We’ve spoken about a former believer in Christ, Ryan Bell, who switched off his belief in God for a year. Once a Seventh Day Adventist Pastor, he made the decision to go without God for a year. With the completion of the “year without God” experiment, he became a committed atheist. Everything that happened before, during and after carrying on with his life without God, he spoke about and documented in his blog, Year Without God. Ryan, at the end of the year, said, “I don’t think that God exists”. Today’s discussion revolves around the opposite of that, an atheist who’s accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior.
Cassidy Kellagher, “extreme atheist, extreme vegan, “pansexual” and honestly just an egotistic, terrible person.” In June 2019, after getting a really bad stomach ache for a week it was confirmed by doctors that she had Crohn’s disease. With this revelation, Kellagher went from being the party girl who handed out Veggie Dogs in a lettuce bikini to Senators at the Capitol to the girl in extreme pain, unable to use the bathroom by herself. Cassidy, in three months, lost 60 pounds. Then, when the pain became a daily occurrence, to the point where food and even water hurt to consume, it was then she craved death. This was simply because she wouldn’t feel the pain she’d been feeling for six months.
On Christmas Eve of that year, 2019, she fell ill and the only solution was to pump her with medicine. However, it proved pointless as her body wasn’t responding favorably to it and the pain continued. Then according to her account, a Jamaican woman who she didn’t know came into her room and checked if she was hungry or thirsty. Denying both, with tears streaming down her face, the woman demanded to pray for her. The unknown woman put her hand on Cassidy’s forehead and prayed while Cassidy tried to protest as she was indeed an atheist. The words “You will be healed and you will heal” were said to Kellagher who went to sleep that night anticipating death but to her utter surprise, awoke the following morning pain-free. To her questioning and in shock doctors, with her ability to now walk, when they inquired about it she said to them that in her there was “a light”. That morning made her an immediate believer in God.
Cassidy, like many people; turns to or leans on God during life-changing events, especially ones where death is a potential visitor. In the face of the Bubonic Plague, AIDS and even recently, Covid-19, whenever there’s an outbreak of diseases that forces people to their knees, religion is heavily leaned on. It’s often sought after for both explanations of the diseases and looked to for solutions to rid it from the population. In 2020, research was conducted and revealed that two-thirds of Americans believe that Covid-19 was sent as a warning from God. That is, 55% of Americans such as Lance Dejesus of Dallastown, believe that Coronavirus came with a message. “It could be a sign, like ‘hey, get your act together’ – I don’t know,” said Dejesus, 52, who said he believes in God but doesn’t consider himself religious. “It just seems like everything was going in an OK direction and all of a sudden you get this Coronavirus thing that happens to pop out of nowhere.” Also, there are those who believe that they will be protected from the wrath of the virus by God himself as he’d be preventing them from becoming infected. At the height or beginning of the Coronavirus, despite the country commencing lockdown on March 15th, 2020 a woman outside of her church a month later stated that “I wouldn’t be anywhere else. I’m covered in Jesus’ blood. All these people go to this church. They could get me sick but they’re not because I’m covered in his blood.”
Last year, The Conversation reported that “Organized religion has been on the decline for decades in the United States. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers found that online searches for the word “prayer” soared to their highest level ever in over 90 countries. And a 2020 Pew Research study showed that 24% of U.S. adults stated their faith had become stronger during the pandemic.”
The Conversation nods to some making the argument as a result of great suffering, logically, people should turn into atheists. For example, with reference to the Covid-19 pandemic, folks questioned God asking how it’s being allowed, it being the collective suffering and misfortune of the world. According to them, “trauma challenges so many assumptions about who we are, what our purpose is and how to make sense of a traumatic event. Faith-based beliefs and practices offer meaningful resources to help navigate those questions. This is why spiritual beliefs and practices across various religions can often lead to faith strengthening rather than weakening following a trauma.” That, despite not having the usual level of access to places of worship during the 2020 portion of the pandemic, still accessible to the public were spiritual resources that played a big role in navigating life during traumatic events. With this new reality, folks have confessed that their faith is stronger than it was before Covid-19.
So the concluding question is this, do people become more religious in times of crisis? Well, an excerpt from a post on The Conversation states that “during the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers found that online searches for the word “prayer” soared to their highest level ever in over 90 countries. And a 2020 Pew Research study showed that 24% of U.S. adults stated their faith had become stronger during the pandemic.