It should come as no surprise that certain sacred religious practices are remarkably unhygienic. Holy water in church fonts tends to be rife with fecal bacteria. Believers who ritually kiss the same holy stone or other religious artifacts no doubt end up sharing microbes. Millions take ritual baths in filthy lakes and waterways in which human waste and dead bodies float conspicuously on the surface. And closer to home, well, are you sure that Father Murphy washed his hands before pinching a series of eucharists between his fleshy fingers and putting the Jesus crackers, and maybe those digits, on one wet tongue after another?
Could habits like these have anything to do with the spread of religiosity itself? Are some microbes essentially carriers and distributors of faith?