Monday, November 23, 2020

Evangelical doctor group begs churches to stop holding services

"As coronavirus cases spike, a national group that represents thousands of evangelical Christian doctors and other healthcare providers is asking churches to stop holding services in person," Sarah McCammon reports for NPR.

Leaders of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations, who claim 20,000 members, said that Christians who hold large gatherings may "appear to care only about our individual freedoms and don't care that we may be contributing to others getting this illness because of our selfishness."

According to several studies, most health-care workers infected with the coronavirus got it out in the community, not at work, the statement says. That includes church services.

Dr. Jeff Barrows, CMDA's senior vice president for bioethics and public policy, told McCammon that Christians are commanded to love their neighbors as themselves, and that avoiding in-person gatherings is one of the "most tangible" ways to do that right now.

"Barrows said he's particularly concerned about the risk of asymptomatic carriers of the virus spreading it to vulnerable people with weaker immune systems," McCammon reports. He also said that CMDA members who work in hospitals and emergency rooms are warning that the pandemic has stressed the medical system to its breaking point.

"Polling indicates that political conservatives are more skeptical of the need for social distancing, a category that overlaps substantially with white evangelicals," McCannon writes. "According to a survey in May, white evangelicals – the largest religious group in the country by some measures – also expressed more reluctance than most other groups toward the idea of being vaccinated against covid-19."

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