April 10, 2020

Good Friday Fasting Unlikely to End COVID-19 Pandemic

Easter Good Friday

One of the most common experiences I have as an atheist (and especially as an atheist living in Mississippi) is that "what the fuck" moment when I am hit upside the head with the disturbing reality that most of my neighbors still believe religious nonsense. It happens at least a couple times a week, every week.

Here's a timely example of the sort of thing I'm talking about from Religion News Service: Christians across traditions call for a Good Friday fast in response to pandemic. The article tries to make this into a positive by highlighting an image of Christians from many different denominations, as well as some Jews and Mormons (who may or may not be Christians depending on who you ask), joining with Catholics to fast today. Fair enough. I suppose we could consider it positive that some Christians and Jews are setting aside their differences for a day.

I struggle to get past the title of the article, though. How is fasting and/or the prayer that inevitably accompanies it a response to anything? People, it is 2020. Can we still not get past believing in magic? Can these people seriously believe that groveling before the same entity who many think sent this virus to us is going to appease it? Who do they think they are to think that they know better than this being and can get it to change its mind?

Some will say that people are scared and that people do dumb things when they are scared. I agree, but we see this sort of nonsense regularly from people who aren't involved in whatever the tragedy of the moment happens to be. The school shooting, hurricane, and terrorist attack all lead people not directly affected to make the same sort of religious pronouncements and participate in the same sort of antiquated rituals. The fact that this behavior continues is embarrassing. Perhaps it fails because there isn't anything out there to appease, or perhaps believers are directing their pleas to the wrong entity. Either way, the futility seems apparent.