COVID-19 vaccine mandates are a repulsive assault upon the basic liberties of anyone who prefers not to take the vaccine, but as a pastor I would like to focus on the threat to the freedom of conscience of Christians in this matter.
One of the great themes of the New Testament, particularly in the book of Revelation, is the conflict between the true church and the all-embracing power of the State, which in the first century world took the form of the Roman Empire. In November AD 64 the Emperor Nero began a violent anti-Christian persecution which would last for three and a half years. At the heart of this persecution was the imperial claim to divinity.
Many might be thinking, What on earth does this have to do with the situation in 21st-century Britain? The connection is this: the State now thinks that it is all-wise and can demand an allegiance which is bordering on worship. The Government is claiming: We are taking the advice of our scientific advisers, and this means that we know what is best for you and your life. If you dare to deny the advice we give you, you are a dangerous rebel and heretic who must be punished.
It is frightening arrogance for a Government to presume to possess authority over individuals’ personal medical decisions, to the extent of throwing them out of their work if they fail to comply. For the Christian, however, his medical choices are primarily an issue between him and God.
Some NHS nurses attend my church. There exists a grave concern and a deep sense of injustice about the Government’s plans to make having the Covid vaccination a condition of employment. How dare the Government attempt to overrule a Christian’s exercise of his God-given conscience in respect of whether or not to be vaccinated? This is also a shameful way of treating loyal staff who have been serving the NHS during the difficulties of the past two years. Why is it that they are deemed good enough to help the NHS through the winter months, but not to carry on in employment after this April?
To dismiss NHS staff because they have chosen not to be vaccinated represents a shocking waste of experience, training and talent. Does the NHS have such an excess of qualified personnel that it can cope with the sudden departure of so many?
What about staff who have mortgages? Are they to be sacrificed to teach them a lesson for not conforming to the mainstream, politically correct narrative?
How will it benefit patients or society in general for immediate staff shortages to be imposed upon the NHS in this arbitrary way?
For many Christians working within the NHS, dealing with these issues surrounding the Covid vaccine cannot be divorced from their Christian walk generally, because there is no area of life where the believer does not seek to honour God.
The Government, therefore, must face up to the fact that there are Christians who firmly believe that it would be wrong before the Lord to be vaccinated. Many have genuine conscientious objections, not because they are ‘anti-vaxx’, but precisely because the nature of the Covid vaccine is that it is novel, experimental and still at the stage of its clinical trials. I vigorously argue that there should be no vaccine mandates at all, but if they are to exist there must also be a specific religious exemption in place.
Many Christians also have a problem with the fact that the Covid vaccine is not a traditional vaccine at all, but is rather a genetic device designed to produce within the body a toxic ‘spike protein’. This is viewed by many as a step too far in interfering with our wonderful God-designed immune systems.
Many also have a moral objection to the Covid vaccines because of their connection with an aborted foetal cell line at the development and testing stages. My point here is not to initiate any debate about abortion, but simply to stress that a connection with abortion in respect of all the available UK vaccines creates an enormous ethical and moral problem for many Christians.
The Government, therefore, must abandon its plans to impose a vaccine mandate upon NHS staff. I would also advocate the basic civil liberty of Christians and all others who decide not to take the vaccine to carry on working in their chosen environment, be it in the care home sector or anywhere else. Furthermore, our leaders must pay far more attention to the value and effectiveness of each individual’s God-given natural immune system in dealing with the virus. There must be respect for the Christian’s liberty to act according to his or her own conscience before the Lord. Our political leaders need reminding: the State and its experts are not our God.