Americans across the country are bracing for the impact of the COVID-19 virus. Amid instability, it’s easy to give in to misinformation and fear. But, as a national interfaith organization that celebrates diverse communities, we urge our members to ground their preparations in our most treasured values: justice, dignity, and care for one another.
Transforming Our Relationships – Interpersonally and Spiritually
Novel coronavirus is changing how we approach many areas of daily life; jobs, schools, healthcare, and faith communities have all been impacted. Common practices like joining hands or a kiss on the cheek are discouraged to mitigate the spread of the virus, while frequent thorough hand washing is strongly encouraged. And faith leaders across the country have adapted their worship services to protect the health of their congregants. Increasingly, houses of worship have been suspending services to mitigate the spread of the virus.
To many, communal worship is a source of hope, comfort, and connection. As large gatherings become increasingly difficult, faith communities are finding creative solutions. Embraces have been replaced by elbow bumps. Hand sanitizer and tissues are made readily available. Many services have moved online to social media and video streaming platforms, creating new opportunities to maintain community and build spiritual bonds without physical closeness. If you are seeking spiritual community, reach out to your local houses of worship for remote participation options.
Stay Calm, Stay Safe
For many, willingness to adapt – where possible – can diffuse the fear and uncertainty brought on by the virus’s spread. As misinformation exacerbates existing anxieties, the best responses are guided by health officials and involve pragmatic, evidence-based safety measures. The CDC has an abundance of resources that outline common-sense safety measures to protect you and others from infection. It also provides resources for you to share with your workplace, neighbors, and family to dispel rumors around COVID-19.
At the same time, we recognize that flexibility is a luxury. This crisis will disproportionately impact some more than others by exposing the profound inadequacies in our social safety net. Economic insecurity, lack of access to healthcare, paid sick leave, and affordable care providers will impact our personal and community responses. If you’re able, check in with friends and loved ones who may need help.
Fight Fear With Facts
During times of national crisis, our leaders must set aside partisanship and present a calm, unified message to the public. This response must start at the highest levels of our government. Unfortunately, recent remarks by the President have spun an inaccurate narrative that uses xenophobic language to incite suspicion and discrimination. We must fight misinformation and those who would use it for political gain by continuing to promote fact over fiction, and calling on our elected leaders to do the same.
On March 11, 2020, Interfaith Alliance joined over 260 civil rights organizations in urging Congress to call for unity and take action against xenophobic responses to the current outbreak. Led by the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, read the letters to House and Senate leadership and learn more about our work to combat hate.