The politicization of COVID-19 has too often resulted in strict binaries. You see actual pastors literally telling their congregations “you don’t need the vaccine, you got Jesus,” drawing imaginary lines between a faith response and a scientific one.
So it’s a relief to see Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards refuse this false dichotomy, saying he believes “very strongly” in the power of prayer. In fact, Bel Edwards noted that this week, he and his wife Donna Edwards will spend Monday, Wednesday and Friday fasting and praying for their state’s healthcare workers and “all of those who are sick with or affected by COVID-19.”
“In addition to prayer, the Governor encourages all Louisianans to help slow the spread of COVID by getting their vaccines and wearing masks whenever they are indoors and in public,” said a news release from Bel Edwards’ office.
Bel Edwards said he decided to start praying and fasting after speaking with a group of pastors. “Yesterday, I asked hundreds of ministers and pastors throughout Louisiana to join me during the lunch hour next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in praying and fasting for our state, and I am extending this invitation to anyone and everyone who is so inclined, no matter their religious beliefs,”
“I believe very strongly in the power of prayer,” he continued. “And there are thousands of people right now in Louisiana who need to be lifted up in prayer. So I hope you will join your prayers to mine for healing and protection.”
He said he’s praying for four specific things: that the sick will recover, that healthcare professionals will remain healthy and encouraged, that the school year will get off to a safe start and that Louisiana residents “will do everything they can to help us slow the spread of this terrible virus.”
Bel Edwards has often found himself standing athwart stereotypes. He’s a well-liked Democratic governor in a deeply red state, a man who trends to the right of most of his political party and the left of most of his constituents.
Louisiana has been rocked by the latest wave of the COVID-19 virus, with the current seven-day average of new cases and hospitalizations reaching all-time highs. 90 percent of the hospitalizations are among Louisiana residents who are not fully vaccinated, according to the Department of Health.
Tyler Huckabee is RELEVANT's senior editor. He lives in Nashville with his wife, dog and Twitter account.