Covid-19 Vaccine: Are Religious Leaders Turning Their Backs On Their Flocks?



Written By: Anton Sawyer


covid vaccine protest
Anthony Crider, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

When looking at the headlines about the religious response to the Covid vaccine, an immediate conclusion could be drawn. Anyone living in America reading these stories could easily deduce that anyone who professes to be of a Christ-based faith is doing everything they can to destroy the basic tenet of “being thy brother’s keeper.”


Yet when researching this story, the numbers tell a different tale. A tale where the loudest minority of a group can cause overwhelming negative responses all through the use of volume and misdirection. You see, most followers of every major faith in the country have either gotten some form of the vaccine or are planning to do so soon. There have also been religious leaders like Pope Francis coming forward questioning the disconnection between faith and science. Between these contradictions of the headlines and statements from various religious leaders, what is the reality? Have the leaders of various religious organizations across the country began a mutiny against their followers? In today’s article, we’re going to look at the statistics and realities behind the Biden vaccine mandate, the backlash from religious zealots, and what the leaders of these faiths have done in response.


In an attempt to maintain complete transparency, all research and statistical fact-checking for this article, and all articles, can be found at our site's bibliography linked here.

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There have been many back-and-forth arguments between the different news outlets as to what exactly is involved with the vaccine mandates rolled out during the summer of 2021. Some have called it the “greatest travesty of freedom in the history of America,” while some have emphatically called into question the morality of turning your back on your fellow man. As a numbers guy, I think this is the best place to start. So what are the parts to this mandate that are going to impact both healthcare workers and those in the private sector? And how dramatically is everyone going to be hit?


Overall, the mandates would cover an estimated four million federal employees and workers on government contracts. In addition, the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a rule using emergency authority to require employers with more than 100 employees to ensure their workers get vaccinated or get tested weekly. That would have an impact on some 80 million private-sector workers. It is important to note that these employees do have an option; they can get tested. They are not being forced to receive the vaccine at all, they have a choice. The choice might make them grumpy, but it’s there. Truthfully, there is another element to these requirements that will directly impact one sector of healthcare by requiring vaccines. The Department of Health and Human Services' Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have said they will further issue a rule requiring vaccinations for workers in most healthcare facilities that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement, including hospitals, dialysis centers, ambulatory surgical settings, and home health agencies—a total of about 17 million healthcare workers. These workers will be directly forced to get the vaccine. When you check the demographics of those who work in the frontlines and those who support the vaccine overall, it paints a different picture than the one being painted by those workers who feel their rights are being infringed upon ... as they are in the minority. The CMS estimated more than half of them (64% of hospital staff, 62.7% of nursing home staff, and 54.7% of workers at dialysis facilities) have already been vaccinated. It appears that those individuals who are fighting these mandates tooth-and-nail on behalf of the employees in the health world have never seen these numbers; the majority it would seem don’t want your “help.”


The other half of this headline-grabbing topic of personal freedoms versus the betterment of mankind through vaccine mandates come from those who are the first in line to tell you how to your live your life (all while yelling at the government to get out of theirs): religious zealots.


When looking at the arguments of those saying religious freedoms are being trounced nationally because of the Biden vaccine mandate, there’s something you notice immediately; most followers of Christ-based faiths don't really know the core, or "legally approved," beliefs of their own religion. Given that the interpretation of the Holy Bible can vary greatly from region to region, it’s not too surprising that personal interpretation eventually supersedes all. Vanderbilt University Medical Center released a complete list of every faith that both approves and opposes vaccines as a core tenet. Every major faith (i.e. Buddhism, Hinduism, Islamic, Judaism, etc.) believes in the vaccination of its parishioners. Christianity was broken down into the same two subsections as above with pro- and anti-vaxxers. This is where the numbers are surprising. 18 faiths support vaccines while only six oppose them. What was shocking was that almost all of those who oppose vaccines are defined as "faith healers." Denominations like Faith Tabernacle, Church Of The First Born, and End Of Time Ministry. On the other end of the spectrum, the 18 that support vaccines, are a "who's who" of Christianity. Lutheran, Episcopalian, Methodist, Quaker, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). The Roman Catholic church is also listed as being pro-needle. Yet, out of all these organizations, only the last two on that list have leadership who has come out and taken action by questioning why their followers would deny the vaccine, along with denying exemptions.


Because of how perverse the word of God has been used in the justification of personal liberty over everything else, Pope Francis had to make a comment in September questioning where this perversion has come from. “It’s a bit strange, because humanity has a history of friendship with vaccines,” Francis said, noting that children for decades have been vaccinated against measles, mumps, and polio “and no one said anything.” He hypothesized that the “virulence of uncertainty” was due to the diversity of COVID-19 vaccines, the quick approval time and the plethora of “arguments that created this division,” and fear. Significantly, Francis didn’t cite the religious objection used by some who refuse the vaccines.


The Mormons, however, have come out against the anti-vaxxers handily. As early as January of 2021, the leaders of the Mormon faith have made the church's official stance pretty clear. “In word and deed, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has supported vaccinations for generations,” the leaders wrote in the statement. “As a prominent component of our humanitarian efforts, the Church has funded, distributed and administered life-saving vaccines throughout the world. Vaccinations have helped curb or eliminate devastating communicable diseases such as: polio, diphtheria, tetanus, smallpox and measles. Vaccinations administered by competent medical professionals protect health and preserve life.” It has to be noted that the Latter-day Saints have been the only religion to step forward on this stance and back it up with action. In the same month that Pope Francis was questioning why anyone would deny vaccines, the Mormon church was denying religious exemptions for those wanting to use the faith as a justification for not taking the vaccine. Latter-day saint leaders in California were sent a letter giving explicit instructions. “No church official can sign any kind of document supporting the notion that church doctrine/teaching is opposed to vaccination or that the church is opposed to vaccination mandates,” reads the letter sent to all bishops and stake (regional) presidents from the faith’s Area Presidency. “As to the former, the opposite is true [the church not only supports but also encourages vaccination]; as to the latter, the Brethren [top officials] have not taken a position.” In some instances, the letter adds, “signing such documents could even be perjury.”


As much as I may have given the Mormons a hard time in the past, I have to give them credit for standing up to interpretations that go directly against the teachings of Christ and empathy.


These examples are just a few. There are many other elements to the different state-level mandates nationwide that run the gamut from incredibly restrictive to wide open. When it comes down to brass tacks, these exemptions should not be happening AT ALL (unless a person happens to be a member of a Dutch Reformed Congregation). It’s more than likely if someone is Christian and trying to get an exemption, that person is making things up in an attempt to try and recapture some sense of freedom that they feel has been stolen from them somehow.


If someone says they are a Christian, but doesn't trust [insert rationale here preventing getting a vaccine] and uses that as a justifier, then they're really more concerned with a personal narrative, and they are not really Christian at all. The numbers, religious leadership, and Jesus all agree.


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