Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Covidiots - Texas Turnips

Pastor Ron Arbaugh, Calvary Chapel San Antonio.
"Responsible for 50 Covid-19 cases"
'I accept full responsibility:' Calvary Chapel pastor talks church's COVID-19 outbreak | WOAI

Pastor Ron Arbaugh, of Calvary Chapel San Antonio, Texas, has belatedly accepted that he is responsible for the fact that 50 of his church congregation have Covid-19, including himself, due to inadequate social distancing precautions when he decided to reopen his church.

One person is now on a ventilator. The church has contributed to the high and rising second wave now requiring strict lockdown measures to be reimposed in Texas, due to a bungled lifting of the first lockdown. New cases in Texas were above 8,000 yesterday and the trend is relentlessly upwards.

Data Sources: Cases and deaths data from JHU CSSE. Policy actions from the National Governor’s Association, D.C. Policy Center, and Washington, DC’s Coronavirus website.
Arbaugh claims he followed the guidelines to the letter but, unfortunately, the guidelines issued by the Republican governor, did not include a ban on close physical contact or require face-masks to be worn. The result was that, with a lot of friends not having met for several weeks, there was an awful lot of hugging. So, another American church has become a major Covid-19 hotspot despite the beliefs prevalent amongst fundamentalist Christians that the virus is a hoax, they have magical protection from it provided by Jesus, and anyway it's a mild illness and nothing to worry about.

Despite his expressions of regret and 'taking full responsibility' Arbaugh plans to open his church again on Sunday, this time only insisting that attendees wear a face-mask - and no hugging. Obviously, getting people into his church is a much higher priority to this Christian pastor than is the health and welfare of his 'flock'.

Meanwhile, Texas governor, Greg Abbott, has belatedly ordered the wearing of face-masks in public in counties with more than 20 Covid-19 cases (in effect, almost all of Texas' 254 counties).

With Covid-19 cases surging again across the USA, maybe these instances of irresponsible churches led by avaricious pastors desperate to restore their income after weeks of lockdown, will make American conservative Christians begin to take this pandemic seriously and realise that magic spells and an invisible friend are not going to protect them. Indeed, the evidence is quite the opposite - believers are particularly susceptible to infection given their tendency to gather together in mutual admiration and to bellow incantations and magic chants in a pointless attempt to influence events.

Covid-19 cases 8 July 2020
Religious belief
Indeed, superimposing a Covid-19 incidence map on a religious belief map for the USA shows a close correlation between the two.

The coincidence of Covid-19 infections and religiosity in America's Bible Belt is striking and should raise questions in the minds of devout Christians. Why does it look like God is inflicting this lethal virus more on believers than on non-believers and selecting the most religious for special attention?

It remains to be seen whether the covidiots in states like Texas will realise that wearing a face-mask is not the liberal left political statement that Trump advisor and right-wing loon, Alex Castellanos dismissed it as, but an indicator of higher than average IQ and of concern for the welfare of fellow citizens.

The debate now is not whether face-masks should be worn but which is the best type and how, when and where it should be worn.

As for churches clamouring to be allowed to open, there is no reason they can't live-stream whatever rituals they feel are needed to impress their god so believers can join in in the safety of their own homes, where they are a danger only to themselves and not to the rest of society.

Of course, this may mean that believers are unable to put their piety on display and pastors are likely to take less by way of donations, but that should be a small price for any sincere, loving Christian to pay.

Will the Texas Turnips learn this lesson? That remains to be seen, but the signs are not good.

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