Religious Exemptions and the COVID Vaccine

Vaccine mandates have arrived, and so have questions about religious exemptions. What should Christians think about them? I’ll provide one over-arching principle, then briefly discuss some common religious justifications we see offered up.

A warning

The Third Commandment tells us we must not misuse God’s name (Ex 20:7; Deut 5:11). One way we do this is when we invoke God as an authority to justify something we want to do. I want to do something, so I use God as a blank check, and I get my free pass. But … did God really say that?

People misuse God’s name for all sorts of sins. To justify divorce in unwarranted circumstances, sexual immorality, sexual confusion, gender identity, and the like. Look anywhere, and you’ll find professing Christians using God as justification for their unholy ways. This is a violation of the Third Commandment.

Now we come to religious exemptions for vaccines. You must think carefully, very carefully, about why you object to the vaccine. If you’re using God as a free pass to escape a vaccine mandate, then you’re violating the Third Commandment.

You may object and cite an abortion connection, freedom of conscience, and the like. Fair enough―we’ll get there. But ask yourself, “Is [insert religious justification] really why I don’t want the vaccine, or is [insert religious justification] a convenient pass for me to avoid something I just don’t want to do?” If the answer is yes, then you’re in danger of violating the Third Commandment.

As a well-known news anchor once said, that’s “kind of a big deal.” You don’t want to do that. Now, to the religious justifications themselves.

The Abortion Objection

This is perhaps the strongest religious exemption of the lot. Some Christians claim the various COVID vaccines have a connection to abortion. Various news outlets explain this connection is distant and far removed, and that the vaccines themselves don’t contain fetal tissue. Still, some Christians find this horrifying. Here is a representative example from a professing Christian, quoted in the New York Times:  

My freedom and my children’s freedom and children’s children’s freedom are at stake,” said Ms. Holmes, who lives in Indiana. In August, she submitted an exemption request she wrote herself, bolstered by her own Bible study and language from sources online. Some vaccines were developed using fetal cell lines from aborted fetuses, she wrote, citing a remote connection to a practice she finds abhorrent. She quoted a passage from the New Testament: “Let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit.”[1]

The Louisiana Attorney General provides a sample exemption letter with an identical objection.[2] Back to the New York Times article―note that this woman fronts her remarks with a discussion of “freedom.” Also, notice that she apparently didn’t consult her faith community about the veracity of her religious objection. Instead, she did independent study and looked up “sources online.” She then quotes 2 Corinthians 7 out of context and assumes a vaccine will “contaminate” her. As Michael Bird would say, “sweet mother of Melchisedec!”  

But, this woman isn’t you. Perhaps you have a more sophisticated form of this objection. Fair enough.

Back to the Third Commandment.

I want to ask you to re-ask that same question again―does this distant abortion connection really outrage you, or is it just a “get out of jail free” card you’re willing to use? Please think very carefully before answering this question. One way to be introspective here is to consider whether you were already against the vaccine before you learned about the abortion nexus.

Body as a temple

Proponents cite the Apostle Paul’s well-known remarks at 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, 6:19. One organization, called Health Freedom Idaho, published a sample exemption letter on its website that used this objection and cited these passages. It read, in part:

Accordingly I believe, pursuant to my Christian faith, that my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. It is a God-given responsibility and requirement for me to protect the physical integrity of my Body against unclean food and injections.[3]

Again, this does violence to the text. First, Paul’s remarks about the body as a temple were directed to the Corinthian church as a body, as a whole―the “you are God’s temple” is plural! So, he is not referring to you as an individual at all. Second, the sample letter mistakenly interprets the temple motif to refer to physical pollution to one’s body, when Paul is in fact interjecting a rhetorical question (an accusation, really) about sins that may destroy their community (“the temple”), among which Christ resides.

This objection has no interpretive merit.

It’s a sin to do what I don’t want to do

The Liberty Counsel is a Christian legal ministry. It also provides a sample religious exemption letter on its website. This letter manages to encapsulate peak narcissism with its interpretive method:

It is against my faith and my conscience to commit sin. Sin is anything that violates the will of God, as set forth in the Bible, and as impressed upon the heart of the believer by the Holy Spirit. In order to keep myself from sin, and receive God’s direction in life, I pray and ask God for wisdom and direction daily. As part of my prayers, I have asked God for direction regarding the current COVID shot requirement. As I have prayed about what I should do, the Holy Spirit has moved on my heart and conscience that I must not accept the COVID shot. If I were to go against the moving of the Holy Spirit, I would be sinning and jeopardizing my relationship with God and violating my conscience.[4]

According to this letter, if the Spirit “has moved” you then you have a free pass―presumably about anything. This is absurd. Christianity is not a subjective religion with scripture that shape-shifts according to taste, like an Etch-a-Sketch. God gave us His word. That word has content. That content has meaning that can be known and understood in community with the brotherhood of faith in your local congregation, and in consultation with the Great Tradition of brothers and sisters who have gone before.

This definition of sin is also specious. Sin is lawlessness (1 Jn 3:4); doing what God’s Word forbids. The author wishes to make sin Play-Dough; it’s anything the Holy Spirit “impresses upon” him to be wrong. Sin isn’t concrete anymore, it’s subjective.

This kind of bible interpretation can justify anything, and it’s dangerous.

Freedom of conscience

This objection has a strong siren song, but is harder to justify than it seems. A Christian must have a rational basis for claiming a conscience objection. If food is sacrificed to demons, then that’s a pretty good reason to avoid eating it (1 Cor 8). You get it. You can “see” the problem.

What is the conscience issue with the vaccine? It isn’t enough to hold to some form of, “I don’t like it, so it violates my conscience, so I don’t have to do it.” That’s never been how responsible Christians have interacted with society. Health Freedom Idaho offers this attempt:

… the New Testament requires of Christians that we, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Mark 12:17). When it comes to consuming things into our own bodies, as opposed to make payments to government, compliance with God’s law is required. The mandated vaccine, with its numerous additives and its mechanism for altering my body, is the equivalent of a prohibited “unclean food” that causes harm to my conscience. Vaccines to me are unclean. I believe in and follow God and the principles laid out in His Word and I have a deeply held belief that vaccines violate them.[5]

This objection says very little. It is scarcely believable that unclean foods under the Old Covenant are a parallel to a COVID vaccine. As just a preliminary step to justify this argument one would have to establish a basis for the division of clean and unclean foods, and I wish you luck as you survey the literature on that topic! The author provides no justification about why the vaccine violates his conscience. He just asserts it as a “deeply held belief.” That isn’t good enough. Some people have a “deeply held belief” that Arbys makes good roast beef sandwiches. That don’t make it so …

God doesn’t require it

This is a novel interpretation. The New York Times reports the following:

In rural Hudson, Iowa, Sam Jones has informed his small congregation at Faith Baptist Church that he is willing to provide them with a four-paragraph letter stating that “a Christian has no responsibility to obey any government outside of the scope that has been designated by God.”[6]

This argument is a non-starter. God hasn’t mandated seatbelts, either. Nor the Bill of Rights. The pastor owes it to his congregation to provide a more robust argument than this. If he has one, hit didn’t make it into the news article.

Christians shouldn’t be afraid

This is a well-meaning but sad argument. Its logical end is to eschew all medical aid in toto. The New York Times related the following:

Threatened with a formal reprimand if she skipped work in protest, Ms. Holmes woke up in the middle of the night with a Bible verse from the book of 2 Timothy in her mind: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”[7]

The Liberty Counsel also rallied to the cause by declaring Christians have a religious exemption because they have “… a reliance upon God’s protection consistent with Psalm 91.”[8]

2 Timothy 1:7 has nothing to do with rejecting all medical aid, nor does Psalm 91. It’s a symptom of what Scot McKnight has described as a puzzle piece hermeneutic rather than a contextual reading of the bible as a story. If a man cheats on his wife, can he cite 2 Timothy 1:12 (“I am not ashamed …”) and declare he has nothing to apologize for? Why not? It’s in the bible!

Final words

There may well be valid religious exemptions out there from a Christian perspective. Those cited here are largely specious; arguments in search of proof-texts. The abortion connection has the most merit, but I again caution believers to avoid misusing God’s name and violating the Third Commandment.

One Christian named Curtis Chang, who is a former pastor, wrote what Yosemite Sam would consider to be fightin’ words:

Christians who request religious exemptions rarely even try to offer substantive biblical and theological reasoning. Rather, the drivers for evangelical resistance are nonreligious and are rooted in deep-seated suspicion of government and vulnerability to misinformation.

Perhaps this goes too far. But, it is true for too many Christians. Maybe that isn’t you. Maybe you do have objective religious grounds―what are they? What have your pastors said? What has your faith community said? What has the global church said? Are your objections really grounded in the scripture, or are they a prop for some very non-religious reasons?

Only you know the answer.


1 Ruth Graham, “Vaccine Resisters Seek Religious Exemptions. But What Counts as Religious?” New York Times, 11 September 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/11/us/covid-vaccine-religion-exemption.html?smid=url-share.  

2 Retrieved from http://ladoj.ag.state.la.us/Article/10941.

3 Health Freedom Idaho, “Sample Letter for Religious Vaccine Exemption,” https://healthfreedomidaho.org/sample-letter-for-religious-vaccine-exemption/.

4 Liberty Counsel, “Sample Religious Exemption Requests For COVID Shot Mandates,” 26 July 2021, p. 3. https://lc.org/Site%20Images/Resources/Memo-SampleCOVID-ReligiousExemptionRequests-07262021.pdf.

5 Health Freedom Idaho, “Sample Letter.”  

6 Graham, “Religious Exemptions.”

7 Ibid.  

8 Liberty Counsel, “Sample Exemption” p. 1.

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There are 27 Comments

T Howard's picture

I agree. Claiming a religious exemption to the covid vaccine is not only asinine but it also weakens true religious exemption claims over legit issues for believers.

If you don't want the vaccine then put on your big boy pants and take the consequences instead of blaming God for not getting the vaccine.

dgszweda's picture

The abortion exemption, in my mind used to be the strongest, but what you are finding is that:

  1. Some vaccines are no longer connected to aborted fetal cells
  2. The cells used today are in some cases 15,000 generations away from the aborted cells themselves
  3. Practically every major anti-abortion groups have not raised concerns with the current vaccines and all provide recommendations to take the vaccine

The other exemptions, I agree, are very weak at this point.

dgszweda's picture

Could there be a point that vaccines are a gift of God?  A sign of common grace?  God didn't just order us to subdue the earth.  He created the earth and man in such a way that man's responsibility and unique capabilities are to subdue the creation.  Yes, sin has tainted this, but the mandate that God gave permeated the creation in the design.  While sin has allowed creation to kick back, man still has the ultimately ability and responsibility to subdue it.  Man will conquer nature.  But, he must also treat it with respect and care for it.

So when sin through creation creates a virus, man has been given the ability not to just sit back in faith and wait for God, God gave him the wisdom, physical capabilities and the ability to "create" to subdue the virus.

RajeshG's picture

Body as a temple

Proponents cite the Apostle Paul’s well-known remarks at 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, 6:19. One organization, called Health Freedom Idaho, published a sample exemption letter on its website that used this objection and cited these passages. It read, in part:

Accordingly I believe, pursuant to my Christian faith, that my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. It is a God-given responsibility and requirement for me to protect the physical integrity of my Body against unclean food and injections.[3]

Again, this does violence to the text. First, Paul’s remarks about the body as a temple were directed to the Corinthian church as a body, as a whole―the “you are God’s temple” is plural! So, he is not referring to you as an individual at all. Second, the sample letter mistakenly interprets the temple motif to refer to physical pollution to one’s body, when Paul is in fact interjecting a rhetorical question (an accusation, really) about sins that may destroy their community (“the temple”), among which Christ resides.

This objection has no interpretive merit.

You are right that in 1 Cor. 3, Paul is speaking of the Corinthians as a whole as the temple.

In 6:19-20, however, it is clear that the individual bodies of believers is in view. I have never seen an interpreter who has argued that 1 Cor. 6:19-20 is talking about the Corinthians collectively as the temple. Here is an example of how every interpreter that I have ever looked at handles the passage:
 

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost,.... What is said in 1 Corinthians 3:16 of the saints in general, is here said of their bodies in particular. The Holy Spirit, in regeneration and sanctification, when he begins the good work of grace on a man, takes possession of his whole person, soul and body, and dwells therein as in his temple. So the Jews (o) call the body of a righteous man the "habitation" of the Holy Spirit. Now it is most abominably scandalous and shameful that that body, which is the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, which is sacred to him as a temple, should be defiled by the sin of fornication: it is added,

which is in you, which ye have of God; meaning the Holy Spirit which was in them, as in his temple; which dwelt in their hearts, and influenced their bodies, lives, and conversations; and which they received of God as a wonderful instance of his grace and love to them; that he should be bestowed upon them, to regenerate, renew, and sanctify them, to implant every grace, to make them a fit habitation for God, and meet for the inheritance of the saints in light:

and ye are not your own: their own masters, at their own dispose, to live to their own lusts, or the lusts of men; men have not power over their bodies to abuse them at pleasure by fornication, or such like uncleanness, neither single nor married persons; see 1 Corinthians 7:4 and of all men, not the saints, who are neither their own nor other men's, nor Satan's, but God's; not only by creation, but by choice and covenant; and Christ's by gift, by purchase, and powerful grace, and in a conjugal relation to him; wherefore fornication ill becomes them.

There may be people that think that Paul is talking about the Corinthians as a whole in this passage, but that is the wrong interpretation.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Agree that if we want to preach "body is a temple," the text is 1 Cor. 6:19. 

But "body is a temple" actually argues for vaccination. I'm reminded of an old public service ad campaign long ago that emphasized "stop, drop, and roll" if you find yourself on fire. Seems kind of funny to me now... like people are catching on fire all the time. But anyway, imagine this argument...

  • I religiously object to 'stop, drop, and roll' because falling on the ground harms my body and my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit

The situation isn't precisely parallel, but the similarities are interesting. How about this one...

  • I religiously object to wearing a seatbelt because the belt chafes my skin and my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit

One more and I'll quit beating this to death...

  • I religiously object to wearing a life preserver when I go canoeing because lugging that thing along causes undue fatigue and my body is a temple... and besides, there are studies that question the effectiveness of life vests... and besides, I know how to swim.

On a more serious note, what deeply concerns me these days isn't the loss of religious liberty in the COVID measures, but the loss of religious liberty that will result from abuse of that liberty. What we're doing (using "we" loosely here) is increasing our rapidly secularizing society's aversion to Christianity even as we win court battles here and there.  Some of those battles are important and worth fighting. Many are not, and every ridiculous fight over an spurious religious objection does more harm to religious liberty than many measures from secularists.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

josh p's picture

Aaron, I am generally "pro-vax" but I don't think these comparisons work. A seatbelt and a life preserver are worn on the outside of the body and are visible. Likewise, putting out a fire on one's body is obviously helpful to one's "temple." Injecting something into your body that you don't fully understand is a different case. I think that there needs to be room given to those who are just plain ignorant about vaccines. I had to do a lot of reading to understand mRNA and I still think I barely understand it. The average American has a 7th-8th grade reading level. It would take many people (say those in the lowest 25% quartile) an incredible amount of work to understand if the vaccines are harmful or not. Couple that with the massive disinformation peddled at their reading level and I can understand why many refuse. 
 

I once had a friend who was a believer in my church. He was a very intelligent man who nevertheless was poorly educated. He explained he wasn't getting the flu shot because he read about it "and they put like three kinds of junks in your arm." Should that person be scorned because he couldn't fully understand the science? Before you say, "he doesn't need to; just trust the experts", how does he know which ones to believe when the internet is telling him that many experts think it's harmful? 

josh p's picture

There are also those who are highly educated who refuse to get vaccinated. Even some who are knowledgeable about vaccines. I just think we need to be careful not to be too critical of those who choose not to be vaccinated. 

dgszweda's picture

josh p wrote:
 Injecting something into your body that you don't fully understand is a different case. I think that there needs to be room given to those who are just plain ignorant about vaccines.

I think the frustration that is out there, and maybe it isn't directed at this individual, is the lies that are posted out there and the ignorance that people have in trying to discern truth.  The biggest thing we can do to those in our church is to help them understand how to discern truth.  I think it is 44% of white evangelicals have stated that they will not get the vaccine.  The reasons?  Essentially all of the conspiracy theories.  3 in 5 white evangelicals believe that the election was stolen, despite absolutely no proof of it.  I know there are legitimate concerns, but there is plenty of information to address those concerns, if people understood how to navigate that.

I know that people are concerned about what they put into the body.  But often these are the same people eating Big Macs and chugging soda.  Or loading their plates up in the church luncheon.  They are concerned with what they put in their bodies, but they are taking 5 different medications, with very little understanding of what they do, just what the doctor has told them.  The difference is that you don't have people screaming that blood pressure medication has computer chips, aborted fetal cells, changes your DNA, safety was skipped.....  So the noise is quiet and the only noise they hear is their doctor, or maybe no noise at all.

Injecting something intramuscularly is significant safer than ingesting a medicine.  The injection stays at the site, doesn't move around the body, doesn't get stored in the liver, doesn't build up in the body....  The truth is out there but people have become deceived.  I have family members in that camp.  If it doesn't come from Tucker Carlson or Hannity than it is biased media and we can't listen to it.  If that is their only source of news and everything else is tainted, than it becomes quick to understand why there is so much misinformation.

This noise is going to grow and increase.  Scripture states that there will come false prophets, who will be strong deceivers, so much so that if it were possible the very elect would fall away.  I think this disinformation that is just exploding is a precursor to what is coming for the church.  And I am not so sure the church is acting properly toward it today.

josh p's picture

"I know there are legitimate concerns, but there is plenty of information to address those concerns, if people understood how to navigate that." 

Right but they don't. 
 

Regarding medications- in most cases they've been around a while. But since you brought it up, I have a friend who refuses to take a certain BP med since his friend starting showing signs of dementia shortly after starting it. Supposedly that's actually a known side effect but who knows. In most cases, meds are not "new" to the user as the vaccines are. People are unfortunately suspicious of new things. 
 

"The truth is out there but people have become deceived."

I would not say that they are unable to process the data out there. In some cases it's deception but, in many cases, it's a lack of education. In still rarer cases (it seems like) there is a risk/reward calculation that causes them to skip it. 

RajeshG's picture

https://www.frc.org/updatearticle/20210916/vaccine-mandate

From this article:
 

Of course, the great irony, Brnovich pointed out, is that even if Biden had that authority, it's a violation of the equal protection clause, because he's not forcing illegal immigrants to get vaccinated. "But if you're a federal employee, if you're a marshal, a Border Patrol agent, wherever you work, you have to get it. And we think that not only violates the equal protection clause, but it's just fundamentally wrong."

dgszweda's picture

RajeshG wrote:

https://www.frc.org/updatearticle/20210916/vaccine-mandate

From this article:
 

Of course, the great irony, Brnovich pointed out, is that even if Biden had that authority, it's a violation of the equal protection clause, because he's not forcing illegal immigrants to get vaccinated. "But if you're a federal employee, if you're a marshal, a Border Patrol agent, wherever you work, you have to get it. And we think that not only violates the equal protection clause, but it's just fundamentally wrong."

I just don't get these arguments.  If they are legal, they have been processed at the border, given a court date and potentially released into the US.  If they are illegal, they evaded Customs and Border Agents, entered the country through an illegal passageway (tunnel, desert, swam....).  So if they illegally entered the country and they are illegaly within the country, than how is Biden going to force the illegal immigrants to get vaccinated.  The goal is not to vaccinate illegal immigrants, it is to remove them from the country.  this is just stupid FoxNews stuff where they call anyone who enters who is not a citizen an illegal immigrant.

Second if the immigrant has entered the US, has lawful entry, but does not have a right to work yet as they are waiting for their immigration status to be updated, than they along with every other US citizen who is not employed are not required to be vaccinated.  Therefore it is not an equal protection clause issue.

Third if the immigrant has entered the US, has lawful entry, and has been processed appropriately with the correct visa status and has a right to work in the US, then they will fall under the OSHA guidelines that are being developed and will be vaccinated in accordance to those guidelines just as with every other worker at that company.

Lastly, 

T Howard's picture

To be clear, stating you don't want to get the vaccine because your body is the temple of God is ludicrous. As has been already mentioned, we ingest all sorts of unhealthy foods and beverages without blinking an eye. We take pharmaceuticals (over the counter or prescription) all the time without pulling the "temple of God" card, and we have no idea what is in them that makes them work. The "temple of God" objection is not a matter of conscience, it's cowardice. If you don't want to get the vaccine, that's your choice. But, be a man and face the consequences for your decision. More importantly, stop blaming God for your moronic decisions.

Also, whataboutism continues with arguments like, more people would get the vaccine if Biden didn't let thousands of unvaccinated migrants enter the country. So, you and your family are going to risk unnecessary hospitalization and death because Juan Pablo crossed the border without getting a vaccine? That makes absolutely no sense.

dgszweda's picture

T Howard wrote:

we have no idea what is in them that makes them work. The "temple of God" objection is not a matter of conscience, it's cowardice.

I am pro-drugs, and worked in the pharma industry for nearly 20 years.  With that said, many people might be surprised at the number of drugs that are in the marketplace that we have no clarity around what makes them work.  The biggest class of drugs that are an exemplar of this is the CNS class (or Central Nervous System).  An example would be drugs around depression.  We know they have a therapeutic affect.  This class of drugs impact dopamine and seratonin.  There is absolutely no way to measure the impact of the drug has on dopamine and seratonin in the brain.  So chemically we know that it impacts these levels in a lab.  We don't know chemically how they impact a human, but we can see behavorially that they have an impact.  Essentially we are hoping they have an impact and the side effects are not too bad, because in general CNS drugs don't have great side effects.  We just hope the behavior improvements are better than the side effects that practically everyone faces.

I also think that many people would be surprised at the number of drugs in the marketplace that are barely statistically better than a placebo.  The thinking is that something is better than nothing.

I also think that many people would be surprised at the how rapid the placebo affect is getting better.  It is a challenge that a lot of pharma companies are having to deal with.  Placebo's over the last two decades have increasingly gotten better during Clinical Trials.  In some cases the placebo's are having a more profound affect than the drug that is being tested.  It was a challenge that we and many other pharma companies have.

I think many people would be surprised that pharmacies still do compounding when directed by a doctor.  That means they mix and prepare a drug at the pharmacy.  None of these drugs have had any safety studies done, nor are they approved by the FDA.  They use FDA approved drugs, but their compounded has never been tested and approved.

I would gather that most Christians have no clue about these and/or what they are taking.  They may not statistically do much, we may not understand what they do, and they may not have had safety testing.  But a vaccine that does not reside in the body, has a significant statistical advantage, has had 20 years of testing, the biochemical functions are well understood and can be studied in real living people, are extremely safe, are manufactured in controlled environments regulated by laws and has been distributed to almost 50% of the world's population is considered "quack" science.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

josh p wrote:

(it seems like) there is a risk/reward calculation that causes them to skip it. 

Some of us definitely are making a calculation as to risk/reward.  I understand I don't have *every* fact at my disposal, but I try to make as good a calculation as I can and stick by it, until or unless I see evidence that makes me reevaluate it.  I'm not claiming religious or conspiracy reasons, and I'm not considering them as part of my calculation.

dgszweda wrote:

I would gather that most Christians have no clue about these and/or what they are taking.  They may not statistically do much, we may not understand what they do, and they may not have had safety testing.  But a vaccine that does not reside in the body, has a significant statistical advantage, has had 20 years of testing, the biochemical functions are well understood and can be studied in real living people, are extremely safe, are manufactured in controlled environments regulated by laws and has been distributed to almost 50% of the world's population is considered "quack" science.

I can't speak for everyone, but I think you're being overly simplistic.  I'm educated, and I read a lot (much away from the internet), but I understand that not having worked in your field means I don't understand medicines the way those that have worked with them do.  That's one reason why I go out of my way to keep the amount of any kind of medicine I take to an absolutely minimum.  I even only take tylenol/advil/aspirin extremely rarely, let alone other medications, and I'm not on any regular medication.  I was recently prescribed a statin after a recent exam, for high (though not ridiculous) LDL, and I'm still trying to decide whether I want to start that medication or not.  I didn't just run out and get it, and I'm not going to let my doctor push me into it without a lot more thought and consideration.

You talked briefly about drugs that affect our mental state, and unless I was forced to take one of those, I would avoid ever taking one.  Your statement that they are not well-understood makes me even more suspicious than I would be of drugs that have only a physical rather than mental effect.

Even with all your knowledge about medicine, you are conveniently glossing over the fact that while the types of vaccines being used for Covid may have had 20 years of testing, the Covid vaccine definitely has not.  Until we understand better the origins of this virus, every way it may have been modified, and what it can do, I'm not convinced that even those studying it full-time have a complete handle on it.  This vaccine has only been in existence a short time, and even if you think there's almost no chance it could have long term effects, you have no proof of that, and neither does anyone else.  That definitely figures into my risk calculation, as does the fact that most vaccines have proven themselves safe over time.

This isn't just a matter of my blindly accepting every form of medical intervention except for the Covid vaccine.  Like Bert, I'm not ever going to be the first on my block to run out and get something.  I'm happy to see how things play out first (and yes, time figures into my risk calculation as well).

Dave Barnhart

Larry's picture

Moderator

I think it is 44% of white evangelicals have stated that they will not get the vaccine. 

Ironic that in a post about truth being available, this line shows up. Here are a few things to consider:

About 14% of American adults say they won't get vaccinated under any circumstances as of June, while the number is a much higher 22% among white evangelical Christians, according to a rigorous ongoing survey by KFF, the policy arm of the Kaiser Family Foundation. In fact, the 22% refusal rate was among the highest of any demographic group the foundation measured. (USNews https://www.usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2021-08-10/white-evange...).

Some 24% of white evangelicals said in June they wouldn’t be vaccinated, down from 26% in March, according to a study from the Public Religion Research Institute, a nonpartisan group that studies the intersection of religion and public life, and Interfaith Youth Core, a nonprofit focused on interfaith cooperation. ,,, The percentage of white evangelicals who say they have been vaccinated or plan to get the shot as soon as possible was 56% in June, up from 45% in March (WSJ https://www.wsj.com/articles/white-evangelicals-resist-covid-19-vaccine-...)

What does this mean? It means that a simple data point was overlooked, surely not intentionally, but even unintentionally it left an impression that isn't true. And it reflects differently on a population than reality does. So if we are going to talk about being careful with sources and data, then let's begin by being careful with sources and data. And when people say things like this, don't be surprised when people don't believe you.

That's not an attack on the poster (who I think has made some very helpful posts [while missing a few important points]). It's about the bigger picture that has been talked about all through COVID. People came out with huge numbers, great stories of impending disaster, and the like, much of which turned out to be distorted and exaggerated and some of which was known at the time to be exaggerated and distorted. 

I think the comment here is innocent and innocuous. It was just an illustration of a bigger problem: People say things that aren't true to cast an issue in a different light.

 

Larry's picture

Moderator

This seems another fundamental misunderstanding of the religious exemption (in all cases, not just this one). The conscience and religious belief belongs to the individual, not another person and not a body (church or otherwise). Why do people keep missing this? Your personal religious convictions do not sit under the judgment of others. It's biblical anthropology. 

The idea that "she apparently didn’t consult her faith community about the veracity of her religious objection" is completely off base. The faith community does not hold authority over a person's beliefs. A faith community might help someone discover them or learn to think about them, but the individual is the one who matters. I see pastors offering to sign letters of religious objection. What foolishness. I would never sign off on someone's religious convictions.

On the body as a temple argument, Tyler has missed the point of 1 Cor 6:19. While 1 Cor 3 is the church corporately, 1 Cor 6 is quite clear the individual's body. This is clear from the references to the body in terms of a stomach and food, fornication and prostitution, and sins "outside the body" vs. "sins against his own body." The context there is the individual's body.

dgszweda's picture

Larry wrote:

I think the comment here is innocent and innocuous. It was just an illustration of a bigger problem: People say things that aren't true to cast an issue in a different light.

You are right.  I stand corrected.  I made the comment, "I think", but I probably should have checked it first.

T Howard's picture

Larry wrote:

This seems another fundamental misunderstanding of the religious exemption (in all cases, not just this one). The conscience and religious belief belongs to the individual, not another person and not a body (church or otherwise). Why do people keep missing this? Your personal religious convictions do not sit under the judgment of others. It's biblical anthropology. 

The idea that "she apparently didn’t consult her faith community about the veracity of her religious objection" is completely off base. The faith community does not hold authority over a person's beliefs. A faith community might help someone discover them or learn to think about them, but the individual is the one who matters. I see pastors offering to sign letters of religious objection. What foolishness. I would never sign off on someone's religious convictions.

Larry, you've mentioned this in several threads, and I have responded to this in several threads. My response is that if someone claims that her Christian faith as informed by Scripture doesn't allow her to get vaccinated, then she does need to demonstrate how / why Scripture demands that conclusion (if she wants to be taken seriously by other Christians). She just can't pull the "God told me" card or defend her position by twisting Scripture. If so, then other Christians can rightfully disagree and dismiss her reasoning as fallacious. If you have to resort to hermeneutical gymnastics to prove God doesn't want you to get vaccinated, you've already lost, and other believers should be the first to confront you about it.

You don't get to invent your own beliefs and pass them off as Christian. I know that isn't popular, even in the church, but it's nonetheless true.

Larry's picture

Moderator

You are right.  I stand corrected.  I made the comment, "I think", but I probably should have checked it first.

That was no attack on you. I appreciate your comments here of late about the issue. 

Larry's picture

Moderator

she does need to demonstrate how / why Scripture demands that conclusion (if she wants to be taken seriously by other Christians). She just can't pull the "God told me" card or defend her position by twisting Scripture. 

I totally agree with this. My issue is two-fold:

First, calling it cowardice. A different interpretation of Scripture is not necessarily cowardice. There is a scriptural case to be made for not taking this vaccine. It might not be convincing to you or me and we can certainly have that discussion. But attributing it to cowardice is misguided and unhelpful, and in some cases not even true. Not to mention it is a bit ironic that people are insisting on the vaccine for others for fear of someone else making them sick. 

Second, a misunderstanding of religious liberty and religious conscience exemptions. They, by nature and theology, belong to the individual. No one else has to agree. We might be right or wrong, but we hold it for ourselves. 

T Howard's picture

Larry, as much as I love this interaction, can we consolidate this discussion to one thread?

RajeshG's picture

Saying that people and their positions are cowardly, moronic, etc is nothing but repeated use of ad hominem statements. Such statements have no place in the edifying speech that God requires of us.

T Howard's picture

RajeshG wrote:

Saying that people and their positions are cowardly, moronic, etc is nothing but repeated use of ad hominem statements. Such statements have no place in the edifying speech that God requires of us.

Rajesh, would you prefer I describe them as foolish (ἀνόητος) and needing to act like men (ἀνδρίζομαι)? Plenty of biblical precedent for making those remarks. Mine are no different.

RajeshG's picture

T Howard wrote:

 

RajeshG wrote:

 

Saying that people and their positions are cowardly, moronic, etc is nothing but repeated use of ad hominem statements. Such statements have no place in the edifying speech that God requires of us.

 

 

Rajesh, would you prefer I describe them as foolish (ἀνόητος) and needing to act like men (ἀνδρίζομαι)? Plenty of biblical precedent for making those remarks. Mine are no different.

Those statements were made by people (Jesus, Paul) who spoke and/or wrote under infallible and inerrant direction and filling of the Spirit. Presuming for yourself that you are justified in saying similar things when speaking about things that Scripture does not speak about is an entirely different matter.

T Howard's picture

RajeshG wrote:

 

T Howard wrote:

 

 

RajeshG wrote:

 

Saying that people and their positions are cowardly, moronic, etc is nothing but repeated use of ad hominem statements. Such statements have no place in the edifying speech that God requires of us.

 

 

Rajesh, would you prefer I describe them as foolish (ἀνόητος) and needing to act like men (ἀνδρίζομαι)? Plenty of biblical precedent for making those remarks. Mine are no different.

 

 

Those statements were made by people (Jesus, Paul) who spoke and/or wrote under infallible and inerrant direction and filling of the Spirit. Presuming for yourself that you are doing the same thing when speaking about things that Scripture does not speak at all about is an entirely different matter.

Brother, when "Christians" violate the 3rd commandment and twist Scripture, there is biblical warrant and precedent to identify them just as I have done. Jesus and Paul were actually much harsher.

Take care.

JD Miller's picture

Are you sure you are not violating the 3rd commandment in using God as your justification for condemning someone else's conscience?

JNoël's picture

Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, Novavax - HEK293 cells are not used in production of the vaccine. HEK293 cells are only used in testing to confirm antibodies are produced when the cells are exposed to the vaccine.

AstraZeneca, Johson & Johnson, and others used HEK293 cells during both development and testing, but they are not used during production.

Johnson & Johnson uses PER.C6 in production of the vaccine.

 

HEK293's origins are not absolutely clear. The likelihood of the cell line coming from an elective (immoral) abortion is extremely low, because elective abortions were illegal in The Netherlands at that time and it would have been almost impossible for the scientists who developed the HEK293 cell line to have acquired them from an elective abortion. It would have been far easier to obtain the cells from a miscarriage. There would have been no reason for them to specifically try to obtain the cells from an elective abortion. That being said, if a Christian thinks it is wrong to take a vaccine that involved a cell line that came from a miscarriage, then, logically, that Christian would also have to be against organ donor/recipient situations. I think that is where their argument would break down.

PER.C6 came from an elective (immoral) abortion at 18 weeks.

 

Logically, a Christian does not have solid ground upon which to stand to claim the non-J&J vaccines are tied to an immoral abortion. Their conscience may still bind them because it is true that no man knows for sure if HEK293 involved an immoral abortion, and we would be wrong to try to convince them otherwise. But we certainly can explain the known facts to help them understand better, especially if they are being coerced into getting a vaccine they currently believe has immoral origins.

J&J is a different story, because it does use a cell line which originated from an elective abortion - and it even uses them in production of the vaccine. If a Christian is going to feel "dirty" by being vaccinated, that's the one to avoid.

Ashamed of Jesus! of that Friend On whom for heaven my hopes depend! It must not be! be this my shame, That I no more revere His name. -Joseph Grigg (1720-1768)

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