On Thursday three Queensland Baptist pastors published, on Cauldron Pool, a letter to our PM. It is an objection to the introduction of ‘vaccine passports’. They called the letter the ‘Ezekiel Declaration’. And their subtitle, ‘Watchmen, It’s Time To Speak’, made it clear that this was a warning from church leaders, the people who took over the role of the Old Testament prophets like Ezekiel).
The pastors don’t define what they mean by ‘vaccine passports’, but the content of their letter is consistent with this Australian Human Rights Commission explanation:
The pastors say that they are not the first in history to issue a warning about ‘vaccine passports’, quoting approvingly Abraham Kuyper’s 1880 equation of the threat from ‘vaccination certificates’ with that from smallpox. (Australia already has a vaccination certificate, so that boat has sailed, but if Kuyper had an objection to the use of the certificate to distinguish acceptable from unacceptable, the reference is valid.)
These pastors, and now 2011 church leaders who have signed the letter, say that
For many Christian leaders and Christians, this [the introduction of a ‘vaccine passport] is an untenable proposal that would inflict terrible consequences on our nation.
Their ‘terrible consequences’ are five: ‘an unethical two-tiered society’, ‘immeasurable pressures on ordinary people’, ‘coerced consciences’, ‘vaccines do not protect infection’, and Jesus is the only one who can legitimately restrict entry to church services.
Here’s the first one, the creation of ‘an unethical two-tiered society’:
I can see how those who willingly get the vaccination form one group (but not a ‘tier’). But if there is only one other ‘tier’, then they have omitted a group in their second ‘tier’: those who have declined to be vaccinated but do not have ‘good and informed reasons for declining’. And if the people that I know are anything to go by, there are a significant number of people in this group who will, when presented with information, change their mind. The pastors are therefore either missing a ‘tier’ or overstating the strength of the ‘two-tiered society’. Of course, a binary conflict is the more powerful image.
One of these ‘good and informed reasons for declining’, the pastors say, is the belief that the vaccine rollout is a ‘clinical trial’. It is plausible that some people may believe this, but the pastors offer no evidence for the claim.
But it gets worse: the pastors then use a sentence taken completely out of context (and without proper citation), from a speech by the Commonwealth Minister for Health, to justify these people’s fear. Here’s the quote, highlighted, in context:
To suggest that the Minister was saying that the vaccines are still in the trial phase, is dishonest, and, to use the same yardstick that the pastors use, behaviour that is clearly contrary to Scripture.
The pastors then move on to claim that the proponents of the ‘passport’ are ‘promoting segregation’. Without evidence, this claim is beneath any right-thinking Christian, certainly a group of Christian leaders, and brings shame on the name of Jesus.
In the same emotive and unsupported way, they then claim that the ‘passport’ represents ‘therapeutic totalitarianism’, a totalitarianism and that would use the aim of the ‘personal safety health and safety’ of Australians to hide a measure that would ‘dehumanise and control’ Australians.
Conclusion on their first reason
The use of a ‘vaccine passport’ to determine whether I and my fellow Australians are eligible or ineligible for certain goods, services, and activities, may well be something that an evangelical Christian like myself should be against. But the authors of this letter, have not, through their first reason, made the case. (There are similar flaws in the reasoning for their other four claims.)
Let’s get….Back to the Gospel.
- Timothy Grant of Mount Isa Baptist Church, Matthew Littlefield of The Baptist Union of Queensland New Beith Baptist Fellowship, and Warren McKenzie of Biota Baptist Church ↑
- The pastors’ division of the population into those who hold and ‘vaccine passport’ and those that don’t, ignores the fact that there may be possiblility of a third group: those people who get vaccinated but are allowed to elect not to be issued with a ‘passport’. ↑