Indonesia, which has the world’s largest population of Muslims and a history of discriminating against atheists, is encouraging its citizens to pray as protection from the coronavirus, with its health minister saying they will “rely on the almighty.”
Indonesia first made news when Harvard researchers started looking into why there are so few reported cases of coronavirus in the country, when nations surrounding it have seen thousands falling ill. Although experts said there could be undetected cases in Indonesia, the nation’s health minister Terawan Agus Putranto called that “insulting” and said there were no recorded cases “all because of prayers.”
Putranto took his comments even further by saying the new strain of coronavirus could be combatted using religion.
“In accordance with [state ideology] Pancasila, our country believes in God. No matter the religion, as long as we uphold Pancasila, praying is of utmost importance. We work and pray. It’s an honorable thing,” Terawan said.
“If there are other countries protesting [our approach], just let them; it is our nation’s right to rely on the Almighty,” he said. “Why should we be ashamed of relying on the Almighty? We should not be ashamed of praying.”
Just because Indonesia hasn’t had any confirmed cases of the virus (or is contesting any possible reports of people who have it), there is no guarantee that it will continue along that same path. And there is zero chance that prayer, which every religious person is probably doing in affected areas, is going to keep them protected.
If anything, it appears Indonesia is making matters worse on themselves by focusing on prayer rather than accurate scientific testing, which could be contributing to their lack of confirmed cases.
Terawan also responded to questions on Monday regarding why the government had only tested a total of 104 specimens for suspected coronavirus cases so far — 102 of which had tested negative, with two awaiting results — saying that it was done for “budget efficiency” reasons.
Sure, critical thinking comes into play when it’s about budget efficiency… but when it comes to preventing a potential pandemic, they leave it up to the Big Guy upstairs. Makes sense.
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