Here's another in the endless supply of reasons not to be religious. Or, if you want to be religious, to not be a fundamentalist. It destroys your ability to engage in critical thinking.
Meaning, using reason to learn how the world works, and to act in accord with that wisdom.
Oregon, where I live, has done much better than most states during the COVID-19 crisis. In large part that's because we have a Democratic governor, Kate Brown, who put in place a stay at home order early on and has managed reopening in a judicious fashion, allowing counties to relax social distancing rules only if they meet certain guidelines.
In the generally wide open spaces of Eastern Oregon, Covid cases have been minimal. But that changed when a massive outbreak occurred in Union County.
It didn't take long to figure out that the source of the outbreak was a church that defied public health rules that were in effect. Today the Portland Oregonian has a story about the idiocy of the Lighthouse Pentecostal church.
Download Everything we know about the eastern Oregon church at the center of state’s largest coronavirus outb
Apparently members of the church somehow thought that Jesus, or God, would overrule the laws of nature and virus transmission in favor of their true believing selves.
Well, that blind faith didn't work out well for them. I'd like to think that this will make them put more trust in science and reason than in the fantasies embodied in their Pentecostal teachings, but almost certainly this won't come to pass.
Here's excerpts from the Oregonian story.
A church in a small eastern Oregon county linked to the state’s largest coronavirus outbreak held worship services in the weeks before hundreds fell ill.
At least 236 coronavirus cases are tied to Lighthouse Pentecostal Church, near La Grande in Union County. The number of cases in Union County increased tenfold, from 22 to 240, in three days after the outbreak came to light. The outbreak led Union County to voluntarily return to Phase 1 of Gov. Kate Brown’s phased reopening plan — the county had been at Phase 2 when the outbreak happened. There are now 258 coronavirus cases in the county of 27,000 people.
Leaders of Lighthouse Pentecostal Church have remained silent for the most part about the outbreak. Yet social media posts and interviews with other faith leaders shed light on how the church came to be at the center of Oregon’s largest coronavirus outbreak, and how it has responded since.
The church, which operates in Island City near La Grande, has held several gatherings since May that appear to have violated Brown’s restrictions to limit the spread of coronavirus.
In a May 22 Instagram post, Lighthouse Pentecostal Church said it would begin in-person services Memorial Day weekend “in accordance” with President Donald Trump’s demands that states allow churches to open. At the time, Union County was still in Phase 1 of reopening, in which religious groups are not allowed to convene in large groups. The governor allowed faith groups to meet in gatherings of 25 people if congregants stayed a certain distance apart.
A Facebook video uploaded May 24 by the church showed hundreds of worshipers in the church dancing, singing and moving around in close proximity. The video was later deleted.
A faith leader at the church wrote in a Memorial Day Facebook post that he was proud to be an American, listing one of the reasons as being “able to attend church in our building.”
...Pastor Dan Satterwhite, who leads an affiliated Lighthouse Church in Pendleton, pointed to a Bible verse that he said may have guided the decision to hold services in Union County: Hebrews 10:25.
The verse instructs Christians to have personal contact with each other in order to live out the faith they proclaim, Satterwhite said. It tells believers how to help each other move toward love and good deeds, “Not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
...Before the outbreak, the church’s Facebook page published updates nearly every day. The posts included videos of preachers delivering daily devotionals, livestreams of church services and advertisements of free supplies the church offered to people in need earlier in the pandemic.
The church stopped posting on its public Facebook page Wednesday and has deleted all posts from after June 12. On June 17, it created a private Facebook page.
A person who answered the phone at the church June 15 hung up when The Oregonian/OregonLive asked about the Union County coronavirus outbreak. Every day since, the church has not answered the phone or responded to emails.
Three different leaders of the church declined interviews with The Oregonian/OregonLive.
In a now-deleted daily devotional video published June 16 on Facebook, Pastor James Parker appeared to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I appreciate everybody being cooperative with what was decided and doing your best to help,” Parker said. “In the end, our fruit will show that what we’re doing is the right thing, and more people need to do what we did. The more people that do the right thing, the easier it’s going to be for the rest of the world to combat this pandemic that we’re going through.”
Parker did not further explain what “the right thing” is, and the church did not respond to a request for clarification.