Churches as super spreaders- a report of incidents across the world

The Kumbh is still flogged as a super spreader without any hard evidence. But Christian gatherings that became super spreaders never find the light of the media. Their uncontrolled behaviour in not complying with Covid-19 norms or campaign against vaccination doesn’t find mention in the public platforms either. But here is a report of how churches became super spreaders, violated government guidelines during this pandemic and refused to vaccinate themselves.

Out of the 89 news reports compiled here 16 are on how churches violated government guidelines during Covid-19 pandemic, 44 reports are on congregations held during this period, 21 incidences are on Chritians adopting Hindu tradition of cremation owing to Covid deaths and 5 incidences on the community refusing to get vaccinated.

Violation of Government guidelines

1) Officials close Calgary church, citing disregard of COVID-19 rules

  • Alberta’s health services delivery agency says it has “physically closed” a Calgary church whose lead pastor was arrested last month for allegedly violating COVID-19 laws.
  • The contempt of court charge against Tim Stephens of Fairview Baptist Church was later withdrawn, but Alberta Health Services announced Saturday that it has now “prevented access to the building.”
  • In a news release, AHS says the action was necessary because it alleges the pastor has continued to disregard public health measures.

(todayville.com, 6 June 2021)

2) Vietnam imposes tough social distancing rules, launches criminal probe after Covid-19 cluster linked to Christian church

  • Strict social distancing rules were imposed in Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam as a COVID cluster detected to a Christian group called the the Revival Ekklesia Mission.
  • 129 COVID patients have been linked to the cluster 
  • Nguyen ThanhPhong, said that the restrictions were imposed to contain the cluster of infections connected to the congregation in Church.
  • The congregation is suspected of violating the law that bans “spreading dangerous infectious disease in humans,” news website Vietnamplus reported. (rt.com, 30 May 2021)

3) Canada arrests another pastor over breach of Covid-19 restrictions

  • A third pastor has been arrested in Canada for defying Covid-19 public health orders.Tim Stephens, the pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Calgary, Alberta, was arrested on Sunday. 
  • Police said the arrest was made because of a service that “did not comply with public health orders, including masking, physical distancing and attendance limits,” breaching an injunction. (christiantoday.com, 19 May 2021)

4) Canada’s bullying of Christians is turning it into a tyranny    

  • One group of people that has encountered problem after problem with the restrictions put in place by governments during the pandemic has been Christians and tensions are beginning to rise due to the apparent targeting of Christians who simply want to go back to church. 
  • In Alberta, a church called Gracelife has been physically fenced off by the government until its leaders agree to abide by government rules regarding mass gatherings.
  • In the same province, a pastor in Calgary named Artur Pawlowski kicked health officials and police out of his church, comparing their tactics to those of the Gestapo, after they’d arrived to investigate supposed public-health violations.   (rt.com, 26 April 2021)

5) Pastoral Services kills Catholic priests daily in India

  • Many Pastors were holding pastoral services during the pandemic. 
  • At least 120 Catholic priests have died from Covid-19 in India or an average of four each day. 
  • Capuchin Father Suresh Mathew, editor of the church-run Indian Currents magazine, listed the names, dioceses and religious congregations of 117 priests who died in the period from April 10 to May 14. Of the 117 priests listed, 48 are from different religious orders, with Jesuits topping the list with 19 deaths.
  • A senior Catholic priest who did not want to be named said poor mental health is a major issue among priests, “although the cause of their death is pandemic infection.”

(ucanews.com, 16 May 2021) 

6) Police fine 26 people and a church after illegal faith gathering in Nova Scotia

  • A church and 26 people have been fined following an illegal faith gathering in the Annapolis Valley on Sunday amid a surge of COVID-19 case numbers in Nova Scotia.
  • Officers with Kings District RCMP were called to Weston Christian Fellowship Church in Weston, N.S., shortly after 11 a.m., where they found a faith gathering underway.
  • Twenty-six people were charged in the event, as a result of the gathering, and then the organization itself that was hosting the gathering was also charged,” said RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Chris Marshall.
  • During a COVID-19 briefing on Monday, Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin expressed his frustration over people flouting health regulations during the provincial shutdown, saying it was “outrageous” that 37 fines were handed out over the weekend in the Halifax area. “What is wrong with you,” he said, speaking to those not following protocols, and asked why they were not taking the pandemic seriously

                   (globalnews.ca, 10 May 2021)  

7) Christian pastor violates Covid protocol, performs marriage in church with 300 people in Andhra

  • A case has been registered against a Christian pastor and the parents of the bride and bridegroom for performing the marriage in a church in presence of over 300 invitees. The incident took place in Thatipaka village in Andhra Pradesh. The pastor violated the Covid protocol declared by the Government amid a rise in daily cases.
  • The Razole Police arrested four elders of both sides. SubinspectorKrishnamachary on receipt of the information visited the church while the marriage was in progress and booked the case suo moto, Uniindia reported.
  • The names of the arrested were Thathapudi Joseph (48), MuskudiAavullaswamy(50), UllampartyLakshmanarao(57) and UllampartyMariyamma (52). The case was booked under section 188, 269 read with 34 IPC, police said.(indiafaith.in, 8 May 2021)

8) Calgary police arrest street preacher, brother for violating public health orders

  • Calgary police have arrested two organizers of a church service who have been defying public health restrictions throughout the pandemic.
  • On Saturday, Artur and DawidPawlowski were charged with organizing an illegal in-person gathering, inciting or inviting others to attend an illegal gathering, as well as promoting and attending the gathering.
  • Throughout the pandemic, the brothers have held large, maskless gatherings and have denied health officials entry to the church, which is located in the southeast neighbourhood of Dover. (cbc.ca, 8 May 2021)

9) Charges laid following gathering at Church of God in Aylmer, Ont.

  • The Aylmer Police Service has laid charges after an investigation into a reported gathering at the Church of God Restoration Tuesday evening.
  • Police said they received a public complaint about a large gathering at the church. 
  • According to police none of the individuals were practicing social distancing or wearing masks.
  • The Church of God Restoration has been the centre of several controversial gatherings and services since the start of the pandemic. (beta.ctvnews.ca, 21 April 2021)

10) The Christian right is racking up huge victories in the Supreme Court, thanks to Amy Coney Barrett 

  • On Friday night, the Court led by Justice Amy Coney Barrett, ruled that people of faith who want to gather in relatively large groups in someone’s home must be allowed to do so, despite the fact that California limits all in-home gatherings to just three households.
  • The Court’s new majority has accomplished what amounts to a revolution in its approach to religion and the law, entirely through cases brought by churches and other religious actors seeking exemptions from public health rules intended to slow the spread of Covid-19. (vox.com, 12 April 2021)

11) 46 students of Jesuit business school test Covid positive 

  • As many as 46 students of XLRI’s Jamshedpur campus have tested positive for Covid-19.
  • The students who tested positive have been isolated and quarantined within the campus and kept under observation by the resident doctor.
  • “We have been strictly adhering to all the Covid-19 directives and guidelines of the state government and complying with all the necessary precautionary steps and protective measures. To contain the infection, contact tracing has been initiated, and all contact staff members and students will undergo a mandatory RT-PCR test. All the campus facilities, including the library, the computer lab, will remain closed until further notice, “said a spokesperson of XLRI. (mattersindia.com, 11 April 2021) 

12) South Korea orders closure of nightclubs, karaoke bars amid concern over 4th COVID-19 wave

  1. South Korea will reimpose a ban on nightclubs, karaoke bars and other nightly entertainment facilities, authorities said.
  2. “Signs of a fourth wave of epidemics that we had so striven to head off are drawing nearer and becoming stronger,” Mr. Chung told a daily meeting on the pandemic.(thehindu.com, 9 April 2021)

13) Supreme Court rules against California’s Covid-19 restrictions on grounds of religious liberty 

  • The Supreme Court blocked California’s Covid-19 restrictions on religious gatherings in private homes in a late-night order on Friday, saying that the law infringes on constitutionally protected religious rights in a 5-4 vote.
  • The decision, in which Chief Justice John Roberts voted with the three dissenting liberal justices, marks the fifth time that the Supreme Court has sided with religious adherents protesting California’s laws designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus. And it underscores how Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s replacement of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in November has tilted the high court toward overruling state Covid-19 restrictions on religious services.(vox.com, 10 April 2021)

14) Police visit, leave Calgary church that was allegedly not following COVID-19 restriction

  • In a video posted online by pastor Artur Pawlowski, authorities are seen leaving the church after the pastor yells at them to get out, calling them “Nazis” and “Gestapo.”
  • “The organizer of the gathering was uncooperative with the health inspector and repeatedly raised his voice asking all parties to leave the premises. (globalnews.ca, 4 April 2021)

15) Priests and nuns die in Tanzania with COVID-19 symptoms, says Church

  • More than 25 priests and 60 nuns and two elders of the laity have died in Tanzania in the last two months after having coronavirus symptoms, the country’s Catholic Church said on Wednesday
  • The church has warned people to take COVID-19 precautions in the East African country as the government only last week finally acknowledged a coronavirus problem
  • “People are not tested. That’s a big challenge. The church has about 500 health centres across the country but we are not allowed to test and we don’t have the equipment to do so,” he said. (africanews.com, 3 March 2021) 

16) Bhubaneswar’s Jesuit business school sealed

  • The campus of Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar (XIMB), was on March 22 sealed after the outbreak of at least 23 positive cases in the past 24 hours
  • A team from Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) rushed to the XIMB and sanitized the entire campus and sealed the premises until further orders. Around 700 students, faculty and staff are now residing on the institute campus and the Municipal Commissioner assured the supply of essentials and medical requirements if required.
  • After the state government allowed reopening of higher education institutions in February, XIMB too resumed classes but failed to test the students for Covid19, which was mandatory by the State Government before physical classes resumed. (mattersindia.com, 22 March 2021

Church congregations during Covid-19

17) COVID-19 Claims Two Precious Lives Of Sisters Of Bethany Convent, Mangaluru

  1. Sources reveal that at least 205 priests and 210 nuns have died of COVID-19 in India, mostly in April and May.
  2. The death toll involves 98 dioceses and 106 religious congregations. Despite the risk of infection, dioceses and religious congregations have been reaching out to ease the suffering of the people hit by the pandemic. (mangalerean.com, 7 June 2021) 

18) Churches asked not to flout lockdown rules

  1. Church leaders have expressed dismay over some churches in Kohima and elsewhere in the state flouting covid-19 norms and congregating at a time when the state along with the rest of the country are facing an unprecedented second wave of covid-19.
  2. Expressing pain over some church leaders who passed away with Covid complications recently, Rev Dr.AstiDolie reminded to observe social distancing and avoid mass gathering as the situation is not favourable for holding services.
  3. One citizen wondered why many churches were allowed to conduct services while the rest remain closed.  
  4. Dr E Phyantsuthung, senior specialist of Naga Hospital Authority Kohima has reminded church leaders not to come to pray for the departed soul, reasoning that most of the church leaders are elderly and they don’t want to expose them to vulnerable places.  (eastmirrornagaland.com, 30 May 2021)

19) Kerala church retreat: Two more priests die, 5 others critical

  1. Two more priests who had attended the five-day annual retreat event, organised in April by the Church of South India (CSI) in violation of Covid containment guidelines, died on Wednesday. The condition of five other priests was said to be critical, said a group of reformist members of the church. They also claimed that the deaths were caused by Covid-19, but an official confirmation was not available.
  2. Father C Binokumar (39) and Father Y Devaprasad (59) died at CSI Medical College Hospital in Karakonam, where five of their colleagues were currently on ventilator support.
  3. Two priests died due to Covid-19 in May first week and several others tested positive, blowing the lid off what was described as a “super spreader” event, organised at Munnar, a hill station in Kerala’s Idukki district, between April 13 and 17.
  4. The CSI retreat is the latest religious event to hit the headlines for recklessness during the pandemic. Last year, at the beginning of the first wave, a congregation of the Tablighi Jamaat in New Delhi was blamed for causing a spike in cases. Similarly, last month’s congregation at Haridwar Kumbh Mela is also believed to have contributed to the rapid spread of the second wave. (hindustantimes.com, 23 May 2021) 

    20) The Church of Scotland assembles again in Covid

  1. It is perhaps a strange admission but I am quite a fan of the Kirk’s annual gathering.
  2. Over the years, I have been at more general assemblies than many ministers.
  3. I suppose my attraction to it goes back to the days before the establishment of the Scottish Parliament in 1999, when the assembly was a key date in the diary for many would-be political reporters like me.
  4. Back then, it was talked of as the nearest thing Scotland had to a parliament.
  5. The Assembly Hall on the Mound in Edinburgh was the venue every May for a week of intensive deliberation of church matters and issues of the day.

(bbc.com, 22 May 2021) News Link

         21) Not just 168 priests, 143 nuns too died of Covid across India

  1. Three days after TNIE reported that 168 Catholic priests have died of Covid during the two waves of the pandemic so far, it is learnt that 143 nuns have also lost their lives in the second virulent phase alone. 30 of these nuns were Malayalis associated either with schools or hospitals in Kerala and other states. It is also learnt that the majority of these nuns had initially tried self-medication, but by the time their situation aggravated, it was too late.
  2. “Twelve nuns belonging to a single congregation, Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, who have been doing yeoman service among the community, especially among leprosy patients, are no more. There were three major factors noticed among these nuns: they were asymptomatic, elderly or had comorbidities. Death is a reality we take for granted. We have never felt, seen or heard of such a large-scale death as we do now as Covid spreads,” Fr Suresh told TNIE. (newindianexpress.com, 21 May 2021)

22) Indian Church loses some 160 priests to Covid-19

  1. Some 160 Catholic priests have died from Covid-19 in the past 5 weeks, or an average of 4 each day. The alarming news comes from Capuchin priest Father Suresh Mathew, editor of the Church-run Indian Currents magazine.  He has compiled a list of at least 160 diocesan and religious priests, who died between April 10 to May 17.    (vaticannews.va, 17 May 2021) 

        23) Vincentian provincial dies of Covid-19

  1. Father Prakash Tirkey, Northern Indian provincial of the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians), died of Covid-19 on May 7. He was 57.
  2. He took over as the provincial March 8, 2019, from Father Bijay Kumar Nayak presently, who is currently the secretary of the Office of the Dalit and Backward Classes under the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.

(mattersindia.com, 12 May 2021) 

24) Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council asks Catholic hospitals to impose only ‘minimum fees’ for COVID-19 treatment

  1. The bishops also called on the church authorities to coordinate the activities against COVID-19 at all levels.
  2. The Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council has directed all Catholic hospitals in the State to impose only the “minimum fees” for COVID-19 treatment.
  3. In a circular issued here on Monday, the Bishops’ Council, the apex body of the Catholic hierarchy, as it appealed to the church members to pray for God’s help in these trying times, directed the hospitals to provide tele-medicine consultation facilities and to provide the respective phone numbers to the public. The bishops also called on the church authorities to coordinate the activities against COVID-19 at all levels. (thehindu.com, 10 May 2021) 

25) Retreat meet: cases against resort owners

  1. Cases were filed against the managements of two resorts which provided accommodation to priests to attend a retreat meeting in Munnar from April 13 to 17, violating the COVID-19 protocol,
  2. Cases were filed against the managements of the resorts as they failed to inform the police or district administration regarding the violations and accommodated a large number of persons resulting in crowding. (thehindu.com, 9 May 2021) News Link

26) COVID-19 positivity rate rose after 5-day church camp: Nagaland govt

  1. According to the Nagaland health department, the COVID-19 positivity rate in the Mon district increased to 13% in the past week after a five-day church revival camp in the district.
  2. The department informed that a church revival camp held from April 21-25 turned into a super spreader event in Mon district after 45 persons out of 69 tested positive for COVID-19 with a 65% positivity rate. (eastmojo.com, 9 May 2021) News Link

27) Sub collector’s report finds gross violation at CSI meeting

  1. Devikulam Sub-collector S. Prem Krishnan on Friday submitted a report to the District Collector that said there was gross violation of COVID-19 protocol at the retreat meeting held by the CSI (Church of South India) for priests and deacons in Munnar from April 13 to 17.
  2. Friday’s report was prepared based on corroborative proof, including photographs and statements of those who had witnessed the retreat meeting.
  3. It was said nearly 480 priests and deacons participated and the condition of many who had been infected with the virus was serious. (thehindu.com, 8 May 2021) 

28) Priests exposed to virus, Malayali bishop on ventilator in Gurugram

  1. Gurgaon-Delhi bishop of Syro-Malankara Church Jacob Mar Barnabas was given ventilator support after his health condition deteriorated on Thursday morning in the Haryana district bordering the national capital. Bishop Barnabas, who is from Kerala, has been on treatment for Covid for the last one week. 
  2. As many as nine priests died of Covid in the state in the last ten days due to the nature of their work in the state and public appearances. Of them, six were from Syro-Malabar Church alone, one from CSI HMS Church and two from CSI South Kerala diocese. Not only in Kerala, several priests lost their lives after getting infected while rendering their services in different parts of the country. On Thursday, one more Christian priest on ventilator support died in the second wave of the pandemic in the country. (thenewindianexpress.com, 7 May 2021) 

29) Munnar retreat: Pinarayi vows action against CSI diocese, faithful to approach HC

  1. Chief Minister PinarayiVijayan on Wednesday promised action over the holding of a Covid super spreader event by the CSI South Kerala diocese in Munnar last month.
  2. “It is an unfortunate situation. It took place in April. The government has issued repeated warnings against gatherings. This incident should not have happened. Further action will be initiated after collecting all details,” said Pinarayi.
  3. A group of believers decided to approach the High Court seeking action against the CSI diocese for its gross neglect of Covid protocol.   (newindianexpress.com, 6 May 2021) 

30) COVID-19 outbreak at Salem’s People’s Church sickens at least 74 people

  1. At least 74 people associated with People’s Church in Salem have contracted COVID-19, according to the Oregon Health Authority.
  2. The church, located at 4500 Lancaster Drive NE, has continued to hold in-person services and events, its website and Facebook page indicate.That includes three in-person Mother’s Day services scheduled for Sunday.
  3. Officials at People’s Church declined to immediately respond to questions.In May 2020, People’s Church joined nine other Oregon churches in a legal effort to overturn Gov. Kate Brown’s COVID-19 restrictions. The complaint, filed by California-based Pacific Justice Institute, argued that restrictions on churches violate constitutional protections for religious freedom. (statesmanjournol.com, 6 May 2021)

31) 100 CSI priests’ contract Covid after Munnar retreat, two die

  1. More than 100 Church of South India (CSI) priests were reportedly infected with Covid-19 after they attended the annual retreat at Munnar last month. Sadly, two of the priests have died and five others are said to be in a serious condition. Among the infected is CSI moderator and bishop of South Kerala diocese Rev A DharmarajRasalam, who is in home quarantine. Sources in the church said the pandemic protocol was violated during the retreat.
  2. The annual retreat, a conference of priests and community members, was held from April 13 to 17 at CSI Christ Church in Munnar. As many as 350 priests from various churches attended the meet. Sources said the retreat was held despite requests to postpone the event, and the priests were warned of disciplinary action if they failed to attend. The priests had travelled to Munnar from LMS Church in Thiruvananthapuram in a bus, sources said.

     (newindianexpress.com, 5 May 2021) 

32) Catholic churches in Kolkata shut till May 17

Key Points:

  1. All 65 Catholic churches in the city and suburbs run by the archdiocese of Kolkata shut their gates from Monday due to the second wave of the pandemic.

(timesofindia.indiatimes.com, 4 May 2021) 

33) Saskatoon church continues services despite previous fine for breaking gathering limit

  • The congregation at Saskatoon’s Fellowship Baptist Church held a service on Sunday, and there are questions as to whether they violated public health orders designed to stop the spread of COVID-19.
  • On Sunday, Global News saw 34 people either enter the building or on the church’s livestream.
  • Current provincial health guidelines restrict religious ceremonies to 30 people, not including clergy or staff.The Saskatchewan Government fined the church $14,000 on March 11 for previously exceeding gathering limits.

(globalnews.ca, 2 May 2021) 

34) Iconic Italian missionary dies of Covid-19 in Pakistan

  1. Catholics in Pakistan are mourning Italian Dominican priest Aldino Amato, a revered development pioneer and educationist who served Pakistan for almost six decades.

(ucanews.com, 3 May 2021) News Link

35) Local COVID ‘Superspreader Event’ Linked to Eureka Pentecostal Church

  1. Humboldt County’s spike in COVID-19 cases this week has been traced in part to the Eureka the Pentecostal Church. 
  2. On Thursday, the Humboldt County Joint Information Center said a majority of the 110 cases reported so far this week are part of a single outbreak associated with one or more super spreader events and identified Eureka the Pentecostal Church as the source of the outbreak.

      (lostcoastlostcoastoutpost.com, 23 April 2021)News Link

36) COVID-19 positivity rate rose after 5-day church camp: Nagaland govt

  1. According to the Nagaland health department, the COVID-19 positivity rate in the Mon district increased to 13% in the past week after a five-day church revival camp in the district.
  2. The department informed that a church revival camp held from April 21-25 turned into a super spreader event in Mon district after 45 persons out of 69 tested positive for COVID-19 with a 65% positivity rate.

(eastmojo.com, 9 May 2021) News Link

37) At Least 55 Cases in COVID-19 Outbreak at Maui Church

  1. A coronavirus outbreak tied to a Maui church and its congregation has resulted in at least 55 positive cases and prompted the state Department of Health to warn the general public of the “imminent risk.”
  2. The outbreak has affected people from ages 10 to 77 and the cluster has nearly doubled in the past 10 days, the department said. The virus also spread from the church to a school and a workplace.

(huwaiipublicradio.org, 1 April 2021)

38) Congregation kills clergy in Italy

  1. Parishes are clustered in Italy’s north, the virus’s target from the day the Catholic country’s first death was reported 
  2. Priests are known to congregate among themselves in close quarters, creating the perfect conditions for contagion.
  3. 10 clergymen in Italy’s Bergamo diocese died due to COVID infection
  4. The deaths, whether of priests or members of their communities, are “so numerous that it is difficult to count”, the paper wrote.

(thehindu.com, 20 March 2020) News Link

      39) France must review COVID-19 crowd limits on church attendance

  1. France’s State Council, the country’s highest court, on Sunday ordered the government to review a law limiting the number of people in churches during religious services to 30. The Council said in a statement that the measure was not proportionate to coronavirus infection risks.
  2. Catholic organisations have challenged the limit, arguing that churches and cathedrals are much more spacious than retail outlets, where the limit is one person per eight square metres.
  3. “The claimants are right in saying that the measure is disproportionate in light of protecting the public’s health … thus it is a serious and illegal infringement on the freedom of worship,” the council said

(reuters.com, 29 November 2020)  (News Link)

40) Nigel Farage: ‘The Church has let the country down worse than politicians’

  1. Nigel Farage has hit out at the Church of England and accused it of poor leadership. 
  2. In a YouTube video, Farage first slams Prime Minister Boris Johnson for self-isolating after being in contact with an MP who later tested positive for Covid-19. 
  3. He insinuated the timing of his isolation was bad with Brexit talks coming to a conclusion

(premierchristian.news, 28 November 2020) (News Link)

41) This is discrimination:’ pastor in TN after house church shutdown

  1. A house church in Tamil Nadu was forced to close after local officials demanded the church pastor to not hold any worship services.According to pastor John Francis, the Grace Prayer House in Karuvallur, Coimbatore remains closed since November 12. It is a church affiliated with the Indian Pentecostal Church and hosted more than 40 Christians members who regularly attended worship gatherings.The Mandal Revenue Officer had issued a notice that clearly instructed pastor Francis to shut down the church.
  2. Pastor Francis told International Christian Concern (ICC) that the Hindu radicals influenced the local leaders to pass such an order.“This is discrimination,” pastor Francis told ICC. “We don’t have freedom to worship or practice our faith. The police, village panchayat, and revenue department are all working hand in glove with the Hindu radicals.”

(christiantoday.co.in, 03 December 2020) (News Link)

        42) Pandemic forces nun to cancel Teresa anniversary event 

Key Points: 

  1. Missionaries of Charity (MC) nuns cancelled the usual birth anniversary celebrations of their founder St. Mother Teresa this year after some nuns tested positive for Covid-19.
  2. The saintly nun’s 110th birth anniversary passed off without the customary celebrations on Aug. 26 at the congregation’s headquarters, 22 years after her death.
  3. After nine nuns tested positive for Covid-19 in their headquarters, the nuns canceled the usual nine-day novena prayer, concelebrated Mass and children’s singing and dancing as part of the anniversary.

(ucanews.com, 27 August 2020)  News Link

43) Another Nun died of COVID 

  1. Senior nun Sister Florence Kurisinkal, 73 died on July 21 at COVID Hospital, Guwahati.
  2. Sister Kurisinkal is the second nun to die of COVID-19 from the same congregation
  3. Sister Michael Serrao, 82 died on July 16 at St. Joseph’s Convent, Dibrugarh, Assam.
  4. Earlier, On July 5 12 Catholic nuns who were working in St VincenzaGerosa (VG)Hospital  were tested positive.  .

(mattersindia.com, 22 July 2020) News Link

44)South Korean prosecutors question Church Leader 

  1. South Korean prosecutors on Friday questioned Lee Man-hee, the 88-year-old chairman of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, the leader of a secretive church sect over accusations that they hampered the government”s anti-virus response after thousands of COVID-19 infections were detected among its members in February and March.
  2. More than 5,200 of South Korea”s 13,672 COVID-19 cases have been linked to the church so far. The church”s branch in the southern city of Daegu emerged as the biggest cluster after infections spiked in late February.
  3. The 60 new cases reported Friday included 39 linked to people arriving from abroad. The country is enforcing two-week quarantines on all people arriving from abroad.

(outlook.com, 17 July 2020) News Link

        45) Calvary Chapel Church super spreaders

  1. ‘I accept full responsibility’ says Calvary Chapel Pastor. UNIVERSAL CITY Texas — Calvary Chapel San Antonio’s Pastor said he is heartbroken after a COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in dozens of positive cases.
  2. “Immediately we shut down the church to get everyone through a quarantine period,” said Ron Arbaugh, Pastor of Calvary Chapel.
  3. Arbaugh said if he could go back to when they reopened he would do things a bit differently. At least 50 others have tested positive for the virus, including Pastor Arbaugh and his wife although he said they have both since recovered. He said the majority have reported mild symptoms and he has been in constant communication with people within the church.

(News4sanantonia.com, 5 July 2020)News Link

    46) Florida teen passed away of coronavirus after attending a Church event

    1. Carsyn Leigh Davis, a teenager with the history of cancer and autoimmune disorders died of coronavirus on June 23, two days after turning 17.
    2. The Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner issued a report saying that Carsyn attended a church event on June 10 with nearly 100 other children where she did not wear a mask, and where social distancing rules weren’t enforced.
    3. Rebekah Jones, a data scientist who was fired for her unwillness to falsify Florida’s COVID-19 statistics, shared the church event on Twitter and accused the girl’s mother of being “reckless” and “intentionally” exposing her “immuno-compromised” daughter to COVID-19. 

(businessinsider.in, July 2020)   News Link

     47) Filipino missionary priests test positive for coronavirus

  • The Philippine health department confirmed on July 7 that two priestsfrom Manila tested positive for coronavirus when swabbed on arrival at Iloilo City airport in the Western Visayas region. 
  • Jaro Archdiocese spokesman Father Angelo Colada said the priests were members of a religious congregation assigned to communities in Iloilo City for “mission purposes.”
  • “The missionary-priests are originally from Manila. They are here [Iloilo] to help the local Church in our apostolate and mission for the poor. Religious congregations are welcome to help in the diocese’s mission for the underprivileged,” Father Colada said in a statement.
  • Father Colada said the priests could have contracted the virus during their previous assignments and mission areas in Manila. “The virus is spreading quickly. Some may even have it without showing symptoms. They [two priests] told me that they probably got the virus from their previous apostolate areas in Manila,” Father Colada added.

(ucanews.com, 8 July 2020)   

48) Msgr. JiaZhiguo: The Church must be open to everyone, even those under the age of 18by Wang Zhicheng

  1. The blackmail of the Jinzhou authorities: you can reopen the churches – after the pandemic – if you ban entry to minors. Mgr. JiaZhiguo, 83, has been a bishop since 1980 and is responsible for a community of over 150,000 faithful, with a hundred priests and as many nuns. The government wants to take over the orphanage for disabled children housed in the bishop’s house. Benedict XVI sends a greeting.
  2.  “The Church must be open to everyone, even to minors under the age of 18”: This is the response of Msgr. Giulio JiaZhiguo, underground bishop of Zhengding (Hebei, about 300 km southwest of Beijing), to the Jinzhou authorities’ proposal to allow him to resume church activities after the coronavirus quarantine, under the condition he prohibit entry for young people under 18 years of age..
  3. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, churches throughout China have been closed since late January. In early June, the authorities gave permission to open them despite different security conditions.
  4. Now in an attempt to push the bishop to sign the recognition document, Jinzhou authorities have threatened to take over the children’s home, because neither he nor the nuns can serve disabled children without being registered. The government has already moved older children to another location, leaving the younger ones in the bishop’s house. The authorities explained that they want to “buy” the orphanage, although they are not willing to pay any money.

(asianews.it, 10 July 2020) 

  49) China churches ordered to praise Xi Jinping’s handling of coronavirus before reopening

    1. Under Chinese Communist Party (CCP) instruction, state-run churches in China say they were required to raise the national flag, sing the anthem, and praise Xi Jinping’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic in order to reopen, a watchdog reports.
    2. The Lishiting Catholic Church in the Shunhe district of Kaifeng reopened on June 14 with around 20 people as a priest led the required ceremony supervised by government officials, according to Bitter Winter.
  • “We solemnly raise the national flag here today after the epidemic, witnessing the fruits of all people working together under the leadership of Xi Jinping who directs the government and the Party,” the priest allegedly said.
    1. On the same day in the same district, a member of the Gangxi Christian Church said its leaders were also instructed to laud Chinese leaders for their handling of the pandemic.
  • “The church finally reopened after five months, 147 days, or 21 Sundays, but instead of singing hymns to praise God, the government required us to raise the national flag and sing the national anthem, praising Xi Jinping’s ‘victory in fighting the epidemic,'” a congregant shared.
  • The congregant added, “This is completely contrary to our belief.”

(foxnews.com, 7 July 2020)   

50) Pastor conducts prayer at homes inside containment zone in Idukki, tests COVID-19 positive

  1. In A pastor at Peerumedu conducted prayer at homes inside a coronavirus containment zone here in Idukki district, has tested positive for COVID-19.  
  2. Following complaints from local residents, police and health workers nabbed the pastor who is a Pattumala native. 
  3. The pastor was taken to a quarantine centre at Peerumedu and was fined Rs 25,000 for violating COVID regulations. He tested COVID positive in the test conducted afterwards.
  4. Now, all the people who were in contact with the pastor, including residents of the houses he visited, will have to undergo quarantine. The Health department is preparing a list of the people who were in contact with the pastor. Officials are planning to implement more regulations in the area.   

                           (English.mathrubhumi.com, 30 July 2020)  

    51)South Korean prosecutors question Church Leader

  1. South Korean prosecutors on Friday questioned Lee Man-hee, the 88-year-old chairman of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, the leader of a secretive church sect over accusations that they hampered the government”s anti-virus response after thousands of COVID-19 infections were detected among its members in February and March.
  2. More than 5,200 of South Korea”s 13,672 COVID-19 cases have been linked to the church so far. The church”s branch in the southern city of Daegu emerged as the biggest cluster after infections spiked in late February.
  3. The 60 new cases reported Friday included 39 linked to people arriving from abroad. The country is enforcing two-week quarantines on all people arriving from abroad.

(outlook.com, 17 July 2020) News Link

52) Pandemic forces nun to cancel Teresa anniversary event 

  1. Missionaries of Charity (MC) nuns cancelled the usual birth anniversary celebrations of their founder St. Mother Teresa this year after some nuns tested positive for Covid-19.
  2. The saintly nun’s 110th birth anniversary passed off without the customary celebrations on Aug. 26 at the congregation’s headquarters, 22 years after her death.
  3. After nine nuns tested positive for Covid-19 in their headquarters, the nuns canceled the usual nine-day novena prayer, concelebrated Mass and children’s singing and dancing as part of the anniversary.

(ucanews.com, 27 August 2020)  News Link

    53) 3 more dead from COVID-19 outbreak linked to church  

  1. Officials say three more people have died of coronavirus-complications linked to convocation events at a church.
  2. The Charlotte Observer reports 12 people have died from the outbreak linked to the gathering last month at the United House of Prayer for All People.

(wwaytv3.com, 20 November 2020)  (News Link)

54) Christian leaders challenge mandatory church closures during England’s second lockdown 

  1. A group of Christian leaders is challenging orders to shut down churches in England and Wales, saying the move violates religious freedom protections and has not been shown to be necessary to fight the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
  2. More than 120 church leaders from various Christian denominations are challenging orders to shut down churches in England and Wales. The religious leaders say the government has not produced evidence justifying the strict treatment of worship services.
  3. The evangelical group Christian Concern’s Christian Legal Centre is backing the church leaders in their legal challenge to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. 

(catholicnewsagency.com, 18 November 2020) 

55) French Catholics hold protests over ban on church services during lockdown 

  1. French Catholics protesting a ban on large church gatherings during a month-long partial lockdown held street prayers in several cities over the weekend.
  2. On Saturday, some 250-faithful gathered outside Rennes cathedral, where they also prayed. Similar protests were also held in the north-eastern city of Strasbourg and Nantes in the west. 
  3. Under France’s latest measures to fight the virus, churches can celebrate funerals and weddings, with a maximum of 30 people and six people present respectively, but larger gatherings are banned.
  4. France’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, on Saturday rejected an appeal by Catholic groups against the ban.

(thelocal.fr, 16 November 2020) 

56) Indonesian archbishop, several priests catch Covid-1900 

 

  • Capuchin Archbishop KorneliusSipayung of Medan and the four priests, including hisvicar general, Father Michael Manurung, all tested positive last week, archdiocesan spokesman Father Benyamin A.C. Purba said in a video message.
  • The archbishop reportedly became the highest-ranking churchman in Indonesia to have contracted the virus.  

(ucanews.com, 20 July 2020) 

57) Christ Church service draws 1000 people in Moscow

  • About 1,000 people — most or all of whom did not wear face masks nor adhere to social distancing guidelines — attended a Christ Church joint service Sunday morning at the Logos School Fieldhouse in Moscow. 
  • Christ Church Pastor Doug Wilson, who preached at the service and provided the 1,000-person estimate, said he considered the gathering safe. “We wouldn’t be there if we didn’t think it was safe,” Wilson said.
  • Wilson said the joint service was not an act of defiance, and Christ Church has held combined services in the past. “Our church is growing and we’re looking at the prospect of planting churches,” Wilson said. “And we wanted to remain unified as we did so, and a periodic joint meeting is a good way to keep the unity.” “The one thing we did not do is ask everybody to wear masks,” Wilson said.

(dnews.com, 1 July 2020)   

58) Shincheonji Church in Daegu – highest cluster of viral infection 

  1. Centres chief JeongEun-kyeong told reporters that 309 of the country’s 556 patients have been confirmed to have links to a branch of the local Shincheonji church in Daegu, which has become the biggest cluster of viral infections.

(bridgewatermercury.co.uk, 23 February 2020

59) Special Report: Five days of worship that set a virus time bomb in France

  1. The prayer meeting kicked off the biggest cluster of COVID-19 in France – one of northern Europe’s hardest-hit countries – to date, local government said. Around 2,500 confirmed cases have been linked to it.
  2. Worshippers at the church have unwittingly taken the disease caused by the virus home to the West African state of Burkina Faso, to the Mediterranean island of Corsica, to Guyana in Latin America, to Switzerland, to a French nuclear power plant, and into the workshops of one of Europe’s biggest automakers.
  3. Church officials told Reuters that 17 members of the congregation have since died of complications linked to the disease.

(reuters.com, 30 March 2020)

60) Church -Superspreader – Shincheonji Church – South Korea, Lee Man Hee – quasi Christian cult

  • When Churches Are Superspreaders
  1. A well-documented case of contagion, involving a choir rehearsal on March 10 at a Presbyterian church in Mount Vernon, Washington, helps explain why indoor gatherings in churches present a high risk even with social distancing. 
  2. The most dramatic example of a church acting as a superspreader comes from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in Daegu, South Korea 

(prospect.org, 27 May 2020) 

      61) Kerala church retreat: Two more priests die, 5 others critical

  1. Two priests died due to Covid-19 in May first week and several others tested positive, blowing the lid off what was described as a “super spreader” event, organised at Munnar, a hill station in Kerala’s Idukki district.
  2. Two more priests who had attended the five-day annual retreat event, organised in April by the Church of South India (CSI) in violation of Covid containment guidelines, died on Wednesday. The condition of five other priests was said to be critical, said a group of reformist members of the church. They also claimed that the deaths were caused by Covid-19, but an official confirmation was not available.

    (hindustantimes.com, 13 May 2021)

     62) Secretive church at center of South Korea’s explosive coronavirus outbreak

  1. Shincheonji is in the biggest crisis in its 36-year history, as hundreds of members have tested positive for the virus, SARS-CoV-2. All of its 210,000 known followers are being tested amid unprecedented scrutiny from authorities and the public.

(reuters.com, 27 February 2020) 

63) ‘God Is Bigger Than Government’: Mississippi Gov. Says the Government Should Not Restrict Religious Gatherings

  1. “With all the things we can be thankful for in this season, I am especially grateful for our God-given religious liberty,” Reeves wrote, according to The Christian Post. “That right was upheld by the United States Supreme Court last week—blocking the New York restriction on worship gatherings.”
  2. “Throughout this pandemic, Mississippi has never restricted religious gathering and worship,” he continued. “We made that clear in our court filings. God is bigger than government. The right to freely practice your faith must never be infringed.”
  3. Last Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily blocked New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s restrictions on houses of worship in favor of a Catholic diocese and an Orthodox Jewish group.
  4. As Christian Headlines previously reported, it was the first time the nation’s highest court had sided with churches or synagogues during the pandemic.

(christianheadlines.com, 03 December 2020) (News Link)

64) NIH Director Tells Churches To Do The “Altruistic, Loving Thing” And Stay Closed

  1. With COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths at record levels, a top public health official called on religious leaders to keep their worship spaces closed, despite rising protests from some church leaders.
  2. “The virus is having a wonderful time right now, taking advantage of circumstances where people have let their guard go down,” said Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health. 
  3. “Churches gathering in person is a source of considerable concern and has certainly been an instance where super spreading has happened and could happen again.”

(npr.org, 03 December 2020) (News Link)

From flouting Covid restrictions to refusing to get vaccinated, evangelists have proved that they are against science and technology. However Hindus who have been following the government guidelines are being demonised and their harmless beliefs are mocked. The Kumbh was termed as a super spreader and an isolated incident of some people smearing cow dung blown out of proportion. However churches flouting rules and Christian preachers spreading vaccine hesitancy rarely made the headlines.

(Featured Image Source: Christian Today)


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