Where’s the Beef?


“Where’s the beef?” is a catchphrase phrase that originated as a slogan for a fast-food chain.

Since then it has become an all-purpose phrase questioning the substance of an idea, event or product.

Some are asking where’s the beef in the contention that religious events are riskier than other social occasions?

There is no clear answer. The decision-makers in New Zealand have taken the view “when in doubt sit it out.”

The archbishop of Wellington Cardinal John Dew told Checkpoint he is hearing from are saying people are happy.

“There’s a few people who are not, and who are emailing and saying, ‘we want the churches open to get back to mass as soon as possible’.

But it’s a small minority. We’re listening to them, and I’ve responded to lots of people just trying to explain,” he said.

Dew welcomed the news that Cabinet is reviewing the rules on religious gatherings, and told Checkpoint he is hopeful change will come soon.

 The case for continued Lockdown

Religious gatherings are believed to have amplified the spread of the virus in some overseas cases.

Here are some of the instances cited:

  • Orthodox Jewish communities in The United States
  • A Sikh guru who did not self-quarantine after a trip to virus-plagued Italy and Germany,
  • A religious sect in South Korea
  • An evangelical church in France
  • In the USA, two churches reclosed after faith leaders and congregants got COVID-19

There have also been some suggestions that singing – a common part of some religious services – could disperse an infected person’s viral particles farther than normal talking.

But not all scientists agree with the idea that singing poses a health risk.

The Case for re-opening churches

A panel of Catholic doctors from some of the United States top research hospitals and universities say churches should be able to reopen.

They say that religious activity is no riskier than  other “essential services,”

They have published a document on their website A Roadmap to Reopening Our Churches.

It provides guidance on how to reopen churches including how to hear confessions and resume public celebrations of the Eucharist.

“I believe that churches can be just as safe, if not at times safer than so-called ‘essential businesses,’ provided they take the precautions that are recommended in this document,” said Dr Anushree Shirali, a nephrologist at the Yale University School of Medicine.

So then this is the question: Are religious activities essential services?


Additional reading

News category: New Zealand.

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