Can’t we chalk this up to God’s will?
Courtesy of WaPo:
The novel coronavirus is pressing painfully on the soft underbelly of U.S. houses of worship: their finances. About a third of all congregations have no savings, according to the 2018-2019 National Congregations Study. Just 20 percent streamed their services and 48 percent were able to accept donations electronically, the study found, making it more challenging to serve the faithful and gather their donations during the virus shutdown.
The blow has been hardest on the nation’s many small congregations (about half of U.S. congregations are the size of Stuckey’s or smaller). Some experts think the coronavirus could reshape the country’s religious landscape and wipe out many small houses of worship. These are places where members typically go to seek guidance and comfort, but members are now finding closed buildings and desperate pleas for funds.
“It’s like a father who can’t do for their child. Like if God sent Jesus to Earth but couldn’t do nothing for him. There’s nothing I can do, and that’s one of the worst things a father can say to a child,” said the Rev. Rickey Scott, pastor of the 175-member East St. Peter Missionary Baptist Church outside Oxford, Miss.
With funding at about 65 percent of normal, Scott has cut all of his staff, including church musicians and secretaries, and is agonizing about congregants who are isolated. He streams Sunday services and Wednesday Bible studies live on Facebook but knows only about half of the congregation is connected. The region has poor connectivity, many people lack money to pay for devices to connect to the Internet, and some are older and uncomfortable with the technology.
And it is not just Christian churches that are feeling the pinch.
Typically U.S. Hindu temples collect money when worshipers come throughout the week to pray and make offerings or when priests go to their homes to perform special blessings. Many smaller temples are staying open to do the required prayers with skeleton staffing even as no visitors come to donate.
Among them is the Sri Panchamukha Hanuman Temple in Torrance, Calif.; this month, it put out an urgent Facebook appeal for financial help.
“There are no devotees. The temple is completely closed,” the priest, Sriman Narasimhacharya Cherukupally, says in the appeal video, with a large representation of the Hindu deity Hanuman behind him. “Please be with us, with your kind heart, and protect and save your temple.”
Now my disdain for religion is well known so I doubt many will be shocked that I do not see any of this as a bad thing.
My hope is that the virus will contribute to the decline of religious belief in America and help us to break free from the faith-based shackles that connect us to ancient superstitions that do so much ill in the world today.
If it accomplishes just that much it will make it impossible to see the virus as an overall bad thing.
If it also helps us to get rid of Donald Trump we may have to name a day of celebration in its honor.