My article, ‘Retreat, rebuke, recite: outliers in church responses to the current COVID-19 pandemic‘ is now available online in the journal Practical Theology.
The article considers atypical responses to the COVID-19 pandemic by Christian leaders. In a three-fold classification it first identifies a retreat from civic life in resistance to lock-down restrictions on places of worship, demanding reopening on extreme readings of rights of religious freedom, and refusal of mandatory mask-wearing. A second classification groups as ‘rebuke’ spiritual warfare approaches within the prosperity gospel tradition that take the virus to be demonic, from which there is a promise to be claimed of God’s protection and healing. A third classification gathers a range of conspiracy theories recited by Christian preachers. In evaluating the responses, a parallel classification of entombing conspiracies, endorsing public health measures, and engaging in civic life is proposed. Drawing upon the common good as a theological critique it is concluded that extremist Christian views present a danger to global public health.