Christianity Has Been Handling Epidemics for 2000 Years

By Lyman Stone

And in the United Kingdom, some conservative Muslim scholars also resisted the closure of mosques. A March 17 fatwa signed by three of them made the case by reminding “the Prophet’s practice of rushing to the Masjid [mosque] during calamities,” with a total disregard for the specific kind of a calamity that coronavirus is. They also made a grim argument: “The protection of faith supersedes the protection of one’s self.” Luckily, other scholars gave counter-fatwas, reminding that Islam never commands that people “place their lives in danger” just for the sake of prayer—but some damage may have already been done.

The religious figures who are failing the coronavirus test come from diverse traditions, but they have something in common: They prioritize their subjective interpretation of faith over the objective requirements of science and reason.

The religious figures who are failing the coronavirus test come from diverse traditions, but they have something in common: They prioritize their subjective interpretation of faith over the objective requirements of science and reason.

They believe that, even if there is really something dangerous happening, God will somehow protect them thanks to their piety. A typical line of thought is that “praying to God is our only way out of this ordeal,” as one Arabic teacher in Egypt said. Or they believe God “is our shield,” as an ultra-Orthodox Jew in Brooklyn asserted. This is akin to jumping from a flying plane, without a parachute, saying, “God is our parachute.” It is the kind of blind faith that prominent atheists such as Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris have long been criticizing.

Blind faith gets even uglier when it begins embracing divine conspiracy theories—the idea that God is using this pandemic to punish a certain group of people, which are typically the people the divine conspiracy theorists don’t like: gay people and environmentalists, according to an American evangelical minister; those who pursue “ adultery and anal sex, “,” according to a Turkish conservative; the Chinese, as some Muslim clerics initially suggested; the Jews, as an anti-Semitic Florida pastor claimed, or Western countries, as an imam in Gaza asserted. The very fact some of these bigoted figures themselves catch the virus hints that there is not a di

https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/04/08/thou-shalt-practice-social-distancing/

 

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