Do Christians have a responsibility to vaccinate their children? Is this a matter of religious liberty? Should Christian leaders use their platform to influence us in this health matter?
It seems that we have been getting barraged with religious leaders trying to convince us one way or the other on the recent vaccine issue in the news as Measles has made a comeback with a recent outbreak. I was surprised to see numerous tweets from religious leaders and wondered what you thought about this.
Below are just some of the tweets and articles, including some excerpts I have found.
And Now a Brief Word on Vaccines – by Doug Wilson
The claim I am making here is very limited. If a person has decided personal convictions about the contagious disease he is carrying, the society in which he lives has an equal right to have decided and contrary convictions about that same contagious disease he has. And if there is an outbreak of such a disease, and the government quarantines everyone who is not vaccinated, requiring them to stay at home, the name for this is prudence, not tyranny.
3 reasons Christians should vaccinate with confidence by Justin Smith of ERLC (The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission)
In the midst of all the confusion about vaccines, I believe that Christians don’t have to be the ones who are confused. We can use the gift of vaccines with confidence knowing that, ultimately, our lives and our health are in the hands of our Father.
Cripplegate is blog with 4 contributors who seem to have connections with John MacArthur’s seminary/church. This article was posted on Cripplegate: Anti-vaxxers and epistemological narcissism
Take note at how they use scripture to justify vaccinating:
- Vaccines are a form of common grace that have dramatically changed the world for the better (Gen 3:18; Ps 145:9-16; Matt 5:44-45; Acts 14:16-17). Participating in the blessings of common grace in a post-Babel society means that we bond together as nations, and we use common grace to make quality of life better (Gen 9:6, 2 Kings 12:2, Luke 6:33). We work, we marry, and we protect each other. A basic way to do that is to be vaccinated against diseases that plague the cultures that don’t vaccinate.
- Thus, being vaccinated is a form of loving your neighbor (Lev 19:18; Matt 5:43,Rom 13:8-10, Jas 2:8). Knowing that some are too little, too young, or too weak to be vaccinated, we protect the weak by being vaccinated.
The last paragraph admits this is gray area which is bizarre because if it truly is a gray area, can you really use scripture to 100% back up your stance?
I recognize that this is a Christian gray-area, and it goes beyond what is written to say that a person is sinning by being an anti-vaxxer. But it does not go beyond what is written to appeal to believer’s discernment: don’t undo one of society’s crowning scientific advancements because of epistemological narcissism.
Rev. Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, Executive Religion Editor for the Huffington Post posted an article and a podcast at Huffington post. (The podcast will start immediately as soon as you open the page, but you can turn it off and read the article: Love Thy Neighbor: Vaccinate (All Together Podcast). Dr. Claire McCarthy, a pediatrician at Boston Children’s hospital, Dr. Robert Klitzman, professor and Director of the Bioethics Program at Columbia School of Public Health, and Sally Steenland, Director of the Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative at the Center for American Progress, were on the podcast and discussed why this is not a religious liberty issue. Paul concludes:
Jesus commands to love our neighbor as ourselves. This gets to the heart of the vaccination issue. It’s not just about loving your own family. It is also about caring for the well-being of your neighbors and your community. Everyone should vaccinate their children as an act of love.
In this case, we have a reverend with a highly visible position in public media using his platform to push his agenda. Is this okay?
I’m sure that there’s some serious consequences to measles, and perhaps vaccinations is the answer, but I don’t think any parent should be forced by the government to vaccinate.
If I looked longer, I’m sure I could find even more articles from religious leaders. I have some questions:
Is it a religious leader’s responsibility to inform private citizens about their views on immunizations?
At what point do religious leaders cross the line when it comes to health concerns and using their position of authority/celebrity-ism to influence?
How much credence do we give to religious leaders on issues of health?
As you can see above, some say this is a gray area or a religious liberty area, where others say it is not. Do you think we can discuss this topic, specifically the bolded questions without getting personal and debating the pros/cons of vaccines? Please exercise caution when commenting. I specifically would like to keep it to the subject of Christian leaders pushing their health agendas using their public platforms.