The Church wont survive another Covid scare.
Its happening again. The rumblings of a new Covid-19 strain hitting the country are causing a growing number of Americans to don their N95 masks, stock up on supplies (toilet paper!), and call for social distancing and quarantine procedures for the infected. Setting an example for his constituents, President Joe Biden is, sometimes, wearing his mask at the public events he attends. And the CDC has leapt into action, recommending that all Americans, including infants less than a year old, take yet another booster of the Covid vaccine. This has even become a requirement for American citizenship.
It seems only a matter of time before more organizations enforce various mask and vaccine mandates, media platforms censor dissident views of the issue, and state governments institute universal mail-in ballots next year. And, it is fair to assume that most people will go along with all of itagain. The hysteria of 2020 for the first outbreaks of Covid wasnt designed to teach the American people anything, or even keep them safe; rather, it conditioned and primed them to mobilize for the next disaster.
Fortunately, members of Team Realitythat brave group of people who resisted joining the Covid cultare taking precautions against the precautions. For instance, Governor Greg Abbot of Texas signed off on a law that prohibits mask vaccine, and shutdown mandates at public institutions. And former President Donald Trump has told his supporters not to comply with the coming Covid dictates. They understand that with so many challenges confronting that people today, another bout of Covid hysteria will devastate the country beyond repair.
So what are churches doing about all this?
After all, few institutions have suffered more from the botched Covid response than Christian churches. Already, attendance was declining steadily, but the drop became precipitous after churches shut down and stopped hosting services for so many months in 2020. Even when they reopened, significantly fewer people returned. Evidently, many regular church attenders decided to stay home on Sundays permanently, or they joined the new cults of the time and lit candles for St. Fauci and St. George Floyd.
I remember when this all happened. The churches closed during Lent and stayed that way during Eastertide. My wife gave birth to our youngest daughter at the beginning of April, when the country was officially locked down for 30 days. While sitting with her sleeping on my lap, I would watch Bishop Barron celebrate Mass on my laptop (I figured that since his documentaries were so good, maybe his live-streamed Mass would be good too). Since it didnt include the Eucharistic liturgy, the whole thing was only about 20 minutes longfour readings, some prayers, and a sermon.
I did this for a few Sundays before giving up. It just felt empty. Eventually, some churches, starting with a local Traditional Latin Mass parish, reopened, and I could take my family to church on Sundays again. Another bonus with the parish was that they didnt require us to wear masks and were actually willing to baptize my child. As for the other, less traditional parishes, the pastors and church ladies continued to aggressively demand that everyone, young or old, mask their faces, sanitize their hands before receiving Communion, and keep a distance from other familiesor better yet, just stay home since the bishop granted another dispensation. When it came to Covid, they were truly a church militant.
It took more than a year before churches relaxed their standards and let attendees breathe freely again and actually shake the hands of their neighbors in the pewsthough Im still occasionally denied handshakes during the sign of peace by people who see their Christian brothers and sisters as vectors of disease. Now, more than three years later, most practicing Christians have deliberately forgotten (more accurately, furiously memory-holed) the Covid lockdowns.
This collective water under the bridge mentality presents two major problems. First, it makes it all the more likely that believers will fall for the same gaslighting tactics again. They will again wear the masks, which do nothing but serve as symbols that stoke fear. They will again stop all church services and ceremonies, ignorant of how demoralizing this is for everyone. They will again wrongly equate anti- social actions with charity, never minding how contradictory this is to a faith that prioritizes spiritual concerns over materials ones. In short, they will make the same mistakes again, once the same fear- mongering ramps up.
This leads to a much more serious problem, particularly for Christians: No one has apologized for anything. When secular leaders used Covid to turn liberal democracies into totalitarian police states, religious leaders pushing back were nowhere to be found. Rather, most of them actively denied their flocks the much-needed spiritual sustenance that could have helped restore sanity and stability to the world. When the mandates were handed down, most pastors supported them, clearly more motivated by retaining their nonprofit status and government contracts than protecting their flocks.