Coronavirus and religion update – 31 March, 2020
More than half (55%) of American adults have prayed for an end to the spread of the coronavirus, according to a Pew Centre research survey. And 24% of people questioned, who say they do not belong to any religion, have prayed about the virus.
The survey of 11,537 adults in the United States, conducted between 19 and 24 March, breaks down responses by religious affiliation. Those who pray in this way include 35% of the Jewish population, 82% of evangelical Protestants and 68% of Catholics. Among those who seldom or never pray, 15% have prayed in this outbreak.
The survey also revealed that 57% of those who normally attend religious services have watched online instead.
- The Archbishops of Canterbury and York are asking clergy to conduct funeral services at a graveside or crematorium chapel, and not in a church. They say this is a risk the church doesn’t need to take. The request was in a letter sent to all clergy, advising all to continue their ministry while staying at home. It asks them to do all they can to ensure pastoral care is offered to all, including those without access to the internet.
- Dr Jonathan Boyd, executive director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, considers reports that a disproportionate number of Jewish people are dying from Covid-19. The Board of Deputies of British Jews is collating death statistics which show that 42 Jewish people have died from the coronavirus in the UK – accounting for 3.4 per cent of deaths. Jews make up only 0.45% of the UK population. He argues it is too early to tell if this is a trend, as other factors such as age, location, travel and wealth come into play. He says statistics will continue to be monitored, while the best advice for all is to stay at home.
- Muslim Hands, a charity based in Nottingham, has joined 35 other charities and non-governmental organisations to combat the effects of the coronavirus in the city. It is co-ordinating its approach to food banks, delivering supplies to the vulnerable and other frontline services to help those in need.
- KhalsaAid International, based on the Sikh principle of “Recognise the whole human race as one”, is working in UK cities including London, Coventry, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, and Leicester to help vulnerable people. It is appealing for public support to replenish food banks, provide student food packs and create a team of volunteers. Volunteers have taken hot meals to NHS staff in
- Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical Christian organisation led by Franklin Graham in the United States, has worked with state officials and hospitals to set up an emergency field hospital in Central Park, New York. The charity offers assistance in global disaster zones and provides medical staff as well as logistical support. It has also sent a medical team to Italy to deal with 100 patients in a field hospital and, in a tweet, describes how medical staff pray with frightened, lonely patients. New York is the epicentre of the coronavirus in the US, with 66,500 people testing positive and 1,218 people dead. The Central Park hospital will care for 68 critically ill patients. Franklin Graham is the son of the evangelist Billy Graham and was planning a nationwide tour of the UK in June. All eight venues cancelled on grounds of upholding diversity and equality values, after Graham’s fundamentalist views on homosexuality became known.
- The pastor of a megachurch in Florida has been arrested after holding two Sunday services, in violation of Covid-19 health restrictions, The Guardian Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne said the church was an essential business. Last Sunday’s service at The River Church, livestreamed on YouTube, shows hundreds of people worshipping.
- Reuters reports that 2,500 cases of coronavirus have been linked to a mega church meeting in Mulhouse, on the French German border, held in February. Local authorities believe it was transmitted to Burkina Faso, Corsica, Guyana and Switzerland. 17 members of the congregation have since died of related complications. The Open Door church service was held in a shopping centre seating 2,500 people.
- In Jakarta, Indonesia, armed forces have moved more than 200 Muslims to a quarantine centre, after three people who attended Friday prayers on 20 March tested positive. They were part of a Muslim Tabligh gathering, a group that promotes evangelism. More than 100 are foreigners wo travelled for a large event which was cancelled at the last minute.
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