Religious Pomposity

As we navigate our way through the corona virus and how we collectively deal with it, we find three kinds of people opposed to the established societal protections that we have all set in place. Most people put these folks into one group and call it good, but they really are quite different and how you deal with them will reflect those differences.

The first group people think of are the covid deniers. These are the folks that think it is all a hoax. The origins of their schema differ depending on the person. For some, they just call it another flu. Others rail against the numbers and think they’ve been inflated. We’ve heard these folks before. It was created in a lab. They already have a vaccine. You know the drill.

The second group of people are those we will call the covid downplayers. They don’t deny the presence of the virus or the numbers associated with it. In fact, these folks have become “experts” as it pertains to numbers. They will quote you the survival rates and how they have been increasing over time. These numbers are true. Over 99 percent eventually recover from the virus. These rates go up the younger and healthier you get.

Of course, that’s the rub with this group. They have difficulty thinking beyond themselves. They are healthy and their family is healthy, so why should we spend so much time and energy preventing this thing? We will just recover. The problem with this is two-fold. First, recovery is a simplistic terms. Yes, most people live to tell about it, but what are the long-term effects? We simply do not know.

The second problem is that positive folks can pass it on to any person they come into contact with. Those folks may or may not have comobilities. In other words, they may pass it on to me with my diabetes, to my wife with her asthma, or anyone else’s elderly parents. So, yes it doesn’t kill most people, but we don’t know the long-term effects and we know some people are more vulnerable than others.

I ran right into the third group this weekend. A former coworker threw up one of those posts on social media that I would simply label religious pomposity. Essentially, these folks (I know you’ve seen them before) assert that the virus is real, but their faith will protect them from harm. They will continue to live their life because God will protect them.

This is where we see some variance. Some will be respectful of others and wear masks in public. This is because they can at least understand the notion that masks are more about protecting others than protecting themselves. Others are more selfish. They are bulletproof from the virus because they have a great relationship with the almighty. I guess that relationship somehow extends to all of the people they come into contact with. Either that or they need to get the same relationship with God or they are on their own.

If you haven’t figured it, these are the people that anger me the most. It isn’t the denial of covid that bothers me. It bothers me sure, but it is understandable on some level. The religious folks bother me more because they are misunderstanding the virus and they are misunderstanding religion. That’s quite a combination.

They are using what I would call an Old Testament understanding of religion. It goes something like this. If I’m good enough and obedient enough then God will protect me from harm. This sounds good, but we can take this to its logical conclusion. In other words, if I’m continually safe then I am continually in God’s favor. If I’m infected or somehow worried about being infected then your faith is superior to my faith. It means that I have somehow upset God or that I doubt the power of God.

Now, for those that have studied their Bible, they remember the story of Job. God and Satan had this bet going that Job would continue to praise God even when you took away his stuff, his health, and his family. Scholars consider it to be a protest work that protests the common conception that health, wealth, and happiness were signs of God’s favor. Those from Old Testament times believe both halves of that equation. If you are fortunate then God favors you. If you are not then he doesn’t.

People that post this kind of thing are continuing to perpetuate this idea. They are doing so in a very selfish and arrogant way. They have God’s favor. They are obviously good and obedient people. They will take advantage of his largesse, so they don’t need to protect himself and others. Unfortunately for them, evidence shows this is not case. Churches have held services in defiance of public safety and numerous members have paid the price. Moreover, many that write such drivel are not as virtuous as they make themselves out to be.

I won’t go into specifics, but I know it’s true of the person I am thinking of. This is why these kinds of pronouncements anger me. It’s the arrogance involved. We are called to be humble. Those that are first will be last and those that are last will be first. Belief doesn’t give me super powers and it doesn’t make me any safer than anyone else. Furthermore, if I’m willing to put someone else in danger because of my faith then I have surrendered any moral high ground I thought I had in the first place.

Author: sbarzilla

I have written three books about baseball including The Hall of Fame Index. I also write for You can follow me on twitter @sbarzilla.

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