January 20, 2013

Can't They Just Pray Away the Flu?

Dr. Gregory S. Neal, UM Elder, presides at the...
Dr. Gregory S. Neal, UM Elder, presides at the Eucharist. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This has been a bad flu season for nearly every state in the U.S., including those here in the so-called "bible belt." I was out of commission for a couple weeks during the holiday season. Even though I remembered to get my flu shot this year, I still got a bad and long-lasting case of the flu that eventually sent me to the doctor.

I suppose my illness could be chalked up to my atheism and the fact that I am not "saved," but that does not explain why so many of my Christian acquaintances and their entire families were sick too. It is almost as if their god makes no distinction between those who believe and those who do not. Of course, this same observation could also be consistent with the possibility that this god does not exist.

According to Religion News Service, some religious leaders are trying to help their congregants protect themselves against infection through some sensible reality-based measures.
Several Catholic dioceses, including Manchester, N.H., Boston and New York, are advising priests to consider not offering the shared chalice of consecrated wine at Holy Communion at Masses. Communicants would only receive the consecrated wafer.
That sounds reasonable indeed. It would be horrible to catch the flu from drinking "Jesus blood" during mass!

Some churches are even encouraging attendees to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer. Others have been encouraging flu shots. These are sensible precautions indeed.

I was surprised to see that the article made no mention of prayer as a means of preventing or treating the flu. As much as I appreciate the steps some religious groups are taking to prevent the spread of the flu, I do wonder why they aren't simply praying it away. The rest of us may have to rely on science, but surely they could appeal to their gods for assistance here.