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How will coronavirus affect religion? Show more Show less

Lockdown makes no exceptions for belief. In March 2020 the now iconic image of Pope Francis praying to an empty St. Peter's Square hit the headlines. For the religious, it soon became emblematic of solidarity in isolation. Mass gatherings are now out. Places of worship, prayer groups, pilgrimages, weekly rituals and door-to-door evangelism have now been outlawed in many countries. It may be many months before Covid-19 ceases to be a threat. When it does, how will it have impacted religion?

It will weaken religious beliefs Show more Show less

As millions die, so will the belief that there is a higher power looking out for the pious.
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Millions of deaths will destroy faith in God

The impact of the virus will devastate religious belief.
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coronavirus health pandemic politics religion

Context

Much religious belief hinges on the idea that praying will result in protection and salvation. However, with the virus indiscriminately tearing through communities - whatever their spiritual views - this beliefs are being called into question.

The Argument

Spreading patterns show that some of the most affected groups are the orthodox. As David Halbfinger reports in the New York Times, "Ultra-Orthodox Jews failing to comply with government instructions to contain the coronavirus are causing it to spread so quickly that Israeli officials are considering blockading entire communities to protect the wider population."[1] In this case, viral clustering is proving that that religious beliefs have no bearing on whether people contract it or not.

Counter arguments

Most religions believe that life is a test, and that the rewards for pious behaviour on Earth will be made clear in the afterlife. Therefore, the death rates in their communities are irrelevant. As the influential Christian charity the Barnabas Fund writes, "Pastor Tan Songhua, of Wuhan Fangjiaoshi Church, wrote a prayer letter to Chinese Christians, calling the coronavirus outbreak a “test of faith” for the Church in Wuhan. Now, as the pandemic spreads across Europe, Christians here are facing a similar test."[2]

Framing

Premises

[P1] Religions believe in the power of prayer [P2] The religious are praying to be saved from the virus [P3] Religious people are being killed by the virus [P4] Prayer is shown to have no impact

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] Religions believe that life is a test

Proponents

Further Reading

References

  1. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/30/world/middleeast/coronavirus-israel-cases-orthodox.html
  2. https://barnabasfund.org/en/news/churches-face-“test-of-faith”-amid-coronavirus-outbreak-across-europe

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This page was last edited on Tuesday, 31 Mar 2020 at 13:42 UTC