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Virus: Pastors, Prof., Make Pitch to Step Up Efforts to Protect Vulnerable

July 4, 2020 12:10p

(WGTD)---When it comes to making personal decisions on whether to avoid groups, wear a mask or engage in social distancing to help minimize the spread of the coronavirus, individuals should consider the impact of their decisions on the community as a whole. That from two pastors and a philosophy professor who spoke recently on WGTD’s Community Matters program.

“Certain ethical and moral choices cannot be made from the individualistic, self-interested perspective,” said Christopher Hudspeth, an Associate Professor at UW-Parkside. “In our modern society, none of us is so radically independent as to be able to claim that our choices and actions affect no others,” he said.

Piggybacking on those thoughts, Pastor Susan Patterson-Sumwalt of First United Methodist Church said Christian tradition includes the belief that we should think of our neighbors as ourselves, and that we’re all here to work toward a common good.

Those beliefs are put to the test when push comes to shove. “There is a lot of anxiety that’s going around which I think helps turn us inward and also causes us to have those unkind actions toward others,” Patterson-Sumwalt told host Len Iaquinta.

Another panelist actually took the butt of a recent unkind comment.

Pastor Jonathan Barker of Grace Lutheran Church said he was standing in line a couple of weeks ago waiting to get into a grocery store. He and a few others nearby were wearing masks. Another shopper swore at them for doing so.

 It was a surreal moment for Barker. “I really don’t know why people have turned this into such an issue when this is about caring for each other,” he said.

One thing he’s heard is that some people believe their faith alone protects them from contracting the disease, something that Barker totally rejects. “There is no value in our faith tradition of intentionally putting ourselves at risk to demonstrate faith,” Barker said. “Obviously sometimes we need to have faith to serve our neighbors,” he said, citing the work of food pantry volunteers at his church. “That’s the type of faith we want to demonstrate. But we should not put God to the test just for the sake of doing it.”