Opinion: Still Gathering is ‘Foolish’

Opinion: Still Gathering is ‘Foolish’

By C.G. Barrett, Tampa Resident

Tremendously disappointed in Tampa Bay’s religious leaders who still held services this weekend, massing together hundreds of folks in defiance of pandemic containment advice from our nation’s scientists and health experts.

The current significant outbreak in New York City (New Rochelle) and South Korea’s tidal wave of cases have their origin in common: they began when religious believers, unaware they were ill, attended a synagogue and church and sickened those they were near.

Prayers don’t stop epidemics anymore than prayers can stop gravity. Prayers simply empower people to be God’s hands to stop the epidemic. What good is cancelling school and shutting down major businesses like Disneyworld if the local priest is still piling hundreds of willing attendees into the same room, touching the same pews, standing in proximity in lines?

It doesn’t matter that it is voluntary. It is remarkably foolish. And it endangers the elderly and immune compromised in the greater community. In fact, holding religious services in the midst of a pandemic is no less foolish than the local bars next to closed university campuses hosting hundreds of young students who are no longer attending classes to protect their families and community.

Bishops, pastors, priests, imams and rabbis need to cancel services for the next 8 weeks. And we should demand it of them. Smart Americans are already taking the steps they need to protect themselves. But it’s time for government to step in with stronger measures to compel the selfish and the foolish to take the steps needed to protect the most vulnerable in their communities.

Because that’s what God would want.

This column is the opinion of the writer and not Tampa Bay Faith.