Labor Day in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of 78. Sunrise is 6:26 AM and sunset 7:19 PM, for 12h 53m 11s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 0.4% of its visible disk illuminated.
Conservative evangelical David French writes It’s Time to Stop Rationalizing and Enabling Evangelical Vaccine Rejection (‘There is no religious liberty interest in refusing the COVID vaccine’):
As we approach nine months of vaccine availability and nine months of flood-the-zone coverage of vaccine safety and efficacy, it is clear that much (though certainly not all) of our remaining refusal problem is not one of information but one of moral formation itself. The very moral framework of millions of our fellow citizens—the way in which they understand the balance between liberty and responsibility—is gravely skewed.
To understand the skew, it’s first necessary to understand the proper balance, and while we have vaccine endorsements from Christian leaders from across the Catholic/Protestant spectrum, we also have guidance from church fathers—individuals who no one can claim have caved to some “establishment” or are motivated by supposed invites to mythical beltway “cocktail parties.” For example, read these famous words from Martin Luther, written during a plague in his own time:
Therefore I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine, and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance infect and pollute others, and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely, as stated above. See, this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.
The balance is clear. It is incumbent on the Christian to take care of themselves, including by taking medicine “in order not to become contaminated” (a nice definition of a vaccine before vaccines were invented). To the extent that he or she takes risks, those risks should be on behalf of others. As a person created in the image of God, taking care of yourself is an independent good. Taking care of yourself so that you can care for others is an even nobler good.
Christian vaccine refusal not only rejects self-care, it enhances risks to innocent and vulnerable neighbors. Even vaccinated people can catch relatively rare breakthrough cases. And every person—regardless of vaccination status—is vulnerable to the strains placed on a region’s hospitals when COVID runs rampant.
I also fear that the relentless right-wing political focus on religious liberty has obscured two realities—that our liberties have limits when they collide with the rights of others, and that the exercise of our liberty carries with it profound moral responsibility.
The idea that liberty has limits is inherent in the American social compact. Think of our founding Declaration—“that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Through more than two centuries of controversy and progress, our classical liberal legal system is learning to harmonize these three unalienable rights.
I have liberty, yes, but my liberty does not extend to taking or endangering your life
And let’s be honest and clear. The majority of Christians seeking religious exemptions are using religion as a mere pretext for their real concern—be it fear of the shot or the simple desire to do what they want. In speaking to my religious liberty lawyer friends, the vast majority of those requesting a religious exemption to the COVID vaccine don’t come from the tiny religious sects that historically reject conventional medicine. In fact, they don’t even object to all vaccines, just this vaccine. A sincere desire not to take a shot does not equate with a sincere expression of orthodox Christian faith.
David French writes these words — and his whole essay is worth reading — as an evangelical conservative. This mainline Protestant, libertarian blogger is in agreement: Christianity imposes obligations on believers, and in any event, libertarianism is not libertinism.
People of any belief are free to assert as they wish, but vaccine refusal simply doesn’t rest on a traditional Christian foundation.
‘Christian’ assertions of vaccine refusal are an example of inadequate moral formation.