”
Pastor Karambiri from France tested positive along with his wife. Afterward, he broadcast a video calling coronavirus “a satanic plan conceived a long time ago to destroy the world.” The Pastor followed up by also saying that “God will lead the people out.” Shincheonji Church of Jesus leader Lee Man-hee kneeled and begged for forgiveness promising to usher 144,000 people within his lifetime and take them with him to heaven on the Day of Judgement.
“A satanic plan conceived a long time ago to destroy the world.”
Pastor Karambiri from Mulhouse, France’s biggest clusters of COVID-19 patients describes Coronavirus pandemic
Tanzania’s President John Magufuli, a devout catholic, explained that the churches and mosques remain open. He said it was “for the sake of our faith and for us as a government”. Magufuli also compared coronavirus to a devil that can’t survive in the “body of Jesus”. Likewise, defying science behind medicine was Nigerian pastor David Oyedepo. In one of his sermons, the Pastor said that “shutting down churches would be like shutting down hospitals”.
“(Coronavirus) a devil that can’t survive in the “body of Jesus”.
Tanzania’s President John Magufuli on why churches and mosques remain open
Founder of Brazil’s Church of the Kingdom of God, Edir Macedo calls coronavirus a “tactic of Satan”. Macedo is a staunch supporter of President Bolsonaro who is hellbent on making the outbreak worse. A Brazilian neo-Pentecostal pastor Marco Feliciano said “churches should be open” as they were during “the worst wars and plagues”.
“Shutting down churches would be like shutting down hospitals”.
Nigerian pastor David Oyedepo
However, historians will beg to contradict. Furthermore, they’ll explain how religious groups and gatherings acted as super-spreaders and took the community transmission of diseases like coronavirus or COVID-19 to millions of deaths.