For the first time in almost 24 years and 5 months, we didn’t have a worship service in our sanctuary last Sunday.
For the first six years we met in the chapel of Carmichael-Hemperley Funeral Home in Peachtree City. Then we moved to our present location on Highway 34 between Peachtree City and Newnan. Neither snow nor rain or any such thing caused us to not meet together. Even during the beginnings of the Covid-19 pandemic, we still had a Livestream crew and broadcast our services from the sanctuary. Until last Sunday.
Our congregation went 11 months without a case of the coronavirus being transmitted at a church function. In fact, during that time, only one person in the church caught the disease at all. At least six people now have Covid-19 with many more under quarantine. Still, there was not a transmission on a Sunday. Why all of a sudden?
Personally, I believe that the spike in this disease, and there is a spike, has come about because people have let down their guard, ceased following protocols, have begun to think that the worst is over, and have stopped wearing masks in public. And, there are still some who think the whole thing is a hoax or some sort of conspiracy.
As far as a hoax goes, 125 people in Coweta County have died of this disease in the last 11 months. 114 have died in Fayette County. 14,413 Georgians have died and 10,307 have died in my home state of Tennessee. As of last weekend, 459,000 Americans have died with a total of 2,300,000 deaths worldwide. A hoax it is not. And this is with tens of millions of people taking it seriously and following recommended protocols.
As far as I can tell, there are two types of conspiracy theories. One is that “the government,” whoever that means, is using the masks, and other measures, to lull the sheep into complacency so that when their guns and freedoms are removed by this same government, they will mindlessly comply.
Doubtless there are government officials, both at the local and state level, that have overreached. But, generally, the courts have shoved these would-be despots back into reality. I don’t doubt that there are conspiracies but they usually involve some people or a political party. Not the whole government.
The other is religious. It’s the notion that somehow requiring masks will lead to mandatory vaccines (more about that in a minute) which will lead to Covid-19 cards which will have to be shown to buy or sell which will lead to an implanted chip or tattoo which will usher in the Beast and Anti-Christ of the Book of Revelation. In other words, the end of the world. Seriously?
As far as required vaccines, it is my understanding that states and employers ready can require vaccines. When I was a kid, I had to present my vaccination record on the first day of the first grade. No shot record, no admission. Certainly the Marine Corps, one of my first “employers,” never asked my permission to vaccinate me against, among other things, Yellow Fever and the Bubonic Plague.
As far as conspiracy theory theories go, some people need to stay off the internet and quit reading what amounts to grocery-store tabloids that say that Jackie Kennedy’s father was an alien and that Elvis is really alive and is the real CEO behind Amazon.
When computers first came out, there was a saying: “GIGO, or, ‘Garbage In, Garbage out.” It was a warning to be careful what information is downloaded or inputted. The internet has enabled non-discerning people, many of whom are really trying to learn truth, to become human garbage containers and garbage dispensers.
Have the government and health organizations disseminated false or misleading information? Yes, I think so. Deliberately? No, I do not think so.
Remember that science is always in flux. When I was in college, we were told that Pluto was a cold, dead, moonless, ice ball with no atmosphere. Then the Pluto probe, New Horizons was launched. And, wouldn’t you know it, Pluto was found to have atmosphere, winds, weather, geologic activity, and Pluto has 5 moons. The largest, Charon, is so bid that it and Pluto actually orbit each other like a double planet. One scientist said, “We now have to re-evaluate everything we thought we knew about Pluto.” Well, how about that. Scientists don’t know everything.
What scientists do, however, is try make the best decisions and recommendations they can based on the information they have at the time. When new information is received, then revisions are made.
That doesn’t mean the scientists dealing with the coronavirus lied. It means they search for new information all the time. And, in a case like the coronavirus, where they had almost no information, new info came in fast and furious over time. Thus, the sometimes confusing and seemingly contradictory information given to the public.
It is a myth that science is exact. The more that honest scientists know, the more they realize how much they don’t know. And that’s a healthy thing. Imagine if medical science never grew beyond leeches and bleeding people.
So, what now? Well, last Sunday, we did have church after a fashion. I led the service on Livestream from my home office because I, too, was under quarantine. Hopefully it was helpful; but it was not what we are accustomed to and we intend to get back to “real church” as soon as possible.
When we do, it will be with enhanced protocols, enforced safety measures, and a special emphasis on the safety of those who meet in small groups. I don’t want anyone to get sick which is why I wear a mask in public. Not because somebody tells me to or because I’m a sheep. It’s because I care about the welfare of others.
Jesus said, “No greater love that this than a man lay down his life for a friend.” Wear the mask, for God’s sake. Be part of the solution and quit being part of the problem.
[David Epps is the Rector of the Cathedral of Christ the King (www.ctk.life). During the pandemics, the church is open at 10:00 a.m. on Sundays but is also live streaming at www.ctk.life. He is the bishop of the Diocese of the Mid-South (www.midsouthdiocese.life) He may contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.]