Two well-known evangelical leaders are encouraging Christians to reject conspiracy theories and to embrace the COVID-19 vaccine, calling it “consistent with a pro-life ethic” and an example of God’s “common grace.”
Russell D. Moore and Walter Kim, in a column they co-wrote for the Washington Post, addressed some evangelicals’ hesitancy to receive the vaccine. Moore is president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, while Kim is president of the National Association of Evangelicals.
“The vaccines are a cause for Christians to rejoice and to give glory to God,” Moore and Kim wrote. “The Bible, after all, speaks of medicine as a common grace, discovered by human beings but given by God. The Apostle Paul prescribed wine for Timothy’s stomach ailments (1 Timothy 5:23), probably recognizing the disinfecting properties of wine in settling the stomach and preventing dysentery. Vaccination, likewise, is a preventive measure, except that in this case the prevention is not simply for the one taking the vaccine but for the entire community.”
By getting vaccinated, they assert, Christians “can actively work for what we have been praying for – churches filled with people, hugs in the church foyer, and singing loudly together the hymns we love.”
Moore and Kim address concerns some evangelicals have about the vaccine. The vaccines, they wrote, were not made “through cells from abortions.” Although they did not mention any specific vaccines, the Pfizer and Modern vaccines have been labeled “ethically uncontroversial” by the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute.
“We agree with Pope Francis and leading bioethicists from across the religious spectrum that the use of these vaccines is not only consistent with a pro-life ethic, but is itself a recognition of the value of protecting life — especially that of vulnerable elderly and those with compromised immune systems,” Moore and Kim wrote.
The two leaders also pushed back on conspiracy theories.
“Some have found on their social media feeds or in their email inboxes articles by anti-vaccine activists making wild and unsubstantiated claims about the dangers of the coronavirus vaccine,” Moore and Kim wrote. “Others have seen even more bizarre claims, such as that Bill Gates is seeking to implant microchips of the Book of Revelation’s mark of the beast into our bloodstreams. The net result is often that even those who are not given to conspiracy theorizing can just assume that seeing so many alarms about vaccines ought to make one wary. After all, most people do not have medical expertise to answer every floated claim.
“These conspiracy theories, however, are not rooted in reality,” they wrote. “Indeed, many of them come from the same sources that previously told us that the coronavirus itself was a hoax or, even worse, a ‘plandemic’ mapped out by the government for some purpose or another. These sources told us that no more would die from COVID than from the seasonal flu or that after the presidential election we would hear no more about COVID or social distancing or masking. These claims were demonstrated to be false, and the dark claims about the vaccines are, too.”
Getting vaccinated, they argue, is an example of loving your neighbor.
“We can express our love for neighbor — especially the sick and elderly — by reducing the chance that we might inadvertently pass along a virus that could kill them,” they wrote. “The men on the rooftop took a risk of, at best, looking like fools or, at worst, falling through an unstable roof. But they loved their friend and wanted to get him to Jesus. We don’t need to make ropes or tear up roof tiles to love our friends and neighbors. All we are asked to do is to get a shot.”
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.