Johnson and Kidd: Responding to COVID-19 would be a lot harder without churches and Christian groups

April 1, 2020

RFI Cofounder and Senior Fellow, Byron Johnson, recently co-authored an article with Thomas Kidd in The Dallas Morning News titled, “Responding to COVID-19 would be a lot harder without churches and Christian groups.” In response to “unfortunately, well deserved” criticisms leveled at certain congregations for their deeply misguided responses to COVID-19, Johnson and Kidd stress that faith communities and ministries are vital in times of crisis, including this pandemic. 

The article turns both to historical examples and new studies to demonstrate the essential role religious communities play in combating a wide range of social ills. In the face of COVID-19, religious ministries are expanding services rather than pulling back, which aligns with the way religious communities have responded to crises in the past. Pointing to key studies on this issue, Johnson and Kidd note the following findings:    

In fact, a recent study, using data provided by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, shows that faith-based organizations provide 60% of the emergency beds for the homeless in America. The same can be said for the faith-based organizations working with various disadvantaged populations. Many faith-based groups work diligently and effectively on difficult-to-solve problems like human trafficking, prisoner rehabilitation, drug treatment and prisoner reentry, to name just a few. 

The article points out that faith communities not only provide overwhelming material support to the most vulnerable among us, but it also connects regular attendance at religious services to “higher levels of subjective well-being.”

There are now thousands of peer-reviewed publications linking religious attendance to various aspects of mental and physical health, as well as other salutary outcomes, including lower crime and deviance, less substance abuse, and offender reform. Though houses of worship are easy targets of criticism, there is ample empirical evidence that participation in religious communities and activities is associated with several measures of human flourishing.

By looking to various historical examples and studies, the article makes an utterly compelling case that religious communities and ministries are indispensable in battling the COVID-19 crisis.

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