Spirituality

Published on July 1st, 2020 | by Millennium Magazine Staff

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Report: Bible Belt Christians Are Dying After Ignoring Social Distancing Guidelines

Sad: After ignoring coronavirus social distancing guidelines, conservative Christians in the Bible Belt are dying in “frightening numbers.”

AlterNet reports:

Many Christian fundamentalists and evangelicals have been irresponsibly downplaying the dangers of COVID-19 and doing so with deadly results…

Evangelical fundamentalists who openly defied social distancing guidelines are dying of coronavirus in frightening numbers…

According to a recent report from the U.K.-based Independent, the current coronavirus pandemic has claimed the lives of more than 30 pastors in the Bible Belt, and many more parishioners, after church leaders “actively encouraged churchgoers to flout self-distancing guidelines.”

Writing for the Independent, Alex Woodward notes:

Dozens of pastors across the Bible Belt have succumbed to coronavirus after churches and televangelists played down the pandemic and actively encouraged churchgoers to flout self-distancing guidelines.

As many as 30 church leaders from the nation’s largest African-American Pentecostal denomination have now been confirmed to have died in the outbreak, as members defied public health warnings to avoid large gatherings to prevent transmitting the virus.

Woodward goes on to note that conservative African American churches have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic:

The virus has had a wildly disproportionate impact among black congregations, many of which have relied on group worship.

Woodward goes on to note that despite the rising death tolls, church leaders have not been discouraged, and continue to endanger their flock:

Yet despite the climbing death toll, many US church leaders throughout the Bible Belt have not only continued to hold services, but have urged worshippers to continue paying tithes — including recent stimulus checks — to support their mission.

Progressive Secular Humanist has reported on several high profile deaths in the Bible Belt. For example, last month, Landon Spradlin, a Virginia pastor who claimed the “mass hysteria” around the coronavirus pandemic was part of a media plot against Trump, died from the virus.

And earlier this month, Bishop Gerald O. Glenn, a popular Virginia pastor, died from COVID-19 only weeks after preaching a packed sermon proclaiming “God is larger than this dreaded virus.”

While these sad and needless deaths are a tragic reflection of the willful ignorance that characterizes many conservative Christians, it should also be noted that a recent poll by Religion News Service shows that 90% of Christian congregations are observing social distancing guidelines and have suspended their in-person gatherings.

Bottom line: After ignoring coronavirus social distancing guidelines, conservative Christians in the Bible Belt are dying in “frightening numbers.”


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