The BBC reports (and has a short clip) of a group of rabbis that took a flight over Israel while praying and blowing the shofar (a ram's horn) in an effort to " stop the [Swine Flu] pandemic so people will stop dying from it." One of the Rabbis also added that "We are certain that, thanks to the prayer, the danger is already behind us."
People ought to believe whatever they want and if religion gives them comfort and makes them feel safer, that's fine and wonderful for them and really ought not to be of any concern to anyone else. If these rabbis think that their fervent praying--which makes them look a bit silly to those who understand what they're doing and downright alien to those who may not--makes them and everyone else safe from the sickness, however, then it becomes everyone's concern. Not because everyone is really safe, but because if these rabbis and their communities now believe they're safe they may be less inclined to take measures to help prevent the spread of the disease. One must hope that, whatever these people believe, they're not ignoring the medically necessary measures to ensure that h1n1 is contained.
Another, perhaps more worrying example of religion becoming of concern to everyone is in the UK where Muslim medical staff in certain hospitals are refusing to use hand sanitizer--a key link in the strategy to prevent the spread of h1n1--because it contains alcohol. Apparently, a less effective, alcohol-free hand sanitizer has been made available to the individuals concerned, but this is another example of where religion, which normally ought to be nobody's business, crosses into the public sphere and becomes a concern to everyone.
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