A Definitive Ranking of Religions’ Responses to Covid-19: From Least to Most Terrible

Ok, so we are still dealing with this bug, and likely will be for quite some time. BUT, we are also incredibly impatient and quite done with all this nonsense, thank you very much, and would very much like to bring some closure to it. At least before the Sigma strain or whatever kills us all. We figure that by now we’ve probably got enough HARD DATA to make a completely subjective ranking of how well the various world religions have managed this whole thing. Or rather, who did the LEAST BAD. This isn’t to make light of a very, very shitty situation, but to have an honest gut check of where we can all do better. So here goes… 

    1. `Muslims: Gotta tell you, y’all really knocked this one out of the park. There are many reasons this could have gone badly: the concentration of Muslims in poorer, developing countries; the large number of public rituals; and, of course, the conservative mindset of many communities. It certainly wasn’t perfect. Indonesia dealt with a bit of a flare up, as did Malaysia. And we don’t really have a super-accurate picture of the Covid situation in places like Afghanistan, which, as you know, has been going through some shit. It probably hasn’t been great, and will likely get worse, but that’s more to do with basic government dysfunction than religion. When push came to shove, folks did the right thing, keeping Eid pretty safe, and putting off the Hajj for another year. All things considered, the Ummah has done well.
    2. Buddhists: Normally we wouldn’t lump all of you together, but we are lazy and there’s really no reason to do a breakdown here. For the most part, most of y’all are in EAST ASIA, and EAST ASIA has mostly done gangbusters, despite the fact that ONE (OR SEVERAL) OF YOU unleashed this Hell upon us. Well ok, patient zero may not have been Buddhist, but whatever. Either way, the very “Buddhist” countries of China, Japan, Taiwan blah, blah, blah have done very well. Of course, that may not have as much to do with religion as with their more communitarian cultures and SARS experience. In fact, certain traditional elements may have impeded an acceptence of Western medicinal solutions. This is supported by the fact that everybody adopted masks very quickly, but were much slower to get vaxxed.
    3. Reformed Jews: By one metric, y’all could be first or second, but we gotta factor in some of the advantages: high educational background, liberalism, Jewish moms, etc. And then there is the fact that most of you’uns live in well-functioning polities, i.e. New York City and Israel. Now the latter has had a bit of a Delta spell as of late, but so has everyone, so that shouldn’t count against you.
    4. Organized Atheists/Secular Humanists/Whatever the Fuck We Are Supposed to Call You: It’s hard to measure such a small-yet-loud demographic, but most of you blowhards are pretty scientific. Then again, the WHO (full of science nerds) did massively fuck up this whole thing, so we are putting you squarely in the middle rankings. Go soak your heads.
    5. Catholicists: Decent showing, and the Pope was an early vaxx bro,  but not all of you have handled it well. But hey, that still makes you #1 among Trinitarians!
    6. Liberal-Mainline Protestants: Ya’ll are still a bit too touchy-feely and singy to be the best at warding off an airborne scourge, so that land’s you at #6 instead of #5. And as better as you think you may be than #8 on this list, you weren’t that much better. 
    7. Hasidic Jews: It has not gone well, what more can we say? Cramped conditions make any virus happy, but fears of the gentile sciences, an insistence on keeping the normal communal rituals, and general narrow-mindedness have made the ultra-Orthodox a bit susceptible to Trumpitis. Like most, y’all have improved, but those viral hotspots in Brooklyn and Bnei Brak in the early phases of the pandemic count against your overall score, sorry. 
    8. Conservative Protestants: It’s not just that you insisted on doing Jesus crap when you didn’t have to. It’s that you insisted on doing Jesus crap that many of you wouldn’t have done had you not been told not to. But let’s be honest, it’s not so much a religious thing than “owning the libs.” Then again, these things are kinda indistiguishable these days. Sure, plenty of evangelical leaders accept basic epidemiology (if not other branches of science), and have vaxxed themselves, but also helped create this monster of vicious stupidity that has ended up killing their own flock.
    9. Hindus: Yeah, it’s been an absolute clusterf–k. Plenty of you behaved, but 3 million of you did not. Sure, subcontinental politics and poverty has a lot to do with it, but sometimes you just need to skip the big festivals, especially if it is taking place on one of the most polluted sacred rivers in the world. 

Let’s try and do better people.

Your Sunday Semi-Regular Spiritual Roundup

 

So what’s new this week month? Nothing good, as usual, though are working harder to more regularly get you the good content that other people have already discussed more thoroughly on legitimate websites. But hey, we can try and aggragate some of that crap here. That’s something!

British Methodists Enter 21st Century: The John Bulls beat us to the punch again! This month, the UK Methodist Conference reaffirmed their 2019 vote, and will now allow same-sex couples to be married on church premises (gasp) by Methodist clergy (double gasp). Meanwhile the Yanks are stuck in a holding pattern while they try and figure out the best way to schism themselves.

Southern Baptists Avoid Disaster: Last month, the SBC managed to forstall the complete trumpification of their leadership. That doesn’t solve their problems, Oh LAWD no, but it does mean that as an “institution” they will continue to be just regular religious bigots, rather than fascistic religious bigots. They will also likely be able to hold onto to their five remaining Black members. And there’s more good news!…

White Christian Genocide Tapers Off: Great news, assholes! It seems your share of the Hellscape has stopped shrinking for the moment. White Evangelicals are still really struggling to get young blood into their churches. ABSOLUTELY NO CLUE WHY. Will progressive churches find a way to take advantage of millenial agnosticism? Is the Pope Mormon? Speaking of whom…

Pope Not Dead: Well Franco’s intestines seem to be recovering nicely. Still wonder why they insist on electing old guys to do this job when Jude Law already convinced us that 40-somethings could be just as out-of-touch.

Other Stuff Probably Happening In Other Religions Elsewhere: We are sure other religious stuff is happening elsewhere. The Earth is a big place, with regions like the Middle East, where things happen all the time! We encourage you to go look this stuff up. 

It’s Ultimecia’s Damn Fault

Yes, we’ve been away for a while. But we have an excuse! There is a lot going on and we have normal jobs and divorces to finalize and despite our absolute dedication to this website, there is only so much time we can devote away from Twitter. How can we peel our eyes away when some damn thing seems to happen every Friday night, when we actually have time to write when editorial signs off on our weekly content? From one of the last bastions of democracy dying, to Trump finally getting his first viral taste of cosmic comeuppance (with more karma to come, we hope), there is just no time for anything, NO TIME!

No time….hmmm. We actually have a theory about this. How can you explain the fact that so many bad (and bad-but-good) things have happened in such a short timespan? And how else can you explain why it still felt so. damn. long. More importantly, how else could you explain how so much time elapsed between our blog posts when clearly as PROFESSIONAL BLOGGERS we would never allow such a thing to happen? Obviously, there are some temporal shenanigans going on, and we think we know who to blame:  

That’s right, the Sorceress Ultimecia! The once and future Polygonal Queen of Spacetime! The screwed-up temporal relativity we’ve been living in for the past two months (or more?) is the klearest evidence we’ve had so far that she has accomplished the long-elusive TIME KOMPRESSION. Past, present and future are now becoming all present: every moment that was, is and ever will be is being kondensed into a singularity, at the certain of which stands the Sorceress of Sorceresses herself. Without a doubt, she has eliminated the kursed SeeD. It is ony a matter of time before spacetime totally kompresses, and from her singularity will come a new Big Bang, followed by a new, expanding universe shaped according to her will.

For our part, we welcome our new priestess, and hope she will deign to preserve our lives in some pocket dimension, waiting for her new universe to cool down. Or at least donate to our patreon.

Which we will set up.

When we have readers.

Introducing Slightly Arbitrary World Religious Leader RANKINGS

Hello again. It’s been a long month, hasn’t it? That’s what we tell ourselves to assuage the guilt of not having posted in several weeks. Our contributors have been busy worshiping their g-ds, while we’ve been trying to figure out this WordPress thing. But your patience has been rewarded with a new ongoing feature: Stats and Rankings of World Religious Figures!

You already know we like to keep you informed of the current state of the leadership (see right sidebar), but now you get to see how holy VIPs stack up against each other. Now it’s not entirely arbitrary – and these rankings will change – but it’s admittedly difficult to order them without causing some hurt feelings. And not all religions are equal when it comes to producing rankable peeps. Obviously Christendom has the advantage when it comes to the production of leadership positions, while Buddhism has tons of self-help-publishing folks you can’t help but love. In contrast, Islam and Judaism lack the hierarchical or celebrity structure to really give us an obvious choices (and the representatives of the former often carry certain…uh…hard edges).

So for now you are left with a whopping SIX leaders, teachers and masters. We will tweak and expand this list as time goes on, including lesser-known celebrity clerics. In the interfaith spirit, it’s our hope to include every major religion, denomination, school and lineage.

Time to Zoom Into Ramadan

This picture is pretty so we appropriated it (Gulfnews.com/Pexels)

Ramadan, the annual month-long experiment in delayed hunger gratification, is the next religious holiday to adjust to the ‘Rona. We are not Muslim (we needs, join!) but have have tried the fasting and failed miserably, so we have some idea of how difficult it is to go from sunrise to sunset without eating or drinking a damn thing. 

A familiar pattern of webchat-focused events seem to be taking shape. Calls to prayer should be easy enough though it remains to be seen how chowing down on Iftar goes in isolation (we tend to get fat when we eat alone). Unfortunately, nothing virtual can replace the glory of Eid feasting, which is already being downsized in the world’s most populous Muslim country, not to mention the shortages of victuals.

One glaring difference is the extra stress that is going to be placed the very large number of Muslim healthcare workers that are at the frontlines. They are already putting themselves at high risk caring for the infected, but fasting makes that more physically taxing and could even weaken immune systems. Frankly we think all Muslims should get a mulligan this year if they want it, but that’s the impious and lazy Protestant in us. While some jurisdictions are making exceptions for frontliners, such judgments are not universal and, as this nice Vice article points out, many practitioners will refuse the binary choice of fasting/not working or not fasting/working. And of course, in our crappy capitalist society many don’t even have choice at all.

Well, at least this time Muslims won’t be alone in not having decent sex for the next 30 days.

That Was Probably the Best Holy Week/Passover Ever

Despite all the complaints, we suspect there are many of you who secretly love the fact that you didn’t have to go to church on Sunday (and Friday, and Saturday…). Let’s just admit it: few of us actually like church, or at least the “church” part of church. There are many other reasons to go of course, from lookin’ fine to potlucks to subjecting children to rudimentary game theory for our own amusement. But church itself? Blarg. Most pastors will tell you that it is hardest week of the year, which means it is the worst. The combination of Lent + Holy Week is an absolute Hell that lack’s the greed and alcohol that make Christmas tolerable. Ordinary Time is the best time.

And Pesach? Well we haven’t found a Jewish contributor for this site yet (we are looking, we promise!), but we will assume that, as it is also a form of ritual human socialization, Seder is normally terrible as well. But now with “Zoom-Seders,” you can drastically reduce the time, effort and care that goes into reenacting the Great Egyptian Culling. Technical and logistical issues aside, it probably made it more convenient for families to connect this time around, letting numerous prodigals return without putting on pants. Of course, if you are orthodox then you had to get that Zoom up and running well in advance, but electricity was permitted for Bubbe’s sake.

 

It’s Easter Season so Naturally We Have a New Bart Ehrman Book

Everyone’s favorite (or least favorite) star New Testament scholar has a new book just in time for the Resurrection of the non-historical Jesus. We haven’t read it, nor do we plan to, but we do watch his YouTubes and expect that it contains the same “shocking” revelations known to literally everyone with a doctorate in New Testament studies. This time the subject is Heaven or Hell and SURPRISE, it isn’t what you were taught in Sunday School! GET THIS MAN BACK ON THE DAILY SHOW!

Look, we get it. Bart writes for a certain audience. His goal in life is to disabuse low-information believers and college freshman of the notion that Christian doctrine has been shaped solely by the recorded Greek or Aramaic rantings of a first and second-century fringe cult. But his crusade to expose the hypocrisies of the fundamentalists risks a different sort of Biblical literalism that undercuts the whole idea that religions evolve beyond their central texts and that’s OK.

We know his heart is probably in the right place (correcting our incorrect assumptions), but you only need to beat that drum so hard. After the first few books, the people he was going to convince are already convinced, while those who disagree disagree even more. 

Certainly much of the annoyance directed at him from academic theological circles stems from the fact that he has figured out how to be famous and a Bible nerd. And hey, at least he has a PhD in the subject, unlike some. Still, we can’t help but feel that the whole “historical Jesus” project has already accomplished a lot, but now it is just turning people off.

A Roundup of Religionists Behaving Badly During the Coronageddon

While most godly folk have been handling the pandemic in reasonable ways, there have been some contrarians:

  • #FloridaPastor should probably be a thing, as the very Reverend Rodney Howard-Browne has been arrested for illegally gathering the faithful down in Tampa (where else?). Slate’s Christian-in-residence Ruth Graham has an excellent profile of this Trump-loving nincompoop. Will the the equally Trump-loving FL guv’nor bail him out by overruling the county law? Who knows, but Rodney has already canceled service in the face of tyranny. 
  • But it’s not just Korean cults and other Christian crazies. Even some establishment Evangelicals are throwing caution to the wind! Nonetheless, Jerry Jr. will put classes online if he must, but Liberty U will keep its dorms open for the kiddos if they want to come back. Who wouldn’t want to ride this thing out in Lynchburg, VA? 
  • Other religions are hardly doing any better. India already has enough problems without Sikh gatherings becoming hotspots (Holy Moly Hola Mohalla!). And now a Muslim gathering as led to a potential outbreak. Can’t imagine the BJP politicizing that anytime soon!

Well, I guess now is as good a time as any to start a blog.

© Photos.com/Thinkstock. Yes we give credit and so should you, you thieving dingbats.

“May you live in interesting times” is a famous fake Chinese curse. Maybe someone said that around October 2019 (or 2016) and now here we are, though you have to wonder why they directed it at all humanity. Ehhh…more likely God is just punishing us, as God is wont to do from time to time. Probably over Cats.

But with everyone cloistered-in-place, we certainly want to carve out our own little niche in the new online revolution. Places of worship have moved online (well, most of them), so we suddenly have an unprecedented level of access to the workings of Christendom. Our guess is that this will only make your hip startup church more annoying, but now we can at least tweet-bomb it in real-time.

We shall not abandon you in these momentous times, dear readers. In an internet polarized between “bring out your dead” jokes and self-righteous social-distance-shaming, we shall be your sanctuary.

So stand by for more scrumptious, sacrilegious content!