Retreat, rebuke, recite: outliers in church responses to the COVID-19 pandemic

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Abstract

The article considers atypical responses to the COVID-19 pandemic by Christian leaders. In a three-fold classification it first identifies a retreat from civic life in resistance to lock-down restrictions on places of worship, demanding reopening on extreme readings of rights of religious freedom, and refusal of mandatory mask-wearing. A second classification groups as ‘rebuke’ spiritual warfare approaches within the prosperity gospel tradition that take the virus to be demonic, from which there is a promise to be claimed of God’s protection and healing. A third classification gathers a range of conspiracy theories recited by Christian preachers. In evaluating the responses, a parallel classification of entombing conspiracies, endorsing public health measures, and engaging in civic life is proposed. Drawing upon the common good as a theological critique it is concluded that extremist Christian views present a danger to global public health.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-21
Number of pages14
JournalPractical Theology
Volume14
Issue number1-2
Early online date14 Feb 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2021

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Public health
  • Churches
  • Prosperity gospel
  • Lock-down
  • Pandemic
  • Freedom of religion

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