GUEST COLUMN – Churches unqualified to set their own rules on pandemic

Service at Langley church. (Image: Riverside Calvary Chapel via Global News)


A RECENT NEWSPAPER ITEM caught my eye, reporting that various churches in the B.C. lower Fraser Valley had officially and publicly rejected recommendations and orders by B.C. Public Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

The orders, of course, were part of a program to limit or control the spread of the current Covid 19 virus, and the churches concerned felt that public health orders designed to restrict public gatherings posed some sort of existential threat to them. Is faith so weak?

Besides being out of line in terms of function, knowledge, and common sense, these churches have intruded into what should be commonly accepted — and defended — as un-sacred but nonetheless precious ground won by centuries of science, not spiritualism or worship.

I have coined the term — “unsacred” — on the basis of some old and sage advice, emanating, I understand, via several stages or routes, from a  fellow named Jesus Christ.  It seems that one of his central recommended modes of survival was “…to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 

Part of what he meant was that everyone should be obedient to the governing authorities.  It’s a basic survival strategy, sort of like vaccination.  And immunology was not found or founded in the Old Testament; it came from human effort and experimentation — called science.  And it works demonstrably better than prayer.

With respect to the current news item and the frighteningly unpredictable virus, it seems to me that those who claim to be experts in or servants of the spirit should not be meddling in the world of deadly viruses, or epidemiology.  They are unequipped, unqualified, and unwanted. 

Nor should they be issuing orders or invitations for their followers to ignore or challenge or disregard the temporal powers of expertise, science, knowledge, government and public health.  After all, the Health authorities do not want to tell you what to worship, or even whether or not to worship.  They simply tell you that to gather in large groups is to court disaster and death, and to unnecessarily endanger others. 

Central in this conflict between the inflated ecclesiastical ego and social conscience is the matter of  spheres of influence and interest, on the one hand, and unwarranted, uninformed, ignorant intrusion, on the other.  The realm of the church in modern society should be primarily about matters of the spirit, and threats thereto.

On the other, more worldly, hand, Caesar has responsibility for public law, public safety and order, public education, and  public health.  Caesar also happens to have on his side the benefit of literally centuries of scientific advancement and learning which have enormously benefitted mankind, often after — quite literally — bitterly-fought wars to advance the quality  of human life, even at the expense of so-called “holy” authority. Martyrs of the spirit are a thing of the past. Pandemics are now.

And for those who reject immunization on a  “hollywood-informed” basis set by some movie bimbo, I urge you to consider whether your child’s life is worth gambling.  Literally millions upon millions of lives have been saved, and millions and millions more made possible, by the advances of health science. 

No society, however tolerant or mechanistic,  could in conscience establish, or tolerate, a two-tier society of vaxxers  and anti-vaxxers.  The latter would, after draining the health-care budgets of its societies,  die off.  And civilized societies have always done their best to save even the stupidest and most ill-informed among them. 

Most of us even vaccinate our pets and cattle!  I think somebody said, “It’s the Christian thing to do.”  Or, maybe even the human thing to do. It also makes sense, and anti-vaxxers do not.  Immunization is science; its opposite is ignorance or stupidity.

Civilized society has always opted for the former, and rejected the latter.  When ignorance goes beyond the one doing the ignoring, it becomes anti-social and destructive. 

Man has been to the moon and back; his machines have been to Mars.  He has eradicated hundreds of killer diseases. He must therefore  continue to work on ignorance and stupidity that threaten not just the uninformed adult, but also innocent children.  They belong not to him, but to humanity and time. They cannot be offered on the altar of  uninformed dogma.

Pierce Graham is a retired Kamloops secondary school vice principal, long-time English teacher and Kamloops Rube Band member.

About Mel Rothenburger (9052 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

6 Comments on GUEST COLUMN – Churches unqualified to set their own rules on pandemic

  1. Even the catholic archbishop of Vancouver had some concerns regarding Dr. Henry recent (arguably) conflicting guidelines. I didn’t find that to be out of line.
    But “threats thereto”? What’s that?

  2. Wouldn’t there be so many better ways to honour the Saviour?
    The same folks could have used their musical gifts to sing outdoors for those who are residents and staff at long term care facilities. No one would have had any cause to criticize a work of caring for others.

  3. Dawne Taylor // December 3, 2020 at 12:26 PM // Reply

    Please do not tar all churches with the same brush. The vast majority of churches are following health orders and offering worship virtually. The Fraser Valley is known for its conservatism in both politics and religion. It is the more right-wing evangelical, “my way or the highway” churches that are holding worship and claiming to be faithful and above the law. They are only a small minority of churches, and are scorned by churches that believe in and practice care and service to the larger community, including in matters of health. Please do not confuse the two.

  4. Bob Boonstra // December 3, 2020 at 10:46 AM // Reply

    Voluntary doesn’t cut it. Mandated restrictions do.

  5. Lesley Lloyd // December 3, 2020 at 9:38 AM // Reply

    Great article! Hits the nail on the head.

  6. Ian MacKenzie // December 3, 2020 at 8:50 AM // Reply

    Well said Pierce m’lad, Maybe a tad pedantic for anti-vaxxers to understand, do ya think?

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