Whenever a disease or plague spreads, there are always superstitious people who claim it as a punishment sent by God.
It happened in the Middle East over many centuries, whenever people suffered from leprosy.
It happened in Europe, during the time of the Black Death.
It happened in London, in 1666, when England’s capital city was destroyed by fire.
It happened in Britain, in the 1800’s, when overcrowding and bad drains caused hundreds of thousands of people to die from typhus and cholera.
It happened in New Zealand and throughout the world in 1919, when many people died from the influenza plague.
It happened in our lifetime, when Aids arrived and fundamentalists thought God was punishing people for sexual misbehaviour.
Whenever there is a plague or pestilence, there is always an initial reaction caused by superstition and ignorance.
People forget that Jesus spent much of his time fighting disease, and Jesus implied that if disease comes from God, then it means Jesus is fighting God.
A similar debate is reported in the Bible. In Matthew 12: 22-32, and Jesus went on to suggest that anyone attributing evil to God’s Spirit is committing an unforgivable sin.
Christians should have long outgrown the idea that God is a God of vengeance who, like a bully, strikes people down whenever they think or act differently from the way God intends.
When God cannot get his own way he doesn’t lash out with things like cancer, fires, Aids, earthquakes, and car crashes.
Some years ago the Archbishop of Canterbury said, in the course of a sermon: “Reading Christian history should tell us as clearly as we could wish that there is hardly any church that has not been responsible at some point for another church’s suffering.”
Churches have suffered, certainly, but so have countless people who make up the churches. Many people have suffered as a result of ignorant people’s rush to judgment.