08 April 2020

The death cults

Recently there have been some hopeful signs that our policies of social distancing and physical isolation, for all their massive economic cost, are beginning to "flatten the curve" and slow the spread of covid-19.  But there's a powerful force working against us, actively facilitating and amplifying the further proliferation of the virus.  That force is religion.

Again and again over the last two weeks, the arrogance, ignorance and stupidity of religious leaders has spread misery and death or the threat thereof.  An Arkansas church held a group event that infected 34 people.  Another in Illinois held a revival meeting which sickened dozens more.  Yet another in Washington (the early epicenter of the pandemic in the US!) went ahead with choir practice, infecting at least three-quarters of the attendees.  Preachers in Louisiana and Florida have been arrested for defying bans on large gatherings (and learned nothing).  Over 70 infections have been linked to a single California church.  This Ohio megachurch looks like another such tragedy waiting to happen.  Liberty University's defiance of the rules has made it a viral hot-spot.  Almost every day, it seems, yet another example surfaces.  And remember, the people who attend these events aren't just putting themselves at risk.  They're endangering anyone else with whom they come in contact later -- you and me, potentially.

In some states where the governors are wingnuts, religionist influence has meant that religious gatherings are exempt from lockdown orders -- a gigantic loophole for the virus.

The pattern is not limited to the US.  In South Korea, much of the propagation of the disease was caused by the secretive Shincheonji Christian sect.  France's worst early infection cluster spread from an Evangelical church in Mulhouse.  In India, a Sikh religious guru returning from coronavirus-wracked Italy immediately went on a preaching tour of over a dozen villages before dying of covid-19, endangering thousands of people.  About one-third of that huge country's total confirmed covid-19 cases trace back to a single mass gathering at the Tablighi Jamaat Islamic missionary center in the Delhi area in mid-March.  In Sub-Saharan Africa, where poverty and limited technology make social distancing and working from home difficult in any case, churches persist in making things even worse by bringing together great numbers of people in dangerous conditions.

Why does this happen?  For one thing, in the US, Evangelicals are less willing to recognize the threat than most other groups are.  One Pennsylvania pastor even denounced those who take precautions as "sissies" and "pansies".  Much of religionist "thinking" about the pandemic is based on medieval drivel about "chastisement" and "a fallen world".  Many seem to believe that their religious devotions confer some kind of immunity, as with this already-notorious Ohio churchgoer who insisted she couldn't get sick because "I'm covered in Jesus's blood" (echoing religious songs about being "washed in the blood of the lamb" -- why do Abrahamic religions love such revolting metaphors?).  It's science-denial and flat-out superstition, something which has long been a hallmark of hard-core Christianity.

To give credit where it's due, the Catholic hierarchy has closed almost all its churches in response to the crisis.  But traditionalist Catholics have been raging against this.

The rejection of science in favor of medieval superstitious belief that magical objects and rituals can protect against disease is not harmless.  The conviction that participation in religious mumbo-jumbo is more important than life itself is not harmless.  The behavior triggered by these delusions now threatens thousands, perhaps millions, with a miserable death -- and all too many of those who die will be innocent victims who don't themselves follow such ludicrous ideas, but are inadvertently infected by the devout.  When this is over and the final body count is under way, never forget who played such an outsize role in making the disaster so much worse than it needed to be.


Blogger Hot guys said...

I know that's not the point of the post but...

I always liked The Grim Reaper. Especially in that TV show Dead Like Me. So good! ^.^

08 April, 2020 03:51  
Blogger Lady M said...

Since the only life they seem to value is the unborn, perhaps they need some stats about pregnant women dying from this disease. But I agree with that Paul Krugman article in your last link up round. It stems from a complete lack of trust in science. When the religions deny evolution, climate change and now disease epidemiology, they understand nothing about Covid 19. They are endangering the rest of us plus contributing to the length of our lock downs and the tanking of the economy. How does one undo years of brainwashing? I mean, if this is not evidence enough, what is?

08 April, 2020 06:09  
Blogger Mary said...

I’m with you 110%.
Religion makes this worse in several ways. This audacious and arrogant refusal to protect the public at large and the continuing of its brainwashing based on fear and guilt and the need to feel chosen or special. It is arrogance in its truest form.

I don’t know if we will ever be free of it, with so many other countries, excluding most of Europe, so infected by it. I know the numbers show a lessening of belief, but it’s not enough and not fast enough to counter this extremism. And not just where this virus is concerned, but climate change and the acceptance that we live in a global world with many different cultures, lifestyle choices and beliefs.

No truer sentence than "religion poisons everything".

08 April, 2020 06:10  
Blogger Debra She Who Seeks said...

Ugh, those ignorant bastards. It's the modern equivalent of snake handling.

08 April, 2020 07:30  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

This is where government needs to do its job in the overall interest of the public safety, etc. Back 2- 3 weeks ago, ALL churches were closed in Dallas County, not by churches volunteering to, but by order of Dallas County (ole Clay Jenkins, he's despised by Gov. Abbott). Since then, we have been also in battle against the state, but not so much about churches, but many businesses are challenging the laws about 6 foot rule, or no more than 10 folks gathering at any place ... it's really a mess, but not as bad as some of the red states, though. Many fundamoralists type christains actually seem to rejoice in death (at least a significant amount), it is ABSOLUTELY CULTISH and very dangerous, well, if you care about having any human life left. Like suicide bombers, they think they are going to get treats when they die. Those folks in these religious cults, that jeopardize the publics safety, based on beliefs as such, should have CRIMINAL CHARGES brought against them.

08 April, 2020 10:55  
Blogger Sixpence Notthewiser said...

It’s incredible. Really.
Perfect example was the woman telling he world that she went to church during sheltering in place (and to the supermarket and to Walmart) because she was protected by the BLOOD OF JESUS. On national television.
I can’t with these idiots. They’ll bring back covid-19 when the rest of the country flattens the curve. Yep.
And this is why the xtianists want Cheeto in power. To get away with murder.


08 April, 2020 13:25  
Blogger Mary said...

This is what’s wrong with America! Religious idiots.mthis man is worth $300 million dollars.


08 April, 2020 17:30  
Blogger Victor said...

Of all inventions by humans, good and bad, religion is by far the most harmful and evil!

08 April, 2020 19:10  
Blogger Mike said...

If the police find people at a large gathering they should lock them all inside for 14 days.

08 April, 2020 22:59  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Hot: Does the Grim Reaper qualify as one of those "hot guys"?:-)

Lady M: I think most of the hard-core ones are lost. Maybe experience will eventually bring them out of their delusions, but arguments rarely will. We just need to do a better job educating future generations.

Mary: The rising numbers of non-believers are the only long-term hope, though. Remember that it's happening even in seemingly unpromising places like the Middle East. Much of the extremism is a reaction to society's evolution away from religion. It's certainly dangerous, but it's the violent thrashing of a dying monster. After covid-19 is subdued, the public will remember that it was religious fanatics who helped make it so much worse.

Debra: I wish they would just handle snakes. At least that way they're the only ones to get bitten.

Ranch: In Italy and Spain the police have actually stopped Catholic masses being held in defiance of social-distancing orders, and at least issued reprimands to participants. I suppose in the US that would still be too controversial.

Sixpence: They probably will help bring it back, as well as ensuring that it hits the South hard. We're not going to be free of this problem until there's a vaccine.

Mary: That video is more than a week old now and the country clearly is not "healed", but his idiot followers will continue to follow. At least when King Canute ordered the tide to go out and it ignored him, the people who were watching got his point -- and that was the Dark Ages.

Victor: No argument from me there.

Mike: I wish they would, to protect the rest of the public.

09 April, 2020 05:59  
Blogger Nan said...

Spot on post, Infidel!

09 April, 2020 17:43  
Blogger Infidel753 said...


11 April, 2020 02:32  

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