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May God dwell only in the sanctuary of our hearts, and may the clergy find a new vocation.

Religion in crisis

On Good Friday, he had to walk alone in the empty Square to reenact the poignant scene of Christ’s execution, an event usually attended by thousands of Christians. Iran, one of the worst corona- hit countries and ruled by the fundamentalist clergy, has also suspended pilgrimage to the holy city of Qom and other places. The presiding deities at Venkateswara at Tirupati, Viswanath at Kashi, Siddhivinayak at Mumbai and Vaishnodevi have all gracefully reconciled themselves to their solitary existence; maybe they are enjoying the solitude after millennia of assaults by noisy and unruly crowds of devotees. Like the diehard Tablighi Jamaat followers in India who believed that the Allah merciful will protect them from the virus and nothing can happen to Muslims, the Mullahs in Pakistan, in outrageous defiance of their Government, are conducting congregational prayers in mosques and will continue to do so during the holy month of Ramzan, undeterred by the soaring numbers of the afflicted and the dead. Priests, Bishops, Imams, Rabbis and Granthis everywhere are heeding to their Governments’ call for suspending all religious services while urging their faithfuls to worship God from the confines of their homes. But for the crass stupidity of the Tablighis in India that led to a huge spike in the contagion, their 16,000 strong assembly in Malaysia in February that caused the spread of the deadly virus to many other countries, the ignorance and arrogance of the medieval Mullahs in Pakistan who refused to keep their faithful away from the packed mosques, religious congregations in South Korea and New York, etc., the virus would not have caused such widespread affliction and death in the entire world. The coronavirus is reconfiguring and redefining religion, bringing its countless fissures and faultlines to the fore, unravelling its contradictions and exposing the essence of its rituals for what they actually are ~ useless. Today the coronavirus has presented an absurd reality to religion ~ it has forced it to abandon rituals and reduced the churches, mosques, temples and synagogues to irrelevance. God, if he exists at all, has many reasons to be angry with man for what he has done to his creation, this beautiful earth that is now slowly reviving while humans have been forced to restrain their greedy activities, albeit temporarily. In exiling religion permanently from the churches, mosques and temples to homes where it truly belongs, society has a rare opportunity to redeem itself for all future times.

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