"Worship Meeting" by Josué Goge / CC BY 2.0

Iowa religious leaders opt out of Reynolds’ eased COVID-19 restrictions

Apr 29, 2020

By Beau Bowman

An order signed Monday by Gov. Kim Reynolds allows religious institutions to begin gathering again, but some church leaders said they do not think it is safe to do so.

On Tuesday, the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa announced that 21 leaders from 10 denominations signed a statement urging religious institutions to refrain from in-person worships and other gatherings.

According to the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa, religious leaders expressed concern over Reynolds allowing churches to gather once again despite the states growing COVID-19 outbreak.

The signed statement said, in part, “It is by our faith that we are compelled to love our neighbor. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, that love comes to expression by remaining physically apart.

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4 comments on “Iowa religious leaders opt out of Reynolds’ eased COVID-19 restrictions

  • When governors order mandatory evacuations before a pending hurricane, often there are citizens who decide to stay in place, ignoring the order.

    Choosing to do so means that first-responders will not be able to help in hard-to-reach areas, and so those citizens who remain must accept that fact.

    Similarly, those who wish to “pack those churches” should be denied hospital care. If citizens decide to ignore public-health warnings, then the risk to healthcare workers should also be mitigated.

    For example, if there’s an accidental fire and a firefighter dies, it’s unfortunate. If, however, a fire is started by arson, and a firefighter dies, it becomes manslaughter if not outright murder.

    Religion justified slavery and then was used (partly) to abolish slavery. Now religion justifies social-distancing while simultaneously giving an invincible god-complex to the ignorant.

    It’s another instance that shows the impotence of religious bunk.


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  • Dave 137

     

    I wonder if I might offer a different perspective on our problem of the church/mosque/synagog goers in the midst of a pandemic.

    While I do share your sense of alarm over their irrational behavior, I am certainly not surprised to observe it. I understand that it’s entirely predictable.

    When governors order mandatory evacuations before a pending hurricane, often there are citizens who decide to stay in place, ignoring the order.
    Choosing to do so means that first-responders will not be able to help in hard-to-reach areas, and so those citizens who remain must accept that fact.

    You start off with the situation described above. The fact that first responders will not be available to help those who insist on staying in their homes – Why is this the policy? It is because in an effort to rescue the remainers, the first responders are taking on an unacceptable level of risk to themselves. In ethics, we have a number of ethical obligations. There are two that I believe apply here.

    The first is beneficence; The obligation to do good deeds for others, especially to contribute to their virtue (goodness of character), knowledge or pleasure. In ethics, regarding helping behavior, we are obligated to help others if we have the ability to help but we are never obligated to take on harm to ourselves in the process. How much harm we are willing to take on in helping others must be decided by introspection.  If others who are dependent on us suffer for our helping behavior that is also unacceptable. We would have no choice but to back away, sadly.

    In light of this, the first responders can not be expected to take on a very high risk of death and injury in an attempt to save those remainers or any other person in deadly peril.

    The second ethical obligation that I believe applies here is that of justice. This is a two sided obligation. 1. (negatively) we are obligated not to commit injustice. 2. (positively) we are obligated to prevent future injustices and rectify existing ones.

    Fairness and neutrality in policy needs to guide public policy. Policy and procedure without the best attempt of objectivity leads to corruption. I try to understand situations by reversing the details. When I jump to a negative attitude about the behavior of others I immediately place myself in the victim’s role. What if it was me stranded in that hurricane, even if it was through my own (now realized ) stupidity? What if it was my mother? (a person of habitual bad judgement). Do I/we deserve to die for an admittedly colossal misjudgment? There are any number of reasons why a person refuses to leave that house while a hurricane bears down on them. People are like that. Our ability to proceed through a rational risk/benefit analysis is very limited! I’m telling you; They can’t help it!

     

    Similarly, those who wish to “pack those churches” should be deniedhospital care. If citizens decide to ignore public-health warnings, then the risk to healthcare workers should also be mitigated.

    I can’t say that those church goers are the same as our remainers from the example above but one thing they all seem to have in common is a lousy grasp of those risks/benefits. The pious bunch of all stripes are operating under some unfortunate degree of cognitive load as a result of their childhood indoctrinations into the religion of their parents. It’s a pernicious ideology and highly resistant to criticism or modification. It delivers to the victim a sense of persecution and invulnerability at the same time. Both of these features are driving the flocks straight into the arms of their so called loving God/Allah/Yahweh, whatever. I have to say the same thing as I did above; They can’t help it!

    Now Dave, if we can say that these people in both examples have decided, even in light of our best advice, to carry on with their plans to stay in a dangerous meteorological situation, or walk into their favorite house of God where almost certainly a deadly virus is waiting for them, do they then deserve our aggressive scorn or even our punishment? Are they not victims of their own fallibility?

    They deserve medical treatment to the best of our ability as a demonstration of justice (everyone treated fairly in the medical system) and as a demonstration of our ethical obligation of beneficence. We must help them as much as possible without taking unacceptable risks on ourselves.

    Punishment in these cases get us nowhere fast.


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  • Hi, Laurie.

    “There are any number of reasons why a person refuses to leave that house while a hurricane bears down on them.”

    If someone has legitimate reasons why he/she cannot leave, I wouldn’t apply my previous view. People who are physically unable or economically refrained from leaving do not fall under such criticism. But those who are capable of leaving, yet choose not to, essentially wave their right to receive an emergency response: because they chose to put themselves in harm’s way ahead of time.

    “…do they then deserve our aggressive scorn or even our punishment?”

    They deserve scorn, yes. It’s similar to anti-vaxxers who refuse to immunize their kids. It puts others at risk unnecessarily, and so scorn is more than fair. And it’s not punishment; it’s the consequence of their own decisions.

    “Are they not victims of their own fallibility?”

    Well, yes and no. Being duped inspires sympathy, but they must remain accountable for what they think. They can’t “victim” themselves out of that responsibility.

    “They deserve medical treatment to the best of our ability as a demonstration of justice (everyone treated fairly in the medical system) and as a demonstration of our ethical obligation of beneficence.”

    As I pointed out with the firefighter example, intent matters. Everyone deserves medical treatment, yes. But those who knowingly risk themselves should not be allowed to risk the health of others (particularly when it comes amid an uncontrollable pandemic).

    “We must help them as much as possible without taking unacceptable risks on ourselves.”

    That restates my entire point.


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  • Dave137

     

    If someone has legitimate reasons why he/she cannot leave, I wouldn’t apply my previous view

    If we try to classify reasons for not leaving as legitimate or not we are definitely going to slide into some seriously subjective muck.

    But those who are capable of leaving, yet choose not to, essentially wave their right to receive an emergency response: because they chose to put themselves in harm’s way ahead of time.

    So we do agree on this and in fact it must be public policy because we’ve seen first responders pull back from these intense hurricane situations, intense fires, mountain climber rescues and other issues that are judged to be too risky for first responders to enter. But if those victims of any of those situations managed somehow to survive, do they deserve medical care after the fact? Would you deny medical care to the hapless covid patients who almost certainly became infected at religious services? I can’t wrap my mind around it. This policy has an air of vindictiveness about it. But correct me if I have your position wrong.

    If the antivaxers (and their children) become ill from a disease that could’ve been prevented with a vax, will you deny them medical care?

    Being duped inspires sympathy, but they must remain accountable for what they think. They can’t “victim” themselves out of that responsibility.

    I think it’s the paragraph above that disappoints me. I want to see a policy based on ethics as I described above. I’m tired of judgmental, condescending, pay the price policies.

    If we can help then we will help while avoiding the situations of unacceptable risk. Aside from that, we can help before, during and after a crisis. If someone is brainwashed or just stubborn as a mule, or incapable of processing the simplest risk/benefit analysis,  I don’t really care.

    With the antivaxers, since there are children involved, I am loath to mandate vax by the government but I don’t mind a program of strong incentives and perhaps some negative reinforcement as well but that’s the Psychology major in me. ha


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