Religion Unplugged

Just when worship gatherings seemed safe again, delta variant raises renewed concerns

By Bobby Ross Jr. | Religion Unplugged

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ORLANDO, Fla. — At the Equip Conference last weekend, most people saw no need to wear a mask.

Fully vaccinated myself, I enjoyed the feeling of normalcy as nearly 1,000 worshipers sang and prayed in a Central Florida hotel ballroom.

“It’s great, especially being vaccinated, to feel safe to shake hands with everyone, to give hugs, to talk and be in close proximity,” church planter Roslyn Miller told me at the regional gathering of Churches of Christ. “I’ve seen so many old friends and people I’ve known for years.”

But since then, concerns that vaccinated people may spread COVID-19’s highly contagious delta variant have kept rising.

“The war has changed,” according to an internal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention document cited Thursday night by the Washington Post and early today by the New York Times.

Oh boy, here we go again.

Houses of worship “are weighing the benefits and potential backlash of mandating masks again,” the Post ‘s Sarah Pulliam Bailey reports. However, some religious leaders remain skeptical of the virus.

White evangelical Christians “are more resistant to getting the vaccine than other major religious groups,” the Wall Street Journal‘s Ian Lovett notes in a story on new survey data.

On the positive side, “America’s religious communities have played an important role in upping acceptance of vaccines designed to thwart COVID-19,” the Washington Times’ Mark A. Kellner explains, quoting the same Public Religion Research Institute study.

While some houses of worship contemplate a return to COVID-19 safety protocols, others never ceased such measures, The Oklahoman’s Carla Hinton points out.

In an open letter to fellow Christians, a Missouri church elder makes a biblical case for getting the vaccine.

When will this pandemic finally end?

It’s a mystery.

Read the full column.

This column appears in the online magazine Religion Unplugged.

Shutterstock photo

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