By Linda LaScola, Editor
As this awful year draws to a close, I realized I hadn’t heard much about religion, except for churches complaining about having to close to protect against the spread of the coronavirus. So I Googled “virus religion” and “virus god” and found a few things readers might find interesting.
According to the May 2020 issue of Forbes:
“A poll conducted by the University of Chicago Divinity School and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found most of the 1,002 respondents see a deeper meaning in the pandemic that has killed nearly 87,000 Americans and tanked the economy.”
The same poll is quoted in other news sources. Here’s a quote directly from the AP:
“Overall, 82% of Americans say they believe in God, and 26% of Americans say their sense of faith or spirituality has grown stronger as a result of the outbreak. Just 1% say it has weakened.”
So God is winning, as he usually does when people are feeling desperate.
And here are three more juicy quotes in the Hartford Courant about the same survey:
“Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe the COVID-19 pandemic is a message from God. But they disagree on the message.”
“Most believers in our poll are confident that God will protect them from infection during this pandemic. Believers also think that God is telling humanity to change the way we are living.”
“White evangelical Christians are much more likely to blame foreign governments (50%) as opposed to their own (20%). Believers in other faiths are in the middle, and non-believers tend to blame their own government (49%) more than foreign ones (41%).”
Truly, I think I could have predicted those responses:
- Of course God is talking to us – but what is he trying to say?
- People see themselves as being protected by God – only other people will get the dreaded disease.
- The Evangelicals blame others for Covid, the liberals are “in the middle” where they are usually residing comfortably on many issues, while the non-believers place the blame where it belongs.
I eventually found a fundamentalist Christian source, that provided an answer to skeptics who might ask something like this about God’s role in the pandemic:
“If there is a God who is all-powerful and all-loving, why doesn’t he stop this coronavirus?”
Here’s the answer:
“God promises that those who know Him will be set free from the penalty, power and presence of sin. So, while the coronavirus is racing through the world, God has not forgotten us and is still in the business of bringing others into a relationship with Himself.”
In other words – God still loves you, even though he seems bent on killing you.
Finally, The American Psychological Association, which does not take a stand on the veracity of religious belief, points out that religion is very experienced at providing comfort when needed:
“Religion has been helping people get through hard times for thousands of years,” he says. “It’s tested and ready to go at a moment’s notice. Just read the psalms and you will see that it is all about people turning to God during troubled times.”
**Editor’s Questions** What has helped you get through 2020? What predictions do you have for 2021?
Bio: Linda LaScola is co-author, with Daniel C. Dennett, of Caught in the Pulpit: Leaving Belief Behind (2015) and “Preachers who are not Believers”(2010). They are also co-producers of a play in development, “Adam Mann – Not his Real Name” written by Marin Gazzaniga, that is based on their research. Linda lives in Washington, D.C and holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the Catholic University of America. She is a co-founder of The Clergy Project and Editor of the Rational Doubt blog.
>>>>>>Photo Credits: COVID 19 By NIAID Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML), U.S. NIH – https://www.niaid.nih.gov/news-events/novel-coronavirus-sarscov2-images, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=87089605