A new op-ed piece in Foreign Policy takes aim at Macedonia’s Orthodox Church, for engaging in practices and rituals that make the transmission of COVID-19 more likely than practically anything we’ve seen from U.S. churches. The Macedonian worshipers don’t just shake hands and breathe on each other; they also serially kiss religious icons… and then up the ante by collectively using a single spoon to ingest a foul concoction of wine, bread, and saliva that is meant to represent the blood and body of Jesus.
I’ve briefly described this ritual before, in late March. At that time, the spoon-sharing madness took place in a church in Romania. That the wildly unhygienic practice is still going on in other churches that represent the same faith might seem to beggar belief, but this is religion we’re talking about. The stubbornness and the aversion to basic science are practically built in.
Last Thursday and Friday, believers flocked to churches, lining up to be served communion by the priests… The act of communion in the Eastern Orthodox Church involves priests placing bread into a wine-filled chalice. The bread and the wine symbolize the body and blood of Christ. As the bread soaks in the wine, the priests use the same spoon to put a piece of the bread into the mouth of each believer. At the end, the priest drinks whatever wine is left in the chalice.
When a journalist asked a spokesman for the Macedonian Orthodox Church whether spoon-sharing was a good idea during a viral pandemic, the response was
“Absolutely. Whoever is scared shouldn’t come. We aren’t going to change a centuries-old tradition.”
“They haven’t provided any facts that communion and using the same spoon could transmit any disease,” he said.
Hoo-boy. Fine — how about we start with this recent study in Nature?
Saliva, a biofluid largely generated from salivary glands in oral cavity, has been reported 2019-nCoV nucleic acid positive. Besides lungs, salivary glands and tongue are possibly another hosts of 2019-nCoV due to expression of ACE2. Close contact or short-range transmission of infectious saliva droplets is a primary mode for 2019-nCoV to disseminate.
Mitevski won’t read it, of course — and if he did, he’d probably argue that the alcohol in the wine neutralizes the virus, or that God will magically cleanse the spoon between sips.
The jurors for the Darwin Awards are going to have a lot of deserving candidates this year.
(Screenshot via YouTube)