Have you heard the Good News? Religion is making a comeback! To those who cheer these things, it’s a sign that goodness and morality will prevail over the forces of darkness. As a force of darkness myself, I’m a little irked.
The religious revival has closely tracked the requirement in certain areas that individuals get vaccinated against a pandemic-causing virus. And that is because one way out of the jab is to file for a religious exemption. Cue God.
How do you prove a religious objection to vaccination? Why, you declare a sincerely held belief. That’s it–a sincerely held belief is all you need. I am not sure why the sincerely held belief of a person claiming the cloak of religion should have any more weight than my sincerely held beliefs, and I surely have some. For instance, I am appalled by state-sanctioned murders done in my name, such as executions or drone strikes. I am appalled by the rape and plunder of our mother Earth for profit. But all I know how to do is agitate and protest and vote.
God doesn’t have my back on this. If there is a God who has my best interests at heart, lightning would already have obliterated the Republican side of the aisle and zapped Joe Manchin on its way out. But if you sincerely believe God told you not to get vaccinated, you’ve got your ticket punched.
God is always telling people what to do, not that he ever agrees with himself. So it’s not hard to dig up something God said to suit your needs. God could easily have whispered to someone in London during the blitzkrieg that unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness, and things would have gotten real loud real fast.
Basically, we’re letting the schizophrenics run the public health show.
So it is my sincerely held belief that public health is served by the judicious use of proven methods of reducing a deadly virus’s available host population through vaccine–in fact it’s a no-brainer of a sincerely held belief–and that we could thus save countless people from suffering and death across the globe, but my sincerely held belief will not even tip the scale against the sincerely held belief of someone who fully expects to shake Jesus’s hand in the sky some day, as long as she promises not to use her brain.
I decided to look into these beliefs. The St. Thomas More Society offers four sample exemption request letters on its website. Here’s one:
The vaccines act at a genetic level that invades the province of God. Our genetic physiology is His design, extraordinarily complex as only He could make it, and understood only as He can understand it. Our understanding is shallow. I cannot morally participate in tinkering with a powerful and dangerous thing, within this temple, that we poorly understand.
Dudes. Here’s a thought. Unshallow your understanding, because we most certainly do know how this works. It doesn’t diminish the glory of God in the least, if that’s the way you want to look at it. But if you think this vaccine is tinkering in the temple, I don’t want to see you eating a Twinkie.
Somewhat more persuasive a rationale is the notion that the vaccine was developed using fetal cell lines derived from an aborted fetus. This is true, or probably true. There are a few fetal cell lines that have been used to develop vaccines. Not very many actual fetuses have contributed. Human fetal cells obtained from two abortions in the early 1960s are still growing in labs and are used to produce vaccines for chickenpox, rubella, hepatitis A, shingles, and rabies. We effectively took out polio with an earlier line. But I get it, a cell line from a fetus aborted sixty years ago is one aborted fetus too many. Okay. Fetal Lives Matter.
But here’s a thing. My sincerely held beliefs about our responsibilities to each other in a public health crisis are in strictly mainstream, love-thy-neighbor territory. Why are mine unimportant?
Go ahead and plant a moral flag for that sixty-year-old fetus. I can admire a sincerely held belief. But stick with it. You or anyone you love get Parkinson’s? Alzheimer’s? Arthritis? HIV? Keep suffering. Oh of course nobody you know has HIV. My mistake. Stroke? Spinal injury?
And if it’s your sincerely held belief that aborted fetuses are ground up and put in the vaccine, you’re just wrong. If you’re determined to find a rationale to screw your neighbor, get your facts right. And understand that screwing your neighbor is what you’re doing.