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New Zealand, Coronavirus and the Role of Religion

Discussion in 'General Religious Debates' started by adrian009, Aug 4, 2020.

  1. adrian009

    adrian009 Veteran Member
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    What is the role of religion with enabling the best response to the coronavirus pandemic?

    New Zealand has recently passed the three month mark for having no community transmission of coronavirus. Other than our borders being shut to overseas visitors, we go about our lives as normal. We don’t wear masks and there is no social distancing. We would adopt these practices in a heartbeat if we had to. We are trying to increase the amount of testing in our communities as this is an essential part of surveillance. It provides us with reassurance we are unlikely to have community transmission and enables us to detect it early when it happens again. In all likelihood we will have another outbreak though we’re doing our very best to have robust quarantine measures for the thousands of our citizens who want to come back home. About 0 - 3 people each day test positive as they undergo 14 days in a quarantine facility before allowed into the community. Each one is tested day 3 and 12 after their arrival.

    Of course life isn’t back to normal. We are a country of five million and tourism taken a massive hit along with the hospitality sector of our economy. However being a relatively prosperous country many of our citizens are rediscovering what is on offer through having their holidays with in New Zealand as the option of going overseas isn’t so attractive for now.

    Being an island nation with no borders has been an important factor in being able to control the virus. However, we made the decision to go into an austere and heavily restricted lockdown for about five weeks late March just as the numbers of new cases were beginning to escalate rapidly. The government has provided excellent leadership and I must commend our prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, a young woman whose just turned 40. She has played a pivotal role in bringing us together during a time of crisis. Along with our director of health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, we have been provided with clear guidance of what needs to be done, a realistic vision (elimination of community transmission) and informative updates as to how we are progressing. There’s been a sense of us being a team of five million with each of us having a role to play. Divisive politics were largely avoided for several months though with an election in seven weeks there’s been a resurgence of the typical party politics.

    Essential to our success has been following the recommendations of those with expertise whether in medical science, economics or law. So the appropriate measures of social distancing, hygiene, testing for the virus and contact tracing. Its not complicated. I post this as a reminder of what is possible, certainly not to criticise the efforts across the globe to achieve the best health and economic outcomes amidst a worsening pandemic.

    I also wished to focus on the role of religion during this time of crisis. As a country, approximately 45% of our community identities with an organised religion, predominantly Christianity, but also Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam. There has been limited discussion about the role of religion amidst this world wide pandemic and I’d be interested to hear your comments if you’ve read this far. That role for me has become increasingly clear. We each need to positively contribute to our communities well being whether preventing the spread of coronavirus or assisting economic recovery in a post Covid economy. That means being a good citizen, cooperation with diverse peoples in our communities, being compassionate and kind, adhering to science and supporting positive government initiatives that help reduce the prevalence of coronavirus. There is no room for anti-science, divisiveness and the undermining of good governance.

    Of course you don’t need to have any religion to do any of the above. Do no harm. Better to have no religion than the wrong religion. If religion enables and empowers us to be better, more effective citizens then what is the harm? Such religious affiliation should never be used as a vehicle to undermine those who are understandably sceptical about religion and wish to completely avoid it.

    So how do you view the role of religion to enable the most effective response to the current crisis whether individually, as a community or for governing institutions?

    Thoughts and comments?
     
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  2. sun rise

    sun rise "This is the Hour of God"
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    Sadly religion in the US is much too often utterly failing to support what's needed to get the pandemic under control. Instead I see selfish desires to hold in person services with mass gatherings that further spread the virus.

    It's not universal, of course, but too often religion in the US has become part of the problem.
     
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  3. Evangelicalhumanist

    Evangelicalhumanist "Truth" isn't a thing...
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    Obviously, NZ has done some things well...better than many other countries. Of course, we can't forget that there are lots of contributing factors to how epidemic and pandemic spread happens, and these can change from place to place.

    One can't help but notice, for example, that Melbourne Australia is now locking up again, because after opening up, things started to get out of hand. We have to ask ourselfs, and truly understand, "why?"

    In part, I think, it's because governments are not conveying the complete information that people need: They should be saying (as we are in Toronto, and Ontario), "Okay folks, we're starting to open up. But don't get complacent because this isn't the old days -- there's a whole new dynamic, and a virus that is not going to go away. We must all (or nearly all) behave in ways we did not before, or sure as shootin' we'll be shutting down again before long. And that will be more painful than the first time!"

    We watched, all over the place (including here in Toronto, to my immense dissapointment), people coming out of lockdown and immediately cranking up large parties, no masks, no social distancing, as if everything was the same as last year. It ain't.

    I found myself thinking about Giusseppi Verdi's opera, Un Ballo in Maschera -- A Masked Ball, And I thought, "okay folks, party if you must. But make it a masked ball -- wear a costume AND A MASK, and then stand far enough apart from one another that you can really appreciate each other's costumes."

    Sadly, I suspect even in NZ, if we don't learn to respect the power of this virus to spread, and to behave accordingly, we won't defeat it. And governments can't do that for us. Only we can do it for ourselves.
     
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  4. adrian009

    adrian009 Veteran Member
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    If NZ has distinguished itself for positive reasons in responding to the coronavirus, then the USA has distinguished herself for repeated failures from the earliest days when the threat of this pandemic became widely known. I don't want to take away from the wise and measured guidance of key people such as Dr Fauci and Dr Brix. However, there has been a clear undermining of preventative health measures amongst some parts of America's religious community as well as promotion of misinformation. I'm not so interested too much in a conversation about politics though the government appears to be struggling. Have you read this article in the Atlantic?

    How the Pandemic Defeated America

    I would hope the majority of those with a faith or affiliation to a religious organisation have responded with wisdom, kindness and moderation. Perhaps it is only a small minority within America's religious organisations that act in a manner to undermine an effective response to the coronavirus and contribute to discrediting religion as a whole? The point is whatever our religion or lack thereof, we’re all in this together. With religion being increasingly the focus of negative publicity, there is a greater need for those of faith along with religious leaders to promote positive community values and be freed from prejudices of all kinds.

    Thanks for your response.:)
     
  5. sun rise

    sun rise "This is the Hour of God"
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    I was on an local interfaith zoom call last night with many local faiths attending. We were being introduced to a program to help those in dire need by assembling hygiene kits. And for us, doing it with the recommended distancing, masks and clean hands process.

    This does not make the news like the few who metaphorically wave their arms about and shout. But sadly those few can generate COVID hotspots.
     
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  6. JustGeorge

    JustGeorge Well-Known Member

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    I often feel dumbfounded when I read the day's news, and see exactly how this pandemic is unfolding in the US. I don't get it. Why? Why is it so hard to implement even the simplest measure?

    I believe the situation varies greatly from state to state, and I can only speak for what I see in my area(a Midwestern state in the US). Mostly, I see that those who speak the loudest are making the largest impression, and in my area, there is a large movement amongst Christians that they shouldn't wear masks, as this is anti-American, and therefor anti-Christian(though, I admit, I don't see the logic behind this strain of thought). In yesterday's paper, a local woman wrote in, saying she is an Evangelical, and she wears a mask to protect others, as caring for others is part of what Christ teaches. I could have hugged her, if there was no pandemic...

    In today's paper, I did note our state's Interfaith group is reaching out to the governor in an effort to try to get her to mandate masks.

    I wish those with love in their hearts and concern for others could speak a bit louder than those with hate and discontent, but...they've been speaking really, really loud.... I think some religious organizations are trying, but it's just getting drowned out.
     
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  7. lewisnotmiller

    lewisnotmiller Grand Hat
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    There are some very specific reasons this occurred. We ran a hotel quarantine program for returning citizens, used security guards (rather than police and healthcare professionals) to monitor, and those guards were either poorly trained or not trained at all.
    An inquiry found it was at least plausible that all of our outbreaks...including ones where people had gone on to flout social distancing laws and caused community outbreaks...could be tied back to that failed quarantine program.

    It's hard to overstate how much of a knock-on effect that has had here.

    Even clear messaging can't avoid this, but I think in general terms Victoria was fairly conservative in their approach, and to the reduction in lockdown. And our Premier was reasonably clear in his messaging. There are more specific causes of our current situation, and that has led to strict lockdown here (curfew, 5km max distance from home, only supermarkets, pharmacies and bottle shops open). Unfortunately once an outbreak occurs, especially one poorly initially identified leading to multiple hotspots, it is much, MUCH harder to bring it back under control.

    NZ has an elimination policy in place which makes perfect sense. Ignore foreign visitors and it is actually plausible for them to maintain this for a considerable length of time, as long as they don't become complacent.

    Whilst this is true, you will not ever get 100% compliance to even the most sensible of rules. We have to account for the 'idiot' factor in both planning and modelling.
     
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  8. sun rise

    sun rise "This is the Hour of God"
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    Some people walk the talk. Bless her.
     
  9. Hockeycowboy

    Hockeycowboy Well-Known Member
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    Well, I hope I’ll answer your question...

    For Christians, Romans 13 should be followed.
    “Obey the authorities”
    Unfortunately, those of us in the USA are getting mixed signals!
    Alabama Governor Ivey seems wise by requiring masks be worn, and is protecting the citizens of her State.

    No political statement from me, just a comment.
     
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  10. Deeje

    Deeje Avid Bible Student
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    Yes, we as JW's adhere to all the rules and have refrained from face to face meetings and our door to door activity since the pandemic began. We will not return to our Kingdom Halls until this present situation is under control. Lockdown is difficult....not being able to breathe is even more difficult.

    NZ has been a good example to the world.
     
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  11. stvdv

    stvdv Veteran Member

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    I remember a post of a Jehova Witness, telling worldwide JW have consistent information. JW set a good example to governments this way.

    I remember Trump refusing to wear mask, and I remember south American president or was it Mexican, or both, telling it's not too bad
    They were so confusing and confused to the public, almost as bad as the weather in Holland
    After decades of virus experience, I expected Science to know a little more
    Fauci even knew about this virus in 2017, and Gates predicted it too

    IF it is a worldwide problem, they better have their governments worldwide in line (with spreading fake news or actual news)

    Religions could be helpful, thinking of the JW example above.

    But remembering just another thread, where we were reminded that Christianity alone has more than 30.000 denominations, which means as many different view. Being the largest religion, probably governments are filled with Christians, hence I am not surprised there are 30.000:D:D (exaggeration of course) or so different views and ideas about Corona this year.
     
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  12. pcarl

    pcarl Well-Known Member

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    Its not rocket science is it, common sense. The difference is NZ has a strong leader who actually leads, we have no such benefit.

    I think most of the mainline churches have been willing to follow the guidelines for the good of all. There is always a few who try to turn the pandemic into infringing on religious liberty and defy the common good. I can't speak for all CC's but for my own we have adhered to all of the guidelines set by our governor. Being a faithful Christian does not contradict science and medicines effort towards protecting us, sometimes from ourselves.
     
  13. halbhh

    halbhh The wonder and awe of "all things".

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    There are many religions, and notably in the U.S. even some unalike religions inside the big umbrella word (as modern usage) that 'Christian' has become used to label for instance. For instance, the one that discards too much of what Christ says in the gospels, and is very nationalistic, a kind of blend of nationalism and tradition, having little to do with what Christ taught. That particular one in the U.S. has plenty that follow the current president, as if a...special prophet or such, and then make all the mistakes he does, and more. But in contrast the 'Christianity' that instead does what Christ says includes caring about our neighbors (such as illustrated in the Good Samaritan story) in a way that isn't only for show or only when the most convenient. So, in this Christ-centered Christianity, we can at times make sacrifices, as did the good Samaritan, for others, such as mask wearing. Mask wearing for months is a sacrifice for the sake of other people, as popularly understood.

    ---------
    (side note: It happens that actually even a cloth mask helps protect the wearer also in that a low virus exposure is far better than a high virus exposure in terms of how severe any resulting illness occurs; this is beside the point of this question and answer though.)
     
  14. halbhh

    halbhh The wonder and awe of "all things".

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    2nd thought: It sure sounds nice right now in New Zealand, being able to live without a mask for the moment, due to having so effectively controlled the virus.

    New Zealand already seems as if it's some paradise in some ways, since many of us have only seen it in the LOTR movies! :)
     
  15. PureX

    PureX Veteran Member

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    In the U.S., and to a lesser degree in most modern nations, money has literally become the substance of life. With it comes everything a person needs to survive and thrive, and to be fulfilled in life. Without it there is only desperation, despair, and death. And this is not a 'figure of speech'. This is the actual fact of our existence, now. So that all of our decisions are now being made based on how they will effect the flow of money in our society. Even life and death decisions brought on us by this virus are still going to be made based on the flow of money, because money determines life and death in our society.

    I don't think other nations fully understand this about the U.S., and about capitalism, even as they emulate us more and more.
     
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