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Religious Right impedes American battle against coronavirus

Religious Right impedes American battle against coronavirus

The world regaled in the reports of a <em>gaumutra</em>, cow urine, party hosted by right-wing fringe elements in India. We read with bated breath news from China about teas, traditional medicines and chicken soup cures. Now we have Americans calling up health lines to find out if disinfectants can be consumed to banish coronavirus.

Believe it or not, Americans have been ringing emergency numbers and poison control centers in Maryland and New York asking if drinking bleach or swallowing capsules would rid them of the dreaded Covid-19 infection.

It all started with US President Donald Trump's innocent question to his officials, whether injecting disinfectants could be a cure for coronavirus. Many a faithful American thought they had indeed found a cure. <strong><a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/24/us/politics/trump-inject-disinfectant-bleach-coronavirus.html">Trump's statement</a></strong> sent public health officials and representatives of bleach companies into a denial frenzy. The executives might actually be muttering a million non-stop thanks to Trump for getting them a billion-dollars-worth of free publicity.

That is not all. There are Americans priests who are propagating that coronavirus happened because man has sinned and did not follow God's path. Well, according to them, coronavirus is God’s wrath on mankind for straying off the path. In Christian-majority America, there are people who vehemently believe in such sermons.

Well, you can't blame them all. The faithful believed Trump when he said that he would like to see the <strong><a href="https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-trump-and-religious-right-rely-on-faith-not-science-134508">Christian churches packed on Easter</a></strong>. For an overly religious country, where over 70 per cent people profess various shades of Christianity, and a majority looking up to the good president, keeping some people out of churches and coronavirus at bay has been difficult.

Just look at the facts. The US is the worst affected country globally with nearly a million infections and 55,500 deaths. These are figures which the world would, in normal times, witness in a developing country.

With religion on their minds and god in their hearts, right-wing Christian priests have been vociferously defying social distancing, condemning stay-at-home orders so that believers can come to the church. This has proven to be fatal. Some priests have even <strong><a href="https://www.christianpost.com/news/pastor-dies-from-coronavirus-after-defying-states-social-distancing-order-wife-family-infected.html">paid with their lives</a></strong>.

However, the danger is that they are not merely risking their lives, they are risking their flocks' as well. Many Christian priests have denounced coronavirus as an agent of Satan and have openly challenged local officials from preventing them to hold assemblies.

The disinformation peddled by the American Christian right-wing is unbelievably superstitious – almost a mirror to the European way of life from the Middle Ages. Priests have told their followers that coronavirus will not harm the believers. Others have urged the faithful to come to the church, hug each other, shake hands and not fear the infection.

Yet there are other priests who want the faithful Christians to keep visiting the churches so that the money keeps flowing in. From across the country – Virginia, Florida, Texas, Louisiana and other states, <strong><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/apr/04/america-rightwing-christian-preachers-virus-hoax">Christian priests</a> </strong>kept announcing and praying that they want people in their churches, virus or no virus.

It is not just the Christian clergy that is opposing the lockdown. As people across cities remain locked-up and increasingly feel frustrated, thousands have stepped out in defiance. Undeterred by the deaths happening across the country, particularly in cities, Americans turned out in varied numbers to protest on streets while others came out in cars to block roads. <strong><a href="https://www.vox.com/first-person/2020/4/25/21234774/coronavirus-covid-19-protest-anti-lockdown">Mocking their government</a></strong>, and coronavirus, they are not even wearing masks.

Everyone has a reason. There are Americans who believe that the virus is a hoax. Others fear loss of work and earnings. Some are protesting the violation of civil-liberties. And then there are those who feel the government has over-reacted.

They are Christian, white, right-wing, privileged and yes, supporters of Trump. Like the Christians in churches, they too are offering themselves to risk by grouping together.

Worried by anti-lockdown protests, healthcare professionals too held opposing protests. On the frontlines of medical care, they have seen pain and death. For them the virus is not an invisible reality and people are better off indoors.

America is confused. Trump’s governance does not inspire confidence. The <strong><a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/04/christian-cruelty-face-covid-19/610477/">Church marches to its God’s</a></strong> tune. With such fertile environment surrounding it, coronavirus rages and ravages..