In the high-stress and anxiety-filled time of navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, one light at the end of the tunnel is the approval of three COVID-19 vaccines. However, people are citing religious reasons as an excuse to not get vaccinated now more than ever, especially within Christianity.
A Pew Research survey conducted this past February found that “36% of Protestants and 22% of Catholics are unwilling to be vaccinated.” When researching subgroups of these religious backgrounds, it was found that “45% of white evangelicals and 33% of Black Protestants are unwilling.”
Many Christians may refuse to get vaccinated because some vaccines are derived from fetal cells, and abortions are often classified as "anti-Christian." All vaccines need somewhere to grow and be observed, and fetal cells are what is needed for the COVID-19 virus to be observed in a lab. However, the individual human cells used for some vaccines’ development today are not, and have never been, part of an actual human body or fetus. According to BioLogos, “there is substantial agreement among Christian theologians and ethicists that the connection to fetal cell lines should not make these vaccines off-limits for Christians.” For more information, follow this link.
Additionally, it is important to consider the teachings of Christ. There are physicians in the Bible, such as Luke, one of Jesus’ 12 disciples whom Jesus trusted. In Philippians 2:5-7, God commands His followers that, “In your relationships with another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus” by “taking the very nature of a servant” and “not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Yes, bodily autonomy is important, but Christians also need to recognize that they were created to be in community with others, which includes loving and serving each other as Christ would. In the case of COVID-19, this means getting vaccinated.
Vaccines should not be viewed as a contradiction to Christianity. Dr. A.D. Beacham, General Superintendent of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church, states, “In my view…I see [vaccines] as part of just the ability God [has] given humanity for stewardship of the earth and of ourselves. I don't see an inherent contradiction [to Christianity].” Bishop Scott Jones of the United Methodist Church says, “I think when trusted religious voices can help people accept that the vaccine is a good and Godly thing to do, that helps reach people who might not trust it from other voices in the community.”
Because God's word emphasizes loving and helping the people around us, the decision to get vaccinated can only be viewed within the lens of how it influences others. Until this happens, one cannot argue that their decision is backed by Christianity.
When you decide to file your religious exemption and use Christianity as the basis for your argument, remember that this is the reality of Christianity and vaccines. Get vaccinated now. For more vaccine information or to find where you can get vaccinated, use the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services website.
By Freya Dahlgren, Staff Writer