Emerging from the depths of lockdown last year, my family and I found salvation in the Salvation Army, while the Catholic church we normally attended treated its parishioners like lepers.
In our London suburb, the Salvation Army chapel opened its doors long before other churches. My three daughters, aged 4, 8 and 11, really enjoyed the service and mixing with the other children doing craftwork. They learned more from the Bible than they ever gleaned from the garbled readings at their usual church.
The pastor couple regarded the lock-out of places of worship as an affront to Christianity. Tentatively, in private conversation, I asked our new-found spiritual guides what they thought about Covid-19 and the totalitarian response by governments around the world and found we were on the same wavelength, although the pastors were less surprised by events.
Tyranny is only possible because so much of society has abandoned faith
The threat of the Antichrist is ever-present, luring good but gullible people into misdeeds. Tyranny is only possible because so much of society has abandoned faith.
People hid their faces in the house of God, with elbow bumps instead of the usual handshakes
Sadly, all the social distancing imposed by the Catholic Church, nationally and locally, didn’t prevent the elderly priest dying with coronavirus and co-morbidities. For some of the flock, this emphasised the need for rigid regulations; people hid their faces in the house of God, with elbow bumps instead of the usual handshakes. How sad, I felt.
Two hours of joyful, mask-free interaction with a small and cohesive community of like-minded souls
Meanwhile the NHS was sanctified: the Thursday clapping ritual seemed to symbolise the transfer of faith from God to medicine. Doctors and nurses may save lives, but it is Jesus Christ who really works wonders.
Our Sunday mornings became a highlight of the week: two hours of joyful mask-free interaction with a small and cohesive community of like-minded souls.
Not all Catholic churches and clergy are Covid zealots, and not all Salvation Army ministries kept the flame lit in the lockdown gloom. But it is probably fair to say that the more established the Church, the more the official narrative dominates.
Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury could have bucked against the unprecedented closure of churches, but they sided with lay authorities. We have learned much in the last 18 months.
Dr Niall McCrae
Dr Niall McCrae is a writer on mental health and society, with almost 100 papers published in academic journals. His latest book, ‘Moralitis: a Cultural Virus’, was reviewed in Prophecy Today as “a thoughtful, helpful and resourceful little book…at least five copies per congregation!”
As an officer of the Workers of England trade union, Niall represents members against Covid coercion in the workplace.