Religion: A virus far deadlier than Corona.

During the apocalyptic days of the bubonic plague, the desperate masses flocked in droves – not to hospitals and medical experts, but to churches and religious leaders. Each chose superstition over science in a futile belief that ‘God’ was the ultimate vaccine.

They wailed like banshees – their hands reaching out to the heavens behind clerical fossils donned in white robes. Chanting rose up daily from the infected towns and cities of Europe. The pestilence-riddled penitent whipped themselves to the bone. And priests strolled solemnly through the streets; their thuribles swinging two and thro on bronze chains like burning pendulums. The end result was the mass culling of the flock – almost a third of the world’s population snuffed out. The same bodies that once piled hysterically into sermons now lie in hapless piles in plague pits across the planet. Infant bones sit scattered in unmarked graves on church-owned lands, dug deep below the sacred grounds they’d wrongly been told would protect them – many of them unwitting victims of the vicar’s Kool-Aid.

You’d have thought that humanity would have learned its lesson. It hasn’t. Today – through blind belief and medievalist arrogance – many thousands of people across the world continue to put the wider community at risk in their weak pursuit of finding anything and anyone to take responsibility over their lives and actions than themselves.

Despite the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, Sunday services continue to be held in religious sites in countries such as America, Pakistan, and Russia. In defiance of science, religious leaders are still opening their doors; passing around shared spoons and cups of wine from one set of lips to another. Evangelical universities in parts of the US have recalled their students. The holy call to prayer can still be heard echoing from within packed-out Mosques, including London’s largest. Others have taken to meeting up in groups to pray in parks.

An estimated 500 people crammed inside the Life Tabernacle Church in virus-hit Louisiana this past Sunday alone.

In St. Petersburg and Moscow, Catholics swarm into cathedrals; with one member of the congregation of a recent gathering, Irina (a Doctor) even telling a BBC correspondent that it is “impossible to get infected in a church because it’s a holy place”.

Irina, of course – as with her many religious counterparts throughout history – was wrong. While positive thinking should often be praised, when it has negative affects, it should be condemned. 

Already, selfish acts are showing dire consequences.

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40 Comments on Religion: A virus far deadlier than Corona.

  1. Quite a regrettable post. Obviously, those Christians (those who died from The Plague) wouldn’t be doing that today, after Christians have invented science as we know it. The Scientific Revolution having been totally a function of Classical Judeo-Christian thinking. Also, don’t think anyone going to church today isn’t doing mostly sound medical practice of washed hands, masks, if necessary, and social distancing. Really a demeaning and offensive post, in fact. Mocking the ignorant in hindsight who are now dead. Who’s the flat-earther? No wonder Europe is quite a godless place. At least those going to church have an ounce of bravery. That was what was needed: smarts, bravery – to win WW I and II. Britain used to have it in spades in Christian form. The problem with Europe today is that it has blamed God for 1917 to 1945 when Europeans were completely themselves to blame. See Genesis. Signed, Dedicated American

    • No one blamed God for the World Wars though I’m delighted to read your last paragraph as it almost exactly reproduces one at the start of that great pagan work, Odyssey. Zeus, like you, complains that mortals blame the gods for their misfortunes when it’s all their own fault. Kierkegaard and Sartre and existentialism anticipated wouldn’t you say?

      The discussion about the fatuous idea that Christians invented modern science is worked out in the other comments on here. You’ll be telling us next that American Christians abolished slavery, and Mormonism was established by gentlemen of upright character who didn’t murder anybody. If I believed in transmigration of souls I’d swear the blasphemous heretic Joseph Smith was a C7th back for another shot.

  2. Catholics in St.Petersburg and Moscow,hey? And there i was all this time thinking that we had Red China to blame.
    The author must be another metropolitan oaf with delusions of erudition.That type so common in the Pages of the Grauniad and the NYT.

    • This Jay Beecher bloke – or blokess – speaks of mediaeval Christians thusly:
      “They wailed like banshees – clerical fossils donned in white robes. Chanting… The pestilence-riddled penitent whipped themselves [sic] to the bone. And priests strolled solemnly through the streets; their thuribles swinging two and thro [sic] on bronze chains like burning pendulums.

      Harriet Beecher Stowe is weeping at this idjit stealing her good name.

  3. It was very well written and Jay makes an important point about crowds. (Assuming that the scientists know how the viral transmission occurs ).
    If it were football crowds rather than religious meetings, would it have inflamed passions as much?

    • No, Catherine Blaiklock, this was a very badly written, ill-informed and prejudiced piece. The only good thing about it is that the “author” ran out of steam before reaching 1000 words. All I have to say, otherwise, is that the vast majority of Christian churches are assiduous in obeying the prescribed prophylactic protocols.

      To think that I just renewed my SR subscription. Who is this Jay Beecher?

  4. What a silly, ignorant, bigoted article.

    The origins of the plagues which swept the world in past centuries were as unknown to the ‘‘medical experts’ as they were to the Church, as was any kind of a cure. The best that could be done was the dangerous mission to try to relieve the suffering of the sick.

    In that connection, the early Church writer Eusebius noted that in a plague in his times, ‘The deeds of the Christians were on everyone’s lips’.

    Care for the sick continued in the Middle Ages with the Monasteries and other Church institutions..These were the hospitals of the era,

    The development of Medicine into science was a function of Christianity. Modern Empirical Science developed in the West – and nowhere else -thanks to Christian doctrines,

    • Your last point is not completely true. The Greeks began the development of empirical science and medicine. Anaximander suggested an evolutionary theory in which the sun warming the sea caused first fish, then animals, and finally humans to evolve. Democritus and others proposed that all matter was composed of minute particles that could not be divided further.

      Doctors in many countries still take a version of Hippocratic oath to do one’s best for ‘man and woman, bond and free’. We still have Asclepius’ snake and rod medical symbol. Hippocrates discovered the properties of aspirin: chewed or infused in water it helped with fevers and the pain of childbirth. He and Pythagoras were the first to suggest that illnesses were caused by bodily imbalances rather than mean-spirited gods. Even epilepsy was a disease according to Hippocrates not the work of a malicious immortal. I’m not sure the Church took that view. He stressed that doctors should not make diagnoses only according to theories about moisture and heat in the body but should examine the actual patient.
      Much of what could be attributed to Christianity was actually down to Aquinas bolstering it with Aristotle. Some parts of the online RC catechism still read like Aristotle – himself a master of empirical science. Even his Politics was based on evidence from 1000 city states.

      • It is quite true that the Greeks made impressive strides in the application of human reason, yet they never developed formal and sustained scientific inquiry from them. The technical innovations of Greco-Roman times, Islam, China etc do not constitute science and are better described as lore, skills, wisdom or just learning.

        Aristotle may have dismissed the gods and gathered a lot of empirical evidence, but assigned conscious purpose to the material actors in the cosmos. The Muslims whose best thinkers were pantheists ruled by Aristotle and who also ventured into empiricism particularly in optics, were limited for this reason as well.

        Modern empirical science developed in the Christian West because of the unique Christian conception of God which allowed the depersonalisation of nature by the scholastics, This depersonalised nature is fundamentally different from nature as conceived by Aristotle,

        Aquinas struck a balance between God’s freedom to create any kind of universe and his consistency in governing it. It was important to discover what kind of universe God had indeed created rather than how the universe must be arrived at by abstract thinking,

        The universe that God had created could be understood, because, since he is rational, predictable and intelligible, so too is his creation. It was the duty of Christians to understand God more fully by understanding his creation in a rational way through experience of it. This was on the understanding that it was predictable. These are the foundations of modern empirical science.

        • I don’t disagree entirely, but Christianity has form in resisting scientific enquiry – the fate of ‘witches’ and treatment of Galileo being among many examples.
          There were some Greeks who did see assume a rational universe and whose questions about it remain unanswered to this day – when physics seems to have taken leave of reality. The Big Bang (first mentioned in Genesis: Let there be light) is one theory that Melissus of Samos would attack. What was there before and what extra event or substance caused the bang? Was anything preceding the bang eternal? If not, how did anything come into being from nothing? What is the universe expanding into? Nothing? Where has that come from and does it have a boundary? His conclusion was that what exists has always existed and always will and that it is ubiquitous and unchanging. This would pose the question for theology – how could ubiquitous infinite eternal God add something to himself in the creation. Melissus was not the only obscure thinker who thought as profoundly as this. So. I’m sticking up for my Greeks while not disrespecting you Christians!

          • CS Lewis pointed out that to link witch burning with Christianity is a category error. There is Christianity and there are witches. Witches have been around for millennia and are still around today in some parts of the world. In any case, witchcraft is hardly science.

            Galileo, Copernicus and others were pious Roman Catholics, Passages in the Bible which caused the friction resulted from their being seen through Aristotelian spectacles. Galileo made mistake of rubbing up this Pope the wrong way,

            The views of this Pope should not be taken as the views of Christianity, which were behind the scientific project,

        • Colin, this is a fascinating discussion started by the intemperate Mr Beecher. You are persuasive, but I’m left wondering why Christians murdered Hypatia as a witch when she would slip easily into a modern physics faculty being nearly 2000 years ahead of her time. And what happened to science between her and the C17th? Even then poor Hobbes was slated for burning for his work which included a chunk of wrong-headed but sciencesque physiological science. And was it Bishop Temple who raved against Darwin and Huxley much later? My nearest church is C12th A previous rector used to claim that a hook in the porch was where the ducking school was kept.

          • Hypatia was murdered for political reasons. She was primarily a mathematician and astronomer, following in the footsteps of the Greeks and the Babylonian before them. There was nothing about her that falls outside what I’ve already said about Greek or Hellenistic thinkers. NeoPlatonism does not lend itself to empirical science any more than does Aristotle.

            I’m sure you will disagree but anyway, after that, I’m done.

  5. There are many religions: Climate Warming, Climate Warming Scepticism , Marxism, The Church of Immigration is Good for You, Transgenderism, Socialism, Globalism, The Guardian and the Telegraph, many more. Devotees search the literature for confirmation of their beliefs remaining blind to the evidence against. Challenged they get very angry.

    • There’s plenty of observational evidence from the people who bother to study global temperatures. You don’t require unsubstantiated belief. Yet deniers usually quote a tiny number of contradictory reports, as if they somehow outweigh all the others. This is not a rational position, but then that’s religion for you.

        • And how have they decided which few are the “truths” and which the falsehoods? Other than carefully selecting the few that happen to support their particular conspiracy theory. That is neither an objective, nor as I said, a rational view.

          Many of the supposedly contradictory reports turn out to be flawed in some way, or a fallacious interpretation of somebody else’s work.

  6. This is a strange post, splicing different eras, countries and religions and chucking in the odd apocryphal story from the BBC(!) to what end I’m not sure. You can use the same method on any subject under the sun.

  7. If it is true that mosques are packed in defiance of the advice and the law then I am (not) surprised. Is threatening your own and other people’s health another Islamic time-hallowed tradition like sex with schoolgirls we have up here in Yorkshire, and that also never gets a mention in the MSM? Self-destruction is a right, but not if it leaves dependants bereft and the oblivious infected.

    As to the past. As our esteemed editor noted some days ago, not everyone fled to church during the plagues. Pepys carried on in every sense of the phrase as before, and he wouldn’t have been the only one. He attended church diligently twice on Sundays but (as far as I recall) he was a connoisseur of sermons rather than a true believer. He also took the opportunity in crowded pews to grope any hapless lady nearby, writing that he was put off one victim when she stabbed him with her hat pin.

    Religions and crises, viruses and wars, have a multiplier effect: they bring out the best in some people and worst in others. Take WW2 Poland: anti-Semitism led many Poles to shop their neighbours to the Nazis, but so many Poles protected Jews at the cost of their own lives that no other nation received so many Honoured Among Nations citations from Israel after the war.

    The author is a bit hard on the frightened I think. It’s said that our courageous soldiers call for their mothers at the point of death, so maybe we should not condemn people for seeking solace from the one they think is their father.

  8. Sorry, is this the Salisbury Review or the Guardian?

    Puerile, supercilious drivel that would have Sir Roger turning in his grave.

      • Of course Myles. I was exercising my own right there, in giving my view of this piece.

        You might, with equally faulty logic, ask Mr Beecher whether he believes in freedom of religion because he criticises that.

    • Which bit of the article did you particularly disagree with? You didn’t criticise it at all, merely insult the author (which would normally get you banned).

      If you could provide a counter argument that would help.

      • Pay attention, Werdna, old sport.

        I said the *article* was puerile and supercilious. I have no judgement to make on the character of its author, whom I do not know. For all I’m aware, the worst aspect of this sad offering may be the injustice it does to the real character of Mr Beecher. I wouldn’t know.

        You can read some of the other comments for a point-by-point critique if that’s what you want. I was expressing disappointment that stuff of this quality is now considered fitting for the Salisbury Review.

        Hence I think you can guess what you can do, as far as I’m concerned, with the chippy, censorious blather about “getting me banned” etc.

        • “I said the *article* was puerile and supercilious. I have no judgement to make on the character of its author, whom I do not know. For all I’m aware, the worst aspect of this sad offering may be the injustice it does to the real character of Mr Beecher.”

          It’s the words and therefore thoughts of Mr Beecher. If you insult the article you insult him. It’s laughable you can try to argue that a piece of prose is somehow completely independent of the person that wrote it.

          Anyway, perhaps you could quote an excerpt of the article that you think is puerile. I suggest you look the word up in a dictionary first.

    • This kind of banal scoffing at religion is pretty much par for the course among Brits of a certain class, even those who call themselves conservative.

      It’s not even offensive any more. Just boring at this point.

      • This may be a tad simplistic by the exalted standards of the SR but each new day I can’t help wondering what Mother Teresa would make of the panic? I somehow do not see any of the usual suspects working with lepers and “untouchables” as she and her sisters did.

      • It’s not banal scoffing at religion, it’s valid criticism of the behaviour of some religious people believing medical advice shouldn’t apply to them, including a specific example of one who genuinely seems to believe something which is categorically untrue.

        • The most fanatically ridiculous beliefs are held by followers of Islam. Yesterday Central News showed a post written by a friend of a nurse who died with Covid-19 in which the writer said “Allah decided to take her” or similar words. Mass gatherings of muslims in various places ignoring the social-distancing advice have been left unchastened by the authorities. Many of their beliefs are ridiculous superstitions and yet it is Christianity now almost extinguished in UK that is mocked and relentlessly attacked. commentators in the MSM are so scared of muslims and what they might be accused of if critical of their religion that their medieval practices and beliefs are left well alone. Werdna and his Guardian-reading friends exhibit the moral cowardice that reveals them as hypocrites and phoneys.