Luo contrasts the early Christians’ courageous and inspiring collective witness during pandemics with the contemporary Church’s Covid-19 response.
“For years, the church in America has been in retreat, in cultural influence and in numbers. According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, in 2019, sixty-five per cent of Americans identified as Christians, down twelve per cent from the previous decade; meanwhile, the numbers of the religiously unaffiliated have grown to twenty-six per cent. The co-opting of white evangelicalism by Republican politics helps to explain the confrontational attitude of conservative Christians, but so does the fear of many believers that they are losing their place in a secularizing America. A pluralistic society needs to insure that people of faith, as well as those without any faith, have a role in the public square. But the defiance of the church during the pandemic has come with a cost. The pandemic in 2020 has held a mirror to Christianity, just as the epidemics of antiquity did, but today’s reflection carries the potential to repulse rather than attract. Once the vaccine is widely distributed next year, the church, along with the rest of society, will begin to move on. Yet the world will not be as it was. Churches will have to reckon not only with whether their congregants will return in person, but with how much their collective witness––the term Christians use to describe their ability to point to Jesus in their lives––may have been diminished.”