ISCAST Fellow D. Gareth Jones has written an article regarding Christian concerns surrounding COVID-19 vaccines.
The article was originally published in Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, the journal of the American Scientific Affiliation.
In the midst of the debate about vaccines against COVID-19 and vaccine mandates, there are a surprisingly large number of concerns coming from some churches centring on the dependence of some of the vaccines on historic abortions and limitations of freedom of choice. Although the ethical significance of separation between historic abortions and the vaccines has been widely accepted by most religious authorities, the pandemic has led to renewed concern by some. The emergence of vaccine mandates, with their potential negative impact on church attendance, has led some to oppose anything that would limit freedom of choice. Within this opposition is a medley of other messages, such as lack of trust in experts and human rights violations. Some regard vaccine passports as a form of “medical apartheid” or “therapeutic totalitarianism,” coercing people’s conscience. A countervailing perspective is provided by most church organisations that take a far more communitarian view based upon Jesus’ teachings, identification with the poor and marginalised, and public health considerations. These Christians place far greater store on science as a gift from God, medical science as a means of transforming societies for good, and the potential of vaccines to control a rampant pandemic. Flexibility in imposing vaccine mandates is essential with onus placed on protecting the vulnerable, the community, and directed by the biblical precept of love for one’s neighbour.