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Religious ardour survives along with coronavirus

December 7th, 2020 11:40 AM

By Southern Star Team

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Minister muses that the difference in transmission of the disease between nationalist and unionist areas was around six to one

NOBODY in their right mind takes seriously the idea that members of a Christian Church would condone the spread of disease, ailments and maladies for religious purposes.

Yet, historians like to tell us that, at a certain point in history when infectious diseases, such as the Black Death, were wiping out much of Europe’s population, major religious movements emerged. Over time, of course, the religious fervour disappeared but the infectious diseases remained.

Which, of course, is not at all what happened in the North of Ireland. In that weird neck of the woods, religious ardour survived intact and so too did the infectious disease – now called coronavirus.

What’s more, there’s an unsettling suspicion that the biological, social, economic, political and religious consequences of the Black Death continue to shape the North’s response to coronavirus – such as the advice to reduce contact with friends (in some cases, family) and, where applicable, to shut oneself off from the real world.

Worse still, the perception is that coronavirus triggers instability, confusion and disorder – and it is not confined to the North’s archaic political system.

For instance, an element among our Unionist neighbours seems to be well aware of the mysterious connections between coronavirus and religion, as in the case of the eminent DUP agriculture minister, Edwin Poots (a member of the Free Presbyterian Church and an earth creationist who rejects the theory of evolution). He recently mused that it seemed somewhat odd that the difference in transmission of the disease between nationalist and unionist areas was around six to one.

‘Sectarian claptrap’

Needless to say, Sinn Féin branded his comments as ‘sectarian claptrap’ and called on him to apologise, which he refused to do.

Instead he announced that he ‘cherished’ his Catholic friends and neighbours and would never intentionally use words that could cause offence. At no time, he said, did he attribute the spread of Covid-19 to religion. Well done, sir!

Sinn Féin should cop itself on with its ‘sectarian claptrap’ stuff!

But, at the same time, we should not forget that references to infectious illnesses were often used as verbal insults in the North. For instance, during the pogroms, words such as ‘diseased,’ ‘infested’ and ‘scum’ were painted on the houses of forcibly-evicted Catholics.

From Sinn Féin’s point of view, it seemed that Mr Poots was trying to distort and twist comments that he made in reference to the spread of Covid-19 when, in fact, he ‘cherished’ his Catholic friends and neighbours. Yes, ‘cherished.’

Noisy scenes

This was acknowledged by his boss, First Minister Arlene Foster, who praised Mr Poots for his candour. What’s more, she was quite sure that the virus did not attack people on the basis of their religious affiliations – a sentiment that was most reassuring to Northern Catholics.

Yet, sad to say, the North is now one of the world’s worst-affected areas for Covid-19 and there is considerable speculation that Stormont may not be aware of the proper way of dealing with the pandemic.

In the middle of October, the North’s pubs and restaurants closed for four weeks, but last week noisy scenes were witnessed at Stormont when the DUP blocked a proposal for a further two-week lockdown (Medical and science officers had recommended a four to six-week lockdown, with a further lockdown in the new year – a proposal that appalled the DUP).

Stormont’s Health Minister, Robin Swann (Ulster Unionist Party), supported the idea of a two-week extension to the lockdown, warning that Covid-19 cases would spike if the extension was not approved. Indeed, the North’s Covid-19 death toll soon passed the 800-mark and in excess of 44,000 people were infected with the virus.

To make matters worse, depressingly familiar politics returned with inevitable DUP allegations that Sinn Féin’s support for an extension of the lockdown was in response to instructions the party was receiving from shadowy bosses in Dublin.

Leadership failure

Sinn Féin vigorously argued that it was acting in line with sound medical and scientific advice and that there should be no easing of restrictions. The party said that any move away from the lockdown would result in ‘excess deaths.’

First Minister Arlene Foster argued, however, that ‘rolling over’ the current regulations for another two weeks (extending the lockdown) would ‘immensely damage the economy.’

All of which prompted public health officials to criticise sharply the DUP’s stance on coronavirus restrictions. They warned that, if the DUP lifted restrictions, the death toll would get worse, and that already it was high enough.

The point also was made that some politicians were incapable of fulfilling the public health needs of the population and that the lack of an all-island approach to the virus was a ‘failure of political leadership’ on both sides of the border.

As well, DUP politicians were accused of being ‘incapable’ and of promoting ‘bad’ politics, the result of which would be unnecessary deaths. Such a situation would not be allowed in any other democracy on the planet, critics said.

Loony tunes

Oh, and here’s something we came across the other day: Germany’s Angela Merkel might be a Satanist! So says a vegan celebrity chef who, with 100,000 followers on his public Telegram channel, has become the head, and chief bottle washer, of a far-right conspiracy outfit which alleges that a gang of Satanic paedophiles is plotting against Donald Trump.

Called the QAnon Conspiracy and boasting of over 100,000 followers, its leader claims that Angela Merkel is using the Pergamon Museum in Berlin for human sacrifices.

The Guardian newspaper recently focussed on the support the loonies get from Donald Trump who defends the QAnon Conspiracy on the basis that they are people who love their country.

But, to the FBI, QAnon consists of Hollywood loonies whose so-called goal is to put an end to the harvesting of life-extending chemicals taken from kidnapped Mexican children!

Satanic verse!

It’s not easy being a dyslexic devil worshipper. If you’re not careful, you could end up selling your soul to Santa!

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