Arquivo da tag: Protestantismo

The coronavirus pandemic has exposed fissures within religions (The Economist)

Original article

Apr 11th 2020

Worshippers are suspending rites hitherto regarded as vital

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IN THE 2,000 years since the story of Jesus was first told in Rome, his followers have never seen an Easter like this. In Catholicism’s home, the most poignant moment in the Paschal drama comes on Good Friday when the pope leads worshippers on a walk, with 14 stops, enacting the progress of Jesus towards his execution.

This year that has proved impossible. It was announced that instead, Pope Francis would move about in an empty St Peter’s square. Two days later, on April 12th, instead of proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus to a multitude, he would officiate almost alone in its vast basilica. Millions could observe, but only electronically.

Past emergencies, from recessions to wars, have galvanised people to find new meaning in old rituals. But nothing prepared believers for the world of covid-19, in which those rituals, the gestures and gatherings at the heart of their identity, have become a public danger. For innovative religious types who already use technology with confidence (see article), the crisis will accelerate a trend. But for more established faiths, reactions have ranged from meek compliance to truculent defiance.

Covid-19 has not generally widened fissures between faiths. Rather, it has widened those within the ranks of all great religions. They were already squabbling over how far old beliefs could live with modern views of Earth’s origin. The pandemic exacerbates the rift between science-defiers and those who respect the laboratory.

For some, the bafflement is palpable. Russian Orthodoxy’s Patriarch Kirill declared on March 29th: “I have been preaching for 51 years…I hope you understand how difficult it is for me to say today, refrain from visiting churches.” Among eastern Christianity’s followers, many will not: clerics in Georgia, for example, continued to offer the faithful consecrated bread and wine, by which it is impossible, they insist, to be harmed.

Pope Francis has sounded surer: “Thick darkness has gathered over our squares, our streets and our cities; it has taken over our lives, filling everything with a deafening silence and a distressing void.” But the broader response of Western faith has been unimpressive, argues Marco Ventura of Siena University. “Even for many believers, medical officers are the new prophets.”

Not all Christians agree. Some American evangelicals, including vocal supporters of Donald Trump, have been reckless denialists of covid-19. A preacher in Florida, Rodney Howard-Browne, was briefly arrested on March 30th after busing people to worship, insisting he could neutralise the virus. Some politicians seem half-sympathetic. Two days later the state’s governor, Ron DeSantis, listed religious activities among “essential services” that could continue (without crowds) despite a lockdown. In at least a dozen other states, such activities were left unimpeded.

Secularist rage has been rising since early surges in the epidemic were traced to religious recklessness. In South Korea hundreds of members of the secretive Shincheonji Church of Jesus contracted the virus at packed services and spread it. The government complained that the church was not co-operating in tracing them. Its leader later apologised. An Islamic gathering in Malaysia in February helped spread the virus to neighbouring countries.

Elsewhere, liberal clergymen, rabbis and imams have heeded calls to suspend gatherings. But among ordinary people, the order to stop their cherished rituals feels like a dark conspiracy. “Not even the communists completely forbade Easter services” is a refrain in eastern Europe.

Within Judaism, many have reacted creatively, accepting, for instance, that a minyan, the ten-strong quorum for worship, might assemble electronically. The ultra-Orthodox, or Haredim, however, have dug their heels in. In Israel the Haredi stronghold of Bnei Brak has been a covid-19 hotspot. People have insisted on gathering for prayers, weddings and funerals, defying a lockdown and exacerbating chronic tensions between the Haredim and the state.

Elsewhere zealots already at odds with the state or with established religious powers have found in the virus a fresh battleground. In Iraq Muqtada al-Sadr, a fiery cleric, has challenged Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, a Shia leader who has denounced those who spread the virus as murderers. On March 5th Mr Sadr prayed at the entrance to the Imam Ali shrine in Najaf until caretakers opened the teak doors. It remained open, and mourners carry their dead around the shrine in coffins. The radical preacher has called coronavirus a punishment for gay marriage, as have some fundamentalist Christians.

Where the state broadly controls Islam, as it does in the Gulf monarchies, orders to suspend Friday prayers have been obeyed. The Saudis have told pilgrims to defer any plans to make the haj in July. But when Ramadan begins around April 23rd, authorities in all Islamic lands will struggle to restrain communal meals to break the fast.

In Iran, one of the first- and worst-hit countries, the religious authorities wield ultimate power. Their decision on March 16th to suspend pilgrimages to holy places, including those in the city of Qom from which infection had spread to other countries, was criticised as too late by secular liberals, too harsh by the ultra-devout.

India is one of many places where politicians must collaborate with religious forces. In Ayodhya, claimed as the birthplace of Rama, officials tried with mixed results to limit celebrations of the Hindu god. It was left up to the Hindu organisers to encourage restraint; they obeyed reluctantly.

On the spectrum of reactions, the Catholic one stands out as respectful of science. Today’s Holy See differs from the one which in centuries past persecuted astronomers. But some critics, including conservative American Catholics, see in its meek response the church’s broader weakness.

The contrast between cautious Catholics and gung-ho evangelicals has been sharp in Brazil. Catholic bishops and politicians have co-operated with the suspension of services, while President Jair Bolsonaro, an evangelical who has called the virus “just a sniffle”, has joined co-religionists in legal battles to keep churches open.

In the end, the survival of religions may depend on their finding a way of explaining to followers, in their own terms, why their spiritual duty now lies in suspending rites hitherto regarded as vital. As Shadi Hamid of the Brookings Institution, a think-tank, notes, Muslim jurisprudence has accepted that human survival can trump other norms: a Muslim can eat forbidden pork rather than starve. For liberal-minded Jews, the ideal of tikkun olam, or repairing the world, is higher than rules governing prayer or diet.

Communion, during which Christians consume bread and wine which some believe to have been transformed into the body and blood of Jesus, throws up particular challenges. Rule-minded Christians find an electronic Eucharist untenable: the ritual has to be physical.

And yet traditional Christian teaching may also have hygienically helpful things to say. It affirms that the entire world is mysteriously blessed every time bread and wine are sanctified, regardless of how many are present. That helps explain the determination of Greece’s bishops to celebrate “behind closed doors” this month the services leading to Orthodox Easter.

James Alison, a radical Catholic priest, proposes a solution both revolutionary and traditionalist. He is encouraging households to practise “Eucharistic worship” at home: to bless bread and wine and invoke the presence of Jesus. His approach, he says, affirms the intimacy and mystery of classical worship but challenges the idea of a caste of celebrants. As he points out, a lack of manpower in some parts of Christendom is already prompting a rethink of the role of priests: the virus could be the coup de grâce. Pope Francis has called the pandemic “a time to separate that which is necessary from that which is not”. Some may take him at his word.

Pandemia de coronavírus expõe as fissuras nas religiões (Estadão)

Artigo original em português

The Economist, 12 de abril de 2020

Nos dois mil anos desde que a história de Jesus começou a ser contada em Roma, os seus seguidores nunca viram uma Páscoa como esta. Na sede do catolicismo, o momento mais pungente do drama pascoal ocorre na Sexta-feira Santa, quando o papa conduz os fiéis em uma caminhada, com 14 estações, que representa o caminho percorrido por Jesus até a sua execução.

Este ano, isto se tornou impossível. Foi anunciado que em vez disso, o Papa Francisco andaria pela Praça de São Pedro vazia. Dois dias depois, no dia 12 de abril, em lugar de proclamar a ressurreição de Jesus a uma multidão, ele oficiará praticamente só em sua vasta basílica. Milhões de pessoas poderão observá-lo, mas apenas eletronicamente.

Emergências passadas, desde recessões até guerras, estimularam as pessoas a encontrar um novo significado em antigos rituais. Mas nada preparou os fiéis para o mundo do coronavírus, em que esses rituais, os gestos, a reunião que fazem parte de sua identidade, se tornaram um perigo público. Para as religiões inovadoras que já usam a tecnologia com segurança, a crise simplesmente vai acelerar uma tendência. Mas para os credos mais antigos, as reações variaram do dócil cumprimento ao desafio truculento.

A covid-19 não ampliou em geral as fraturas existentes entre os credos. Mas ampliou as que existem entre os seguidores de todas as grandes religiões. Eles já discutiam até quando durariam as antigas crenças com as modernas visões da origem da Terra. A pandemia exacerba a fratura entre os que desafiam a ciência e os que respeitam o laboratório.

Para alguns, a perplexidade é palpável. O Patriarca Kirilli da Ortodoxia russa, declarou no dia 29 de março: “Rezo há 51 anos… Espero que vocês compreendam como é difícil para mim dizer hoje: não visitem as igrejas”. Entre os seguidores do cristianismo oriental, muitos não o farão: os clérigos da Georgia, por exemplo, continuaram a oferecer aos fiéis o pão e o vinho consagrados, pelos quais, insistem é impossível sermos prejudicados.

O Papa Francisco se mostrou mais seguro: “Uma escuridão profunda se adensou sobre as nossas praças, as nossas ruas, as nossas cidades; levou as nossas vidas, preenchendo tudo de um silêncio ensurdecedor e de um vazio angustiante”. Mas a resposta da fé ocidental como um todo não chegou a impressionar, afirma Marco Ventura, da Universidade de Siena. “Até mesmo para muitos fiéis, os médicos são os novos profetas”.

Nem todos os cristãos concordam. Alguns evangélicos americanos, como os ruidosos seguidores de Donald Trump, negaram temerariamente a covid-19. Um pregador da Flórida, Rodney Howard-Browne, foi preso por pouco tempo no dia 30 de março por levar pessoas de ônibus para a igreja, insistindo que ele neutralizaria o vírus. Alguns políticos aparentemente mostram até simpatizar com esta atitude. Dois dias mais tarde, o governador do estado, Ron DeSantis, incluiu as atividades religiosas entre “os serviços essenciais” que poderiam continuar (sem multidões) apesar do fechamento. Em pelo menos dez estados, estas atividades foram liberadas.

A revolta dos secularistas aumenta desde que as primeiras ondas da epidemia foram atribuídas à imprudência religiosa, Na Coreia do Sul, centenas de membros da Igreja secreta Shincheonji de Jesus contraíram o vírus em serviços celebrados com multidões de presentes, o espalharam. O governo lamentou que a igreja não tenha cooperado procurando-os. O seu líder posteriormente pediu desculpas. Uma reunião islâmica na Malásia, em fevereiro, ajudou a espalhar o vírus para os países vizinhos.

Em outras partes, clérigos, rabinos e imãs liberais atenderam aos apelos pela suspensão das reuniões. Mas as pessoas comuns, veem a ordem de pararem os seus rituais prediletos como uma obscura conspiração. “Nem os comunistas proibiram os serviços da Páscoa” é o refrão na Europa Oriental.

No judaísmo, muitos reagiram de maneira criativa, aceitando, por exemplo, que um minyan, o quorum de dez pessoas para as orações, possa reunir-se eletronicamente. Os ultra ortodoxos, ou Haredim, entretanto, bateram o pé. Em Israel, a fortaleza haredi de Bnei Brak é um dos pontos chave do covid-19. As pessoas insistiram em reunir-se para as orações, os casamentos e os funerais, desafiando o fechamento e exacerbando as tensões crônicas entre os haredim e o Estado.

Em outros países, os ortodoxos que costumam discordar do Estado ou dos poderes religiosos encontraram no vírus um novo motivo de enfrentamento. No Iraque, Muqtada al-Sadr, um clérigo inflamado, desafiou  o Grande Ayatollah Ali al-Sistami, o líder xiita que denunciou os que espalharam o vírus como assassinos. No dia 5 de março, Sadr orou na entrada do santuário do Imã Ali, em Najaf, até que os zeladores abriram o portão de teca. Ele permaneceu aberta, e os pranteadores carregam os seus mortos em torno do santuário nos caixões. O pregador radical definiu o coronavírus um castigo por causa do casamento gay, assim como fizeram cristãos fundamentalistas.

Onde o Estado controla amplamente o Islã, como nas monarquias do Golfo, as ordens para suspender as orações da sexta-feira foram obedecidas. Os sauditas disseram aos peregrinos que adiassem os planos de fazer a haj em julho. Mas quando o Ramadan começar, por volta de 23 de abril, as autoridades em todos os países islâmicos terão dificuldade para proibir as refeições comuns para quebrar o jejum.

No Irã, um dos primeiros países e o mais atingido, as autoridades religiosas detêm o poder último. Sua decisão, no dia 16 de março de suspender  as peregrinações aos lugares sagrados, inclusive para a cidade de Qom da qual o contágio se espalhou para outros países, foi criticada como excessivamente tardia  pelos liberais saculares, e demasiado rigorosa pelos ultra devotos.

A Índia é um dos vários países em que os políticos precisam colaborar  com as forças religiosas. Em Ayodhhya, supostamente o lugar de nascimento de Rama, as autoridades tentaram, com resultados desiguais, limitar as celebrações do deus hindu. Os organizadores hindus foram encarregados de encorajar as restrições; mas eles obedeceram com relutância.

Quanto às reações, o católico se destaca pelo respeito à ciência. A Santa Sé dos dias atuais é diferente daquela que nos séculos passados perseguiu os astrônomos. Mas alguns críticos, como os católicos americanos conservadores, consideram sua resposta submissa a grande fraqueza da igreja.


O contraste entre os cautelosos católicos e os evangélicos entusiastas é agudo no Brasil. Os bispos católicos e os políticos  cooperaram com a suspensão dos serviços, enquanto o presidente Jair Bolsonaro, evangélico, que chamou o vírus “uma gripezinha”, se uniu aos seus correligionários em batalhas legais para manter as igrejas abertas.

No final, a sobrevivência das religiões poderá depender  de descobrirem uma maneira de explicar aos seus seguidores, em seus próprios termos, por que o dever espiritual agora é suspender ritos até agora considerados  vitais. Como observa Shadi Hamid da Brookings Institution, um grupo de pesquisadores, a jurisprudência muçulmana aceitou que a sobrevivência humana pode se sobrepor a outras normas: um muçulmano pode comer a carne de porco, que é proibida, para não morrer de fome. Para os judeus liberais, o ideal do tikkun olam, ou reparação do mundo, é superior às  normas que governam a oração ou a dieta.

A comunhão, durante a qual os cristãos consomem o pão e o vinho que alguns acreditam tenha se transformado no corpo e no sangue de Jesus, introduz desafios particulares. Os cristãos que respeitam as regras consideram a eucaristia eletrônica indefensável: o ritual deve ser físico.

E no entanto, o ensinamento cristão tradicional pode também ter coisas úteis para dizer do ponto de vista da higiene: Ele afirma que misteriosamente o mundo todo é abençoado toda vez em que o pão e o vinho são consagrados, independentemente o número de pessoas presentes. Isto ajuda em parte a explicar a determinação dos bispos da Grécia de, este mês, celebrar “a portas fechadas” os serviços que antecedem a Páscoa Ortodoxa.

James Alison, um sacerdote católico radical, propõe uma solução ao mesmo tempo revolucionária e tradicionalista. Ele encoraja as famílias a praticarem “a adoração eucarística” em casa, abençoando o pão e o vinho e invocando a presença de Jesus.

Segundo ele, a sua abordagem afirma a intimidade e o mistério da adoração clássica, mas desafia a ideia de uma casta de celebrantes. Como ele ressalta, a falta de mão de obra em algumas partes da cristandade já está levando a reconsiderar o papel dos sacerdotes: o vírus poderia ser o golpe de graça. O Papa Francisco definiu a pandemia “uma época para separarmos o que é necessário do que não é”. É possível que alguns creiam plenamente em suas palavras. /TRADUÇÃO DE ANNA CAPOVILLA

Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming (Cornwall Alliance)


May 1, 2009


As governments consider policies to fight alleged man-made global warming, evangelical leaders have a responsibility to be well informed, and then to speak out. A Renewed Call to Truth, Prudence, and Protection of the Poor: An Evangelical Examination of the Theology, Science, and Economics of Global Warming demonstrates that many of these proposed policies would destroy jobs and impose trillions of dollars in costs to achieve no net benefits. They could be implemented only by enormous and dangerous expansion of government control over private life. Worst of all, by raising energy prices and hindering economic development, they would slow or stop the rise of the world’s poor out of poverty and so condemn millions to premature death.


  1. We believe Earth and its ecosystems—created by God’s intelligent design and infinite power and sustained by His faithful providence —are robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting, admirably suited for human flourishing, and displaying His glory.  Earth’s climate system is no exception. Recent global warming is one of many natural cycles of warming and cooling in geologic history.
  2. We believe abundant, affordable energy is indispensable to human flourishing, particularly to societies which are rising out of abject poverty and the high rates of disease and premature death that accompany it. With present technologies, fossil and nuclear fuels are indispensable if energy is to be abundant and affordable.
  3. We believe mandatory reductions in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, achievable mainly by greatly reduced use of fossil fuels, will greatly increase the price of energy and harm economies.
  4. We believe such policies will harm the poor more than others because the poor spend a higher percentage of their income on energy and desperately need economic growth to rise out of poverty and overcome its miseries.


  1. We deny that Earth and its ecosystems are the fragile and unstable products of chance, and particularly that Earth’s climate system is vulnerable to dangerous alteration because of minuscule changes in atmospheric chemistry. Recent warming was neither abnormally large nor abnormally rapid. There is no convincing scientific evidence that human contribution to greenhouse gases is causing dangerous global warming.
  2. We deny that alternative, renewable fuels can, with present or near-term technology, replace fossil and nuclear fuels, either wholly or in significant part, to provide the abundant, affordable energy necessary to sustain prosperous economies or overcome poverty.
  3. We deny that carbon dioxide—essential to all plant growth—is a pollutant. Reducing greenhouse gases cannot achieve significant reductions in future global temperatures, and the costs of the policies would far exceed the benefits.
  4. We deny that such policies, which amount to a regressive tax, comply with the Biblical requirement of protecting the poor from harm and oppression.


In light of these facts,

  1. We call on our fellow Christians to practice creation stewardship out of Biblical conviction, adoration for our Creator, and love for our fellow man—especially the poor.
  2. We call on Christian leaders to understand the truth about climate change and embrace Biblical thinking, sound science, and careful economic analysis in creation stewardship.
  3. We call on political leaders to adopt policies that protect human liberty, make energy more affordable, and free the poor to rise out of poverty, while abandoning fruitless, indeed harmful policies to control global temperature.

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