COVID 19, Religious Gatherings, and the Question of Freedom

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COVID 19, Religious Gatherings, and the Question of Freedom

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Religious Expression vs. Freedom
My faith had been deconstructed long before COVID-19 hit United States soil and the first (of many) lockdowns began. Where as many decided to lean heavily on their beliefs during a time of fear, confusion, and loneliness, I had ample time to reflect upon my own moral code, belief system, and lofty open-ended ideas regarding human origins, the afterlife, and my mortality. And while I am certain many of these concepts will never be answered, the pandemic has certainly shed a light onto the beliefs, values, and behavior of the religious USA.
Certainly not all, but a large portion of Evangelical Americans and the non-religious have collided on freedom as a concept as well as how to exercise it. The arguments were especially heated in terms of gathering, which was banned in most areas for months in order to protect general wellbeing. As someone who found comfort and solace in my Sunday morning worship sessions, I understand the importance of such community gatherings. When faced with an unknown time without the habit and release of worship, there is bound to be friction.
While friction was certainly there, most Americans followed CDC regulations and recommendations at the start. However it took very little time for discourse, blatant disregard, and conspiracy to settle into communities across not only the USA, but the world. Was the government really able to tell people how to exercise their freedom of religion, even if it meant health was at risk? It seems many Americans value their freedom over health choices. While I found it difficult to wrap my mind around, as I have followed CDC guidelines from the start and since received the Pfizer vaccine, I also understand the individualistic spirit of America as a whole. Patriotism seems to be synonymous with the religious right of America- and our country’s political polarization is nothing new under the sun.
Most churches I am aware of meet weekly or more, masks are scoffed at, and doctors are seen as agents of the state keen on stripping freedoms away from every man, woman, and child. Freedom is clearly more important than both individual health and the health of others around them. I have heard that god will protect those who he chooses to (not the millions who have died, just those he sees fit to protect), that COVID is simply a conspiracy, and that I am a sheep for listening to recommendations of specialists. As COVID regulations and vaccine rollouts continue, there are more questions that will occur. For example, what is the legality of vaccine regulations to enter places of business? There are already areas in which vaccines are nearly mandated (save for certain religious stated opt-outs) such as schools and universities. I feel only more questions regarding freedom and government-orientated safety will continue to occur as this discussion regarding covid gathering has just scratched the surface.

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This item was submitted on April 23, 2021 by Brekken using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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