01 April 2021

Diseases of the body, diseases of the mind

As the global deployment of vaccines brings the end of the covid-19 pandemic into view, the coronavirus is enjoying a final surge with the help of its strongest ally -- religion.  The most dangerous situation is emerging in the world's largest democracy, where the world's largest religious pilgrimage is under way.

India's Kumbh Mela festival typically draws tens of millions of Hindu pilgrims to various sacred sites near the Ganges river.  People are now starting to arrive for this year's festival -- though the government has decreed some restrictions on access in an effort to reduce the obvious danger, they sound far from adequate, and many pilgrims are ignoring them out of a belief that participation in the religious rituals of the event confers some kind of protective immunity.  Given the numbers involved, the potential for a super-spreader disaster is clear.

There is a considerable history of religion spreading disease and death in India.  The Ganges plain is one of the most densely populated areas on Earth, and with sewage-treatment technology widely inadequate, the huge river is horribly polluted.  But it is also considered "sacred", and some Hindu religious rituals involve bathing in its waters because they are considered "pure" spiritually, even though biologically they are anything but.  Since the early nineteenth century, this behavior has generated seven cholera epidemics so massive that they spread beyond India's borders, making the disease (which originated at the Ganges) endemic in many areas around the world.

Defecation in the open is a huge public-health problem, and persists mainly due to a religious taboo on the presence of excrement within enclosed spaces, which many people interpret as forbidding the use of indoor toilets.  The Indian government has been campaigning for years to change this behavior, with mixed success.

In the West, too, throughout the covid-19 pandemic, churches have fought hard to help spread the virus, endlessly suing to overturn restrictions on their group rituals, or simply disregarding them.  For centuries, Christian clerics have fought tooth and nail against modern contraception, stem-cell research, and other medical advances.  Diseases of the body spread and sicken and kill far more effectively when they have diseases of the mind to assist them.


Blogger Sixpence Notthewiser said...

"and many pilgrims are ignoring them out of a belief that participation in the religious rituals of the event confers some kind of protective immunity." I am rolling my eyes so hard at this...
But it's totally believable. Didn't we have a woman on TV proclaiming that the blood of Jeebus protected her and therefore she could go to church and be immune? Darwinism at its best.
I also had no idea about not defecating indoors being some kind of religious taboo. The more you live...


01 April, 2021 06:58  
Blogger Mike said...

"Defecation in the open" I didn't realize this was as big a problem as it is. I knew about the Ganges being polluted and think about it every time I see on TV people dipping themselves in it.

I think a solution would be toilets on pads out in the open. Or even the Asian squat holes as long as they were all connected to sewers.

How do Indians handle going to other countries? They would all wind up on the sex offender lists in the US for exposing themselves.

01 April, 2021 10:44  
Blogger Tundra Bunny said...

In a well-meaning attempt to counter disinformation, the Pope recently told Catholics that getting the Covid-19 vaccine is "morally acceptable". Ironic, considering the Catholic Church's moral high ground is now smaller than the head of a pin! Organized religion has done far more harm than good in human history, IMHO, and the Covid-19 pandemic has just demonstrated this yet again....especially by the Evangelical Christian crowd.

01 April, 2021 11:07  
Blogger Mary Kirkland said...

Dang, talk about different cultures. I can't even imagine what people in places like India have to endure.

02 April, 2021 16:47  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Sixpence: It seems to be a universal delusion of religionists. Dangerous or unsanitary behavior magically becomes safe when done as part of a religious ritual.

Mike: It's part of what's called the "Laws of Manu" (Laws of Manure?) in Hinduism. The people who really believe and follow that stuff are usually the least educated and poorest, who aren't likely to travel to other countries. The more educated and middle-class people tend to disregard the more bizarre features of their own religion, like in the West.

Bunny: I'm impressed that the Catholic hierarchy managed to get their dicks out of their altar boys long enough to even issue a statement. It's wasted on the real hard-core Catholics, though, who are still ranting about "abortion-tainted" vaccines, no matter what the pope says.

Mary: Yes, they have different taboos than Western religions, though not necessarily any sillier, just less familiar to us. But yeah, it's tough enough being poor without all this extra nonsense to make life even harder.

03 April, 2021 02:31  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

Weird read, but I already knew about some of this, and India is "scat country", if you gotz a scat fetish, that's the place to visit! {:-) ... like a fucken buffet, all you can eat ... yum, yum. I was out in Mesquite earlier today (a Dallas suburb) ... weather is nice, cool, cloudy, it's Easter. A church there had their service outside, pulpit and the works, but I noticed they had all the outdoor seats distanced at roughly what looked like 6' to 8'ft, and they were all also wearing masks, except the preacher. It was one of those Church of Christ joints, so not sure the denomination ....

But yeah, all this wave after wave shit is bad news, and even in America, a small percentage refuse vaccines, masks, etc ... so my guess is were going to have to battle this throughout the year, hope I'm wrong ....

04 April, 2021 16:41  
Blogger Mary said...

For some reason I have not been getting your blogs in email, but found this one, which is unbelievable. It’s hard to imagine the depth of damage, cruelty and absurdity that religion foments. But then....people follow it and believe it no matter the most ridiculous claims.

27 April, 2021 09:04  
Blogger Mary said...

Whoops...I was wrong. I have seen them all but the very latest. Some were in my junk mail and I’ve fixed that now.😊

27 April, 2021 09:17  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Ranch: And now, about four weeks later, India is seeing a catastrophic covid-19 explosion. It was easily predictable from the pilgrimages, and now it's happening.

Mary: The health problems produced by these taboos are terrible. If anything, medieval Europe (even more religion-dominated) was probably even worse.

I'm glad those e-mail notifications are working for somebody. Blogger's system seems to be very erratic. I don't generally encourage people to rely on it.

27 April, 2021 11:20  

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