Things get silly when this political science professor claims that churches spread Wuhan Flu because they’re “ideal vectors for disease”. Silly because, before you even hear anything, you already know that every church in your region was proud of meeting in parking lot tents with chairs set at pool-noodle distances from each other. If it didn’t close entirely.
Faith in numbers: Is church attendance linked to higher rates of coronavirus?
By Ryan Burge, Non-tenured prof of political science at Eastern Illinois U, 13 May 2021
To ask the question is to answer it. To read the article the way to the bottom, is to answer it correctly.
The lockdowns that almost every state went into in order to combat the spread of COVID-19 in the spring of 2020 interrupted nearly every aspect of Americans’ lives. Businesses were shuttered, schools closed and social groups stopped meeting as scientists rushed to understand the pathways through which the virus spread.
One of the most controversial parts of the lockdown strategy in the United States was the closure of churches across the country.
It should have been controversial. Instead. the entire Christian Church voluntarily closed itself as a massive virtue-signal. His hypothesis cannot possible by true. Everything from here on is popcorn time.
New hypothesis: this political science professor doesn’t actually know what the Church did.
But as an analyst of religious data, I believe the latest evidence appears to point to the clear conclusion that there was a correlation between attending church and the spread of COVID-19.
He’s published some papers, particularly concerning the Emergent Church movement.
Public health experts strongly urged churches to cease congregational meetings during the worst parts of the pandemic, noting that religious services were an ideal vector to spread the virus.
How so? Because we sat indoors on pews, sang a few songs and occasionally munched some wine & crackers? Why hasn’t the Church been an “ideal vector” of disease before Chinaball season? Not enough trans-blacks with advanced engineering degrees to notice?
They pointed to incidents such as that in March 2020 when a choir practice in a church resulted in 87% of attendees being infected with COVID-19, and two members losing their lives.
Ohh, right. Well, a one-time event during peak hysteria as described by the Christ-hating media is undeniable proof of a global trend that went unnoticed for 2,000 years.
But the closures were met by a massive backlash among conservative Christians who believed that executive orders closing religious institutions were a clear violation of the First Amendment’s freedom of religion protection.
No. Burke is talking exclusively from his prejudices here… and from NPR, to credit his link. A few churches across the continent could not make any kind of difference in propagation rates. I wish the Church had been massively disloyal to the State that for decades previous, had sneered “Separation of Church and State” at our moralizing. It didn’t happen. Anywhere. At all. On the entire planet. For two years now. Unless you count a very polite lawsuit that’s still going nowhere.
Burke literally doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
Some places of worship simply ignored state closure orders. As the pandemic wore on and people tired of socially isolating, many churches, mosques and synagogues began to reopen.
Islam and Judaism spread disease! Hmm, no published papers credited to him on THAT yet.
Although this was bad news from a public health perspective, it meant social scientists were able to investigate whether churchgoing during the pandemic did indeed lead to a higher level of infection. And in March 2021, the Cooperative Election Study released the results of a survey it fielded in October of 2020. The annual survey of the American public saw a total of 61,000 respondents quizzed over a number of topics.
Alongside a question about their level of church attendance, respondents were asked if they had been diagnosed with COVID-19 during the past year. Because of the highly partisan nature of the response to the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns, the sample was divided into Republicans, Democrats and independents.
aka Churchians, Atheists and No Comment.
The trend in the data is unmistakable – the more frequently someone goes to church, the more likely they were to report that they had been diagnosed with COVID-19 during the first seven months of the pandemic.
Gonna quote him on that.
Just 3% of Republicans and 4% of Democrats who never attended church were more likely to respond that they have been infected. Among those who attended church multiple times per week, nearly 11% of Democrats had tested positive for the coronavirus, while 8% of Republicans reported the same.
How shocking that people with social lives get sick more often. I would snark about how the government should ban all human social behavior, in all forms, in perpetuity, as a preventative health measure… but THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT IT DID.
It’s worth pointing out that there’s not a large partisan gap in those reporting a positive COVID-19 test – in most cases the share of Democrats and Republicans who had been infected did not deviate by more than one percentage point. There’s ample evidence that Democrats took public health directives more seriously; however, that may have been offset by the fact that Democratic areas tend to have high population density. Urban areas were especially hard-hit in the early days of the pandemic.
Cities cause disease! Sending associate professors of political science back into gong farming on the rural fief should absolutely be a CDC ‘mandatory health guideline’. Don’t scoff; those gong farmers were essential workers.
The survey results do come with some caveats.
Quote: “The trend in the data is unmistakable”. But if the data itself is not reliable then the trend don’t mean jack. This is garbage in, garbage out.
It’s important to note that this is a survey of self-reported infections, without any independent verification. A concept in public opinion research called “social desirability bias” highlights the tendency of respondents to lie when they are asked a question that is sensitive in nature. As such, the number of people infected may be an underestimate.
Translation, Christians didn’t lie about being infected. “The trend in the data is unmistakable”: liberals will lie to get believers in trouble.
‘Do you go to church?’
‘Did you get Chinaballs?’
And while the focus here is on church attendance, it’s logical to conclude that individuals who felt comfortable going back to weekend worship were also more willing to engage in other social activities. It is therefore difficult to isolate whether church attendance was the vector that most likely spread the infection, or if a general disposition toward social gatherings drove up the likelihood of testing positive for COVID-19.
A credit to Burke for admitting the correlation between church attendance and general social activity. I take back the credit because it means he knew this piece with its attention-grabbing headline was a hit job from the get-go.
Nonetheless, it does seem fair to conclude that those who attended church more frequently in 2020 were also more likely to be infected with COVID-19.
Uh-huh. “It’s people who socialize that spread disease. Church is one of many forms of socialization. Therefore, Church spreads disease.”
One notices that Burke gave no consideration whatsoever to what Church attendance might have done to comfort, reassure and de-stress people during times of hardship and uncertainty. Which is entirely consistent with his still maintaining that banning hugs, clean air and visits to Grandma will create a better, healthier tomorrow.
Not to mention, let us never forget, that Burke gave not a moment’s thought to whether there might actually be a God. Church is nothing to him but an optional social activity of dubious benefit and a collection of fairly tales that hurt the feelings of transsexual freaks. That must be singled out for destruction? Why does he not just ignore the Christian like he ignored the Muslim and Jew?
But the closing thought you should have, is that to believe his own data and conclusion, Burke had to be ignorant of what the Church actually did during the first rounds of lockdown. He only parroted the headlines and news feeds.