The voice of religions in times of coronavirus

Home Focus The voice of religions in times of coronavirus

We are all aware that religion has been seen and used throughout human history as an instrument or weapon of breaking down (as a tool of colonialism, oppression or suppression) or of breaking through (as a tool of liberation, transformation, reconciliation and healing). Today, the voice of religions in times of Covid-19 is that of healing and maintenance of healthy life and living conditions. Let me briefly explicate. 
At the outset, let us firmly and boldly state that Covid-19 is not a sickness caused by God to punish human being for their sins. Instead all religious people or faith communities are called upon to endlessly pray and firmly holding on to faith in God while concurrently recognizing that we are call upon to take more radical measures to take care of one another, of ourselves, and of the society in which we live, nationally and internationally because Covid-19 is not local but global. This situation calls on our solidarity and accountability, mindfulness, care and wisdom. This situation also calls for our signs of faith, hope and love. We need one another now as sisters, brothers, colleagues, and friends to support one another in the reorganizing of our work, but also we need one another’s support mentally and spiritually.
In means for religious communities to affirm the place of religion in the public space. God of Life requires us to realise that we are living in the public space and consequently subject to laws and regulations issued by their government. Churches, Temples and Mosques will support the efforts of the government that promote and protect life. 
Accordingly, all people of faith must support public health regulations and just efforts to stop the spread of this virus that affects all humans without discrimination. Such religious communities are also called to set an example of responsible adherence to public policies. At times, they will even push local and national governments to heighten restrictions on movement and gatherings in order to protect the most vulnerable and the elderly. Such actions shall help and protect society and health systems from being overstretched.
Therefore, as people of faith we are call upon to pray for the researchers trying to find treatment.  Let us pray for all medical doctors and sisters, who come in contact with the virus daily, and continuously express our gratitude to them through prayer and by following their guidelines such as “stay home and healthy” or that the Church or the Temple or the Mosque be the place to protect human life and not centres of transmission and transmission stations. While praying and having firm faith in the Living God the Creator of all human life requires from all good and faithful Christians/Muslims/Hindus to maintain physical and social distancing and avoid the company of more than ten people be at Church, religious places, sports, cultural dancing, choirs, schools, shops, banks, etc. In short, when medical protocols dictate, the wellbeing of vulnerable neighbours is best served by not assembling.  
So, God is expecting from you as faithful Christian/Muslim to pray that this Covid-19 not be prolonged, for a speedy recovery of those who are seriously afflicted, and for the spread of the pandemic to come to an end. In particularly be a friend indeed for the “least” among us, namely the poor, the vulnerable, the elderly, and find ways to assist the sick directly, to help their families and children. 
At the same time let us embrace and support the bold directives and assistance given by our Government in the Republic of Namibia. In short, obey the advice and practical recommendations offered by intergovernmental and governmental health authorities to help protect the vulnerable in our communities.
Finally, this is a time to touch each other’s hearts, by what we say, what we share, what we do – and what we do not do – to protect the life God loves so much. In that love, we must adapt our modes of worship and fellowship to the needs of this time of the pandemic, in order to avoid the risk of becoming sources of transmission rather than means of grace.
Differently expressed, in times of a global pandemic like Covid-19 it is wise not to gather in one place for worship as an expression of compassion and solidarity. It does not diminish our worship but embodies worship in a new way. It doesn’t make us be less the church or less religious or even putting us in a category of people who deny the existence of God, but fully the church or fully the religious communities. This is the paradox of compassion that comes with the current pandemic of Covid-19. This is the paradox: remaining together while physically distanced. 
Therefore, make the following guidelines in order to be alive tomorrow: pray, maintain social distancing, rely on the World Health Organisation as the global authority on health issues, wash your hands frequently, practice respiratory hygiene by coughing or sneezing into a paper tissue or use the bent elbow, avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth, clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, and  – especially those that are shared, using regular household cleaning spray or wipe, and stay at home and be friendly and maintain good human manners. By following these guidelines you are serving God, people, and the creation.