The Coronavirus Global pandemic may turn out to be the biggest religious enquiry of our lifetime. It raises metaphysical questions such as: Why is this happening? How did it happen? What does it mean? Does God want to intentionally punish the whole world? If so, where did we go wrong as humans? What does he want us to do? Will it ever end? When will it end?
Questions like that can lead to prayers. We are confronted with life and death choices not just about our own well-being but also about our communities. And so, whether or not someone sees themselves as conventionally religious or not religious at all, it’s hard not to be engaged with the spirituality and ethics of the pandemic and to pray. In other words we have two choices to pick from, find metaphysical solutions and answers by praying or use scientific research to find a solution. Most countries use the 2 mediums; anyone that works is fine hence there is a solution.
In my own personal opinion, I want to believe in the fact that religion plays a very important role in whatever we do professionally and personally too. In research, faith is very important in whatever study we are working on which reminds me of this quote from Albert Einstein that says “science without religion is lame and religion without science is blind” so the 2 works in sync with each other.
Which was the reason why I was not shocked when I noticed that religious gatherings were being held online during the lockdown period. Almost a month ago, mosques, temples and churches were declared open with strict warnings to follow the NCDC recommended guidelines for the reopening of religious centers. Overtime, we noticed that some churches and mosques obeyed and followed these guidelines while orders flaunted the order, which has made the decision of the government to reopen worship centers look stupid. Now the question is, who is to blame.
The emergence of Covid-19, has adversely shaken the religious faith to a large extent. Now most educated people now believe that health infrastructures are more important than churches and mosques. So nobody goes to church or mosque anymore.
Confirming this, Miracle Ogechi is a choir mistress at Cherubim and Seraphim at Eweje Mafoluku, Lagos. Speaking to Lagos Post Online, said;
“I used to be very active in church long before the outbreak of covid-19 in Nigeria, and as the choir mistress in my church I don’t miss Sunday services for any reason. But covid19 came and we have to suspend church services, we have been at home and we have been surviving in the absence of Sunday services and now that our worship centers have been reopened, we don’t have that vibe of going to church anymore like we used to do before. Chatting and watching movies or even sleeping through Sunday mornings has become the new normal for us.
Getting back the church vibe might be difficult. It is not as if I have lost my faith or that I am no more a Christian anymore because I still pray at home and commune with God even more, but I don’t have the urge of going to church again.
Who knows, the vibe might come back again but for now, the spirit is willing but covid-19 has made the flesh weak. Besides the fear of contacting the virus in church is also a challenge and can be overwhelming at times.
Although I still have the passion for singing and I crave to sing as always but the willingness to go to church on Sunday is no more there. she noted.
As the Corona Virus continues to spread throughout the world, various religious leaders have adjusted services to the new normal system. Across the world, religious leaders have worked with public health experts to provide advice on how to mitigate the risk of gathering in religious settings such as mosques, churches, temples and synagogues and in that process maximize the benefits of faith to aid efforts to mitigate COVID-19. Such examples are hygiene and the use of face masks.
It is paramount for religious leaders to emphasize personal hygiene and food hygiene to their Faithfull.
Faith can play an important role in global efforts to promote hand hygiene, which in the current context is fundamental to reducing the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak. Buddhism, Islam, Sikhism, Hinduism and Judaism all encourage the washing of hands before and after eating food, before prayer and after using the toilet. Christianity, on the other hand, in general does not place the same religious emphasis on hand washing. It is important that the Christian community should imbibe this as a culture and norm in the course of worship. This will help make our Christian community and churches a safe haven free from covid19.
In disparity to the benefits of faith related hygiene factors, there are also religion-related risks. Most world religions encourage individuals to congregate in places of worship to pray together, this is particularly risky for those who are elderly or have health conditions. It is common for religious ceremonies to include physical contact, for example shaking hands, or kissing common religious items for example the Torah in synagogues, the sacrament in the catholic church and of course the bible in some protestant churches. This presents additional challenges in the context of the current need to socially distance individuals in places of worship.
Marginal number of religious faith-driven individuals in Nigeria or what I tag as “religious fanatics” more especially some protestant churches that i have witnessed or even watched on live T.V, have the mindset that God’s anointing on a person protects him/her from being infected with the Coronavirus. This mentality I feel is the high level of irresponsibility by religious leaders on what they feed to the public in the pretense of preaching the word of God.
I was privileged to visit Arena market, one of the public markets in Oshodi Lagos and a few other public markets where I visited to buy essential needs. Market women who refuse to wear face masks when queried, all have almost the same answer saying that God is protecting them. This response obviously was triggered by their religious leaders. Continual public health education is being intensified among such women who are unlettered and have been deceived by ‘fake’ pastors who only think of their offerings! Laws must be enacted to prospect such so-called men of God who defame religion!
Covid-19 does not spare anyone regardless of religion and faith. Quite a number of religious communities around the world have been shattered by this disease. That shows the level of trans-nationality and globalism of this Covid-19 disease.
Speaking to Lagos Post Online is Evangelist Cornelius Mbanude a renowned Evangelist of Mountain of fire Ministry. He said;
“I find it irritating why our Government is so biased with their decisions in the ease of this lockdown and how they add less importance to religion. They are quick to forget that it is only God that can deliver us from this terrible pandemic so why would they be quick to open the markets and stall in the process of the opening of worship centers.
This obviously is not fair on our Christian communities. Let us call a spade a spade, this is a deliberate attack on the Christians from an Islam leader or it is a system of undermining the importance of Christianity in our society.
The public markets have to do with the physical gathering of a lot of persons doing business together, same with the worship centers but I am quite aware and even certain that social distancing could be easily maintained in the churches than in the market places.
Going forward, I think the Government should work hand in hand with the pastors and various religious leaders more in the fight against this virus. Because all I see is the hand of God in this thing and it is only God alone that can save the world from this deadly virus but if the government continues to side track the Christians in this fight, then they can never win.
This is a war by the devil and spiritual evil forces wedged against humanities and it can only be fought with spiritual forces because the bible said ‘that the weapons of our warfare are not canal’ In as much as science is important, we can’t win without God because one with God is the majority.” He concluded.
Therefore the Church and State are part of Creation and should work together in the promotion of a society free from covid19. How could Separation be a good thing? Look at the length of Global Ruler-ship and the scientific, artistic and Spiritual achievements of Global Societies that view their human existence as One with Creator-Spirit and Spirit’s manifestation of its own Self in the multiple forms of visibility and invisibility.
Covid-19 was an unexpected event for all followers of different religions and affiliations. But it does not mean that they do not have the experience to deal with it. Taking cognizance of the fact of what I wrote in one of my previous posts. When I wrote that Muslims were faced with similar pandemic calamities in classical times and they have some specific rules managing such situations. Quarantine was the first act urged by religious leaders without any exception. Home worship became the sole way of operation.
Covid-19 threatens our common existence, and the response to this threat is a great unifying factor for all communities of faith. Religious leaders occupy positions of leadership in local communities. They could play a key role in mobilizing their respective communities in the response to the pandemic.
Religious beliefs and observances provide important resources for coping with the adverse effects of the pandemic. Like I earlier noted, It is advisable to adjust to the new normal.
Covid-19 had a serious effect on all religious bodies across the world and were put in a situation never faced before in our time but this saw a rise on social media platforms which were now being used as a platform to continue to spread their individual messages to their communities, the main question still stands, what happens when it all ends as no one has ever been in this situation before and history can’t teach us anything on it either?
We hope that a lot of us will still be alive at the end of it all to tell the story on how we survived a terrible outbreak.
And we all should remember that work and faith works hand in hand. In truth, God is the Supreme Being and he alone has the key to redeeming us from this pandemic through science. So as we work towards finding a cure, we should also pray, in other words we are meant to adopt a system of working and praying at the same time because prayer without hard work is fruitless.