Many religious services can spread disease, such as hepatitis

chalice by Violette79

Those dirty, filthy Catholic practices
[Via Pharyngula]

Standing in line to swap fluids and disease by swilling from the same cup was going to get someone in trouble, eventually — and now it’s happened. Catholics in New York have been exposed to hepatitis A through sharing Jesus’ blood.

All the practitioners have been asked to get tested and vaccinated right away.

[More]

The linked article discussing the 1300 people who were possibly exposed is what is important, not the pejorative title or many of the comments. It raises some troubling questions about drinking from communal chalices.

While raised Catholic following Vatican II, I have always been aghast at the idea of drinking from a communal chalice. I have heard anecdotal information about the risks but now we can see why this may not be a good idea. We would never drink from a glass that hundreds of others had drunk from if we were at a picnic. But few give it much consideration in Church.

Catholics are not the only ones who use communal drinking during the services. And they allow someone to fully partake of Communion by only taking the Host. Drinking the wine is not a requirement. In Eastern Orthodox services, they directly transfer the sacred material – both the Host and wine – from the chalice to the supplicant’s mouth, which would seem to be an avenue for even greater transfer of disease. At least the Lutherans offer individual plastic cups.