Dealing with Covid Conspiracies/in your local church

I am absolute blown away by leaders at every level (starting with the local church) who are believing and endorsing conspiracies, and looking down on believers who do not agree. I keep hearing about how it is a matter of 'choice" (in this instant) to attend church, or not, when they do open (they are pushing hard for this). I am gobsmacked that people don’t understand that it is not about two equally valid choices, and that we can’t gather, because even though you might be healthy, you might be asymptomatic and spread the virus. Instead it has been turned into an attack on the body, a limit of our constitutional freedoms (I am in Canada), etc. They don’t trust the science, experts, but turn to “experts” who are whatever the latest conspiracy seems to be. It is incredibly divisive wherever you look, whether in my own life, to reading people online. There is almost no point in engaging, as people are so convinced of their “rightness” but in this instance we are on the side of “right”, but how to convey humbly and correct wrong information? You cannot, so many stay silent, and this conspiracy laced issue continues to divide the body deeper and hurt our credibility to be a witness.
My own church leaders are deep in the “woo” of this, and just so disappointed and unsure how to proceed.

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Yeah. Join the club.

One thing I have appreciated here over the last few weeks is that if you have a particular theory in mind that you would like to address with your social network, you can ask the hive mind here for good refutation sources and enter your conversations very well-prepared. I haven’t seen a many things on Facebook lately that I haven’t seen first here. Evidently other people’s friends and family are ahead of the conspiracy curve compared to mine, I guess.

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Thanks Christy. It is really difficult , as my biggest people are I see with these issues are our pastors, elders and other leaders in my church. I was struggling here prior, dealing with rigid Calvinism tendencies, strict YEC, complentarism, rigidity with youth who question, issues with counselling philosophy and mental illness and a being Harvest Church (I struggle with what to do there since the James MacDonald debacle).

See, when I read that list , it sounds like a slam-dunk that it is time to go, but I struggle there is much good there, good people, etc. We have been here 5 years, since leaving my childhood church over the transition to hyper-Calvinism and legalism, which was hard to do, but since our shift, this church joined the Harvest network and has moved more to the alt-right theologically, then I like. This pandemic has heightened a divide I think already was there, and my concerns as listed above. It is just so difficult.

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It’s sad that going to church can be so hard. I hear you.

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I know leaving a church can feel kind of like a divorce and cause a lot of collateral damage. But you have quite the long list of incompatibilities. Praying you’ll have wisdom about what is best for you and your family and a clear path forward. If nothing else, maybe the temporary move to online services would allow you to check out some other options in your area with no risk to your current relationships and a certain degree of anonymity.

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Thanks Christy. I have had that same counsel from friends, including ones who have left our church to lead elsewhere. I haven’t been checking other services on-line, but that is a good idea!

I would find a better church/denomination. It’s like a having a cancerous tumor removed–it will be painful at first, but you eventually heal. And when you’ve completed the transition, you’ll wonder what you waited for!

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I know of a church where there were effectively two different congregations meeting as one. There was a precipitating occasion that led to a significant proportion leaving and forming a new church. I don’t know how it is doing, but the remaining congregation is much better for it.

There can be significant differences between churches within a denomination too, of course.

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I’m sorry you’re experiencing this. I have had similar feelings, though I appreciate that the elders at my church have reached the consensus to follow the rules, despite pushback. It may be a case where the most extreme viewpoints are also the loudest, but it still makes it seem like so many people are unraveling and not just the ones who are usually down the rabbit hole, but people that I would have considered more discerning too. On the one hand this seems like a bad time to leave a church, but on the other, this may be exposing ideas that were there all along, just beneath the surface.

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Yes, definitely true. And there can be a variety of views in one large congregation. But it sounds like this church has its ways set in stone, a “my way or the highway” kind of thinking. It’s very depressing!

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I can understand. It’s truly difficult to know what to do. It could be that God could use you as a voice of reason in that congregation. It could be that God wants you elsewhere. I guess it could be a lot of things, and the only way to know is through prayer. He promises wisdom to those who ask, right? :slight_smile: I will pray now for you.

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I’ve heard this a lot in my circles too. I might hear it more phrased ‘if you are comfortable or not.’

Another thing I thought is that people might just come if symptomatic. I don’t really trust my fellow humans (or myself) to do a proper clinical diagnosis in the absence of a viral or antibody test. I’ve heard so many people say “oh this is just a cough I’ve always had” or “it’s just allergies.” They might be right but… yeah.

In light of me potentially be asymptomatic I wore a face mask to church to help protect others and I was the only person out of about 40 who had one. And at least one person said they felt fear and asked if I was afraid. I told them “no.” And I later got to say this mask is not for me, it’s for you. That was a short conversation.

That reminds me of this:

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My church just announced they tentatively plan to reopen in August, and they noted that is subject to change. On-line services continue. That seems a prudent approach.

But I think part of the narrative is not about religious freedom specifically; it is more about freedom and personal choice in general.

There is a philosophy that people should be able to make up their own minds about how much risk to take in life. That is appealing to me.

Although it is difficult to change churches, that might be something you may consider in the future — if you have lost confidence in the judgment of the leadership at your church.

In the interim, there are lots of opportunities to sample other churches now without leaving home!

And I think that’s a dangerous thing to let people decide when it comes to certain things… especially when the risk is invisible and is a risk to public health.

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And I think it is especially dangerous to deny people the freedom to make their own choices.

There was an excellent interview Sunday on BBC of a former Supreme Court Justice. His points included the fact that we should not imprison an entire society because some will be irresponsible.

The interview was better than the transcript, but here it is:

By the way, the SciMoms article does not do a very good job of presenting the Covid-19 mortality rate (and likely significantly overstates it due to the many asymptotic infections).

The variable of age is exceptionally important in the risk assessment. People my age and older are much more at risk than young people. The mortality rate is high in nursing homes, and that has much to do with comorbidity.

Isolating, or self-isolation of, the subset of the population that is vulnerable is much more reasonable than the one-size-fits-all rules.

Unless their choices lead to harm of others.

As it was written in March. But the point still stands. People are awful at evaluating personal risk as well as the risk that their actions have on others.

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The high end given in their figure is too high; the low end is about right, maybe a bit high.

Doing that effectively requires a lot of planning and organization, something that can’t be done in a week or two while an epidemic is out of control. That’s what a global lockdown is supposed to buy you – time to plan, stock up on supplies, start trying out different therapeutic approaches. Different countries around the world, and different states in the US, have been trying to figure out the best way to move toward a functioning economy with minimum restrictions, while still keeping the outbreak from running wild and still protecting as many as possible. Some are doing a better job than others. Regrettably, the Federal government has been largely counterproductive in these efforts.

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Yes, that is why we have speed limits and require people to pass driving tests.

But that is not the case with coronavirus. People who want to isolate can isolate. Then the isolationist will not be put at risk.

An example:
My oldest daughter has a degraded immune system. She is isolating at home with her daughter and husband. There is no personal external contact.

This isolation is her right. The National Guard will not come to her house and drag her to the Chic-fil-a.

So I have not been allowed to visit, and I am fine with that. She has freedom to control her life. And she does.

So she sent a set of criteria that my wife and I must meet in order to visit. Tough criteria. Things we would not normally do.

I am packed. We leave in the morning. It was our choice to meet the criteria. It took some time. We exercised our freedom.

—————
I live in Georgia.
Governor Kemp took a lot of body shots for opening the state early. He trusted us. He believed in our freedom.
Now the new case rate is half what it is in the US on average (cases doubling every two months in Georgia vs. cases doubling every month in the US).

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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