Pingtung News
Religious Groups of Pingtung Fight Together Against the Epidemic of COVID-19 
Publish Date:2020-03-17    
As the Central Epidemic Command Center upgraded the epidemic prevention level to Level 1 in response to the continuous epidemic of COVID-19 (Wuhan Coronavirus), Pingtung County Government urged religious communities to suspend or delay large-scale religious activities or adjust the scale thereof. Up to now, the County Government received supports from Pingtung County Taoism Association, Pingtung Buddhist Association, Whole-Person Development and Caring Association of Whole Pingtung Christian Coalition, Pingtung County Branch of Yiguandao Taiwan Province Chapter and Pingtung Branch of Tzu Chi Foundation. For example, Tungkang Chaoung Temple delayed the “Pilgrimage Walk” (originally on March 7) and “Mazu Patrol and Pilgrimage” (originally on April 10 to 12); Pingtung Buddhist Association delayed the groundbreaking ceremony for Buddhist Hall, Buddha birthday blessing ceremony and general meeting of members' representatives; Pingtung City Hsuansheng Temple canceled the pilgrimage activity; Pingtung Yuhuang Temple canceled the spring festival parade; Pingtung City Shengti Temple and Tzufeng Temple suspended the celebration of Heavenly Mother’s birthday, distribution of longevity noodles and evening classes of Mazu College since the Spring Festival; Pingtung Branch of Tzu Chi Foundation has adopted online video classes; Pingtung County Branch of Yiguandao Taiwan Province Chapter canceled all activities after the blessing ceremony; Whole Pingtung Christian Coalition encouraged churches to cancel all gatherings or reduce the scale thereof; apart from holding “Three-Day Disaster-Annihilation and Epidemic-Cessation Blessing Ceremony” to eliminate COVID-19, Tungkang Tunglung Temple delated all relevant activities in response to the government’s epidemic prevention strategy; and Pingtung City Tzuhsiao Tichueh Mysterious Heavenly Highest Deity Temple and Hengchun Kaoshanyen Fute Temple also followed the policy of Pingtung County Government, and cancel or suspend related activities.

Department of Civil Affairs, Pingtung County Government expressed that religion played an important role in social stability and that, to prevent social anxiety resulted from epidemic spread, local religious groups had shown their supports to the County Government’s epidemic prevention policy. Despite its respects to religious autonomy, the County Government also hopes that large gathering and celebration activities will be delayed until the epidemic is under control or be simplified or downsized according to the golden rule of “epidemic prevention the first”. It is especially so for pilgrimage walk, which is known as one of Taiwan’s traditional folklore celebration: Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the County Government highlighted the needs of making an adjustment thereto, such as shortening the worship ritual and reducing the crowd; and the must for followers who participate in related activities to ensure their self-management, frequently wash hands, wear a facial mask and keep a distance away from the crowd to minimize the infection risk.

The Department further expressed that none of the religious activities should become a loophole in epidemic prevention. Therefore, religious groups that desire to hold celebration shall not only proactively conduct epidemic prevention measures, but also think about delaying or suspending religious activities to prevent epidemic spread. With respect to the incoming “Mazu Pilgrimage Activity” in March, a loophole in epidemic prevention can be created thereby as this crowded event usually takes place for a number of days. This is the reason that the County Government continuously urges religious groups to suspend large religious activities or make an adjustment thereto; and has received supports therefrom. Besides, the County Government also requested religious groups or leaders thereof to inform or urge their members to support the government’s epidemic prevention policy, such as suspending activities that involve a crowd of people, intensive interpersonal contacts or long hours; or re-evaluating the necessity of holding related activities based on the epidemic situation.