Scholar's Opinion: Is Coronavirus Outbreak in Shijiazhuang Related to Religion?

Shijiazhuang Gospel Church, Hebei
Shijiazhuang Gospel Church, Hebei
By Li QingJanuary 14th, 2021

Recently, the coronavirus pandemic situation has rebounded in Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province. Local authorities at all levels are enhancing measures to prevent another wave and making every effort to fight against it. However, a small number of people with ulterior motives disregarded facts, made up stories, and spread groundless rumors. The story makers associated the spread of the pandemic with religion, causing great confusion in society. Is the pandemic really related to religion? Let’s look at the facts:

1. Religion within the system - Since the outbreak of the pandemic at the beginning of 2020, there haven’t been large-scale religious gatherings in China, and religious activities in all legal religious sites have stopped. These religious sites are in the hands of officially recognized "patriotic religious groups" and are completely subject to the management of the government. There are no religious activities without government approval in these religious sites. Although outbreaks of different degrees have occurred in many places in China, there is no case where the rate of virus infection among religious believers is significantly higher than that among local non-religious believers.

2. Religion outside the system - Religion outside the system has no open and legal places for activities - no conditions for holding religious activities in public, and it is impossible to maintain regular activities under the strict management and control of the government.

3. Foreign religion - Foreign religious groups completely stopped their contacts with Chinese official religious groups since the outbreak last year, so there hasn’t been any possibility that a large number of foreign religious clergy would come to China for religious activities. During this period, if some people say that foreign religious organizations may have secretly sent personnel to China to carry out illegal religious activities, regardless of the pandemic, thus bringing and spreading the virus from abroad to China through religious activities, then it can only be said that this is an unfounded absurd fantasy. It is a slander on the work of China's national security organs, customs, border inspection, and pandemic prevention departments. Up to now, there hasn’t been a single such case in China.

4. In-bound visitors - Different countries have different pandemic prevention policies, but foreign religions are not the factors that affect the pandemic situation in China. Although a small number of foreigners entered the country during the pandemic, all of them must undergo strict inspection and quarantine. It is impossible for any airport that accepts the landing of an inbound plane to let people who get off the plane directly enter a local place without quarantine.

5. Anti-pandemic struggle - After the outbreak in early 2020, the majority of religious believers throughout the country actively donated money and materials, organized volunteers to support and participated in the anti-pandemic struggle. Their dedication and love have been highly praised by the people in the affected areas. A large number of facts show that Chinese religious believers have contributed to the fight against the pandemic through practical actions at the most critical moment and the moment when the masses needed it most.

The performance of religious believers in the struggle against COVID may be ignored and not made public, but negative rumours against the group should not be made out of nothing, discrediting religions, fabricating and spreading ideas that "religion led to the spread of the pandemic".

January 9, 2021

- Translated by Charlie Li

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