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A Vaccine Passport to Freedom – CT

This weeks Christian Today article 

A Vaccine Passport to Freedom?

China has one. Japan is getting one. The European Union is proposing to have a green one. America probably won’t have one, but many of its corporations and companies will, and the British government is rumoured to be planning one too. One week the vaccine minister, Nadhim Zahawi, says they would not happen. The next week, foreign secretary Dominic Raab said they were ‘under consideration’. By the time this article is published it could well be government policy!

We are of course talking about the ‘vaccine passport’ – a document or app which would show that you have been vaccinated against Covid and which would allow you to travel or attend mass events again.

What are the issues here and is there anything in particular that the Church should be concerned about?

There are strong arguments for vaccine passports. Firstly, they might give us our freedoms back – freedom to travel, to meet together, to work and to enjoy a more normal life. Secondly, they might encourage more people to get vaccinated. And they will enable governments to better combat the spread of Covid-19.

At first glance and without a great deal of thought, I could not see where there would be any problem. Those who objected seemed to me to be a little like those Christians who see the mark of the beast on every bar code! But then I overcame my prejudices, went beyond the soundbites and simplistic slogans, and discovered that whilst it all sounds good, there is a downside as well. Consider.

What would these passports prove? As yet we have no guarantee that the vaccine will prevent the spread of Covid. Even at the highest level of 95% effectiveness, it still means that 5,000 people in every 100,000 could get infected. The point is that the vaccines are designed to protect against the seriousness of Covid; they do not guarantee that you cannot spread it.

So what would be the point of a passport? My British passport guarantees that I am a citizen of the United Kingdom. A Covid vaccine passport will not guarantee that I, or others, do not have Covid.

What about variants? Will vaccine passports guarantee against the increasing number of variants? All that the passport can do is show that the person has been vaccinated – not that they do not have the virus, or cannot pass it on.

But the issues get even murkier. A passport is a document which gives you certain privileges – normally the privilege to travel. The trouble with the proposed vaccines passports is that they are likely to be used, not just for international travel, but for entrance to venues for work, entertainment, shopping and even churches. This is a form of discrimination that will affect those who are not yet vaccinated – whether by choice or because they cannot. It is likely that the already disadvantaged will end up even more disadvantaged.

Other concerns include fraud and privacy. There is the danger of governments and others using this ‘passport’ to gather data on all of us. Whilst it seems that there are many within our culture who are prepared to trade privacy for convenience and ‘safety’, there are many of us who are not prepared to make that exchange.

There is also the question of precedent. Insisting on what is in effect a health passport to access certain services is a form of coercion. If we don’t get the passport then we will be barred from certain aspects of public life. This could easily be the thin end of a very thick wedge that breaks the back of the already fragile liberal democracies that Western countries have. Of course, the Chinese Communist Party love the idea. They are already operating a social credit system. There is every potential for this to be the same.

Once you give governments (or corporations) these kinds of powers, they are reluctant to give them back. They will tell us that ‘it’s for health and security’, but at what price? If we have a passport for Covid-19, why not have one for other conditions as well? For example, around two thirds of adults in the UK are overweight (over 20% are obese). Being overweight means you are more likely to be affected seriously by Covid. And obesity costs the NHS over £27bn per year. Why not have a passport stating that we are not obese? It is a ridiculous example – but then if a couple of years ago you had suggested that ‘rip up identity cards’ Boris Johnson would be even contemplating such a move you would have been called a conspiracy theorist! There are many measures that governments can take for the sake of ‘health and safety’.

There are also potentially serious implications for the Church, which is why over 1,000 church leaders (mostly evangelical) have written to the government to express their concerns. They have rightly insisted that they will never require vaccine passports from people who want to come to church.

As they argue, “The message we preach is given by God for all people and consists in nothing other than the free gift of grace offered in Christ Jesus, with the universal call to repentance and faith in him. To deny people entry to hear this life-giving message and to receive this life-giving ministry would be a fundamental betrayal of Christ and the Gospel. Sincere Christian churches and organisations could not do this, and as Christian leaders we would be compelled to resist any such Act of Parliament vigorously.”

My greatest concern here is that vaccine passports will end up not being the route to freedom, but rather the road to a society governed by technocrats, rather than democrats. Governments will say that they are doing it for our good. But is giving up our freedom and democracy a price worth paying just so we can be nannied by the State?

Since I published this, I was sent this…

Jesus is the Vaccine – CT

Is Paedophilia a Real Danger in Todays Society? – CT

 

16 comments

  1. Vaccine Passports look unlikely to be acquired by a substantial and sceptical BAME minority .

    It may mean that many restricted venues and destinations will look as White as 1950’s Alabama and all perfectly Legal. There will then be violent riots about the activities of Mr Ray Sissum.

    This is why VPs won’t happen.

  2. Sorry that this has got nothing to do with vaccine passports but I thought it might be of interest. I got it from the Guido Fawkes website.
    Carla Bruni-Sarkozy on cancel culture…

    “Little by little and without warning, do-gooders and censorship have taken control. Obsessed by their image of upholders of morality, a whole load of people without culture, without experience and without courage are trying to impose their narrow-minded ideas on us. Their sterile, uniform and puerile ideas are seeking to invade humanity. If we have the misfortune not to think like them, they rush at us with all their dictatorial energy to try to make us be quiet. Humour is quietly disappearing as a result of their moralising speeches, freedom is in its death throes, creation is lifeless and democracy in great danger. In short, it is not good to joke in 2021…”

  3. This is a great discussion.
    Hats off to the three of you.
    I was going to be scornful of the inevitable wooliness , the handwringing caveats that somehow condoned the churches inertia(and indeed collusion) over the past year.
    And ,yes it IS moderate, gentle and a bit soft for the likes of me.
    But there are FAR more people who’ll be swayed by this than by me.
    Because it’s scriptural, authoritative , born of experience and kindness. Yet with an eternal steel , good metaphors( thermometer v thermostat) and a coruscating take on how Jesus’ gospel being revisited to suit Hancock is both sinister and comical.
    Great show, thanks for posting and God Bless you clergy that speak out for us. And thanks for letting everybody speak without harrassment Freddy

  4. I’m not a “denier”. My wife and I can personally testify to the strange and indeed sinister nature of the virus. Still, I don’t intend to get the vaccine. The endgame is control and surveillance and the pandemic is the excuse.
    None of the vaccines has completed its clinical trials. So one doesn’t have to be an anti-vaxxer to be worried about the long term effects. The decision between the virus and the vaccine is really a choice of evils. If I was 72 and not 62 I might decide to get it. I don’t know. Or if I had underlying health issues.
    We don’t quite know how the vaccine will react in those who like me have already had the virus, or what type of future immunity is conferred by the virus. I would like to wait and see how this all plays out.
    But our rulers seem to abandon the precautionary principle in this area. The pressure to conform is almost overwhelming. I’m reminded at times of Animal Farm. The relentless government propaganda is working. I might be more sympathetic if the messages were less shrill.
    I’m concerned about what will be in effect compulsory medical treatment of the healthy with experimental vaccines the manufacturers of which have in many cases been granted immunity from suit.
    I don’t think we should have to justify our reluctance, as I have found myself doing when asked. I think it should be enough to say no, I don’t want to.

  5. You should stick to religion – you are out of your depth here. At least with religion you can make nonsense up an no one will know the difference.

    1. You seem to have your own ‘religious’ views! You have great faith in yourself – Your post is a snide attempt at mockery – with no substance, no logic, and no facts. I guess you must be an atheist!

  6. I confess to being somewhat surprised that there may be “strong arguments for vaccine passports” and am pleased that the letter written by Church leaders has been linked.

    As someone who has known a family bereavement due to Covid, has received a vaccine, has sought to keep the ‘rules’ as far as humanly possible, and who is as far from a mark-of-the-beast-barcode-fearing Christian as it is possible to be, I must say that so-called vaccine passports are a line in the sand for me.

    May as well ask non ‘passport’ holders to wear a bell and cry “Unclean!”

    The very idea of a vaccine passport is not only discriminatory and risks a loss of freedom, but most insidious of all, it requires us to live by fear.

  7. Re Freedom , many members of the Minneapolis Black community celebrated the Saint George Floyd trial victory in the same way they’d have faced legal defeat .

  8. The vaccine passport system is one way in which governments today are looking to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

    The freedom we have in western countries to travel and meet has come up against the realities of a deadly viral infection. Lockdowns have been followed in many nations as a way to stop the spread of Covid, and those countries in which the vast majority of people followed lockdown rules, the spread of the virus was slowed and eventually stopped. Australia and New Zealand are examples of this.

    Conversely, nations which did not enact lockdowns properly, or which had a great amount of public rejection of lockdowns, ended up having a substantial spread of the disease, resulting in a lot of dead people. The USA is an example of this.

    When governments speak about restricting liberties for the sake of public good, we should listen. Their words and their reasoning does not indicate any desire on their part to permanently restrict these freedoms.

    Those who see beyond the clear and unambiguous words of government officials and read in dark conspiracies are guilty of believing the sort of myth that the Apostle Paul commanded people reject (1 Timothy 1.4, 4.7, 2 Timothy 4.4) and, if they spread those beliefs, are engaged in lies and slander and break one of the commandments (Exodus 20.16). Furthermore, any Christian leader who engages in such activities may also be in danger of being disqualified for ministry, as per 1 Timothy 3 (Sober minded, self controlled, well thought of by outsiders)

    1. Thanks for your post….several points.

      1) The vaccine passport is not just about travel.
      2) Lockdowns are not that effective – many countries which have had lockdowns – including UK and in Western Europe have seen some of the worst cases and deaths – lockdowns generally delay – they don’t stop. You are wrong about Australia – apart from Victoria we have have very little lockdowns. I’m not sure where you got the idea we did – I live here. New Zealand is a remote small island.
      3) All governments who want to restrict liberties say they are doing so for the public good. We should not just listen, we should question.
      4) Questioning government has nothing to do with the myths that Paul speaks of in Timothy. Thats appalling exegesis – guided more by political views than scriptural.
      Your idea that Willie Philip and others are to be excluded from the ministry is bizarre!

  9. I think that the one argument relevant and of concern is the potential for precedent in terms of future restrictions. The other arguments rather fall apart if what is proposed is actually something slightyl different which is the facilitation of testing prior to mass events with in effect a vaccine passport counting in lieu of a test on the day. Of course vaccines are not 100% guarantee but the level of risk reduction if all have either had the vaccine or test would be significant and if the aim is not virus elimination but reduction of risk then that should be enough for (and only for) a transition period as you move towards full vaccination. They become pointless after that point because the vaccine has in effect done its job.

    What concerns me is the rather disingenuous argument by some that somehow this is a choice between being loving and inclusive welcoming all versus turning people away. There are two reasons for that, first of all, as things are likely to stand there will be social distancing restrictions that mean churches will be limiting access for some time unless they reject both the vaccine passports and the social distancing measures. Secondly, a choice to not have measures is a choice, rightly or wrongly to restrict access to those who remain nervous about the virus and are more likely to attend a venue where measures are in place. Thirdly, decisions are made all the time that include some and exclude others. It is the point we have to make to those liberal churches who claim to be inclusive. Their stand on issues by its nature excludes others who in good conscience go along with things. Further (and I wonder if these types of comments reflect the sparsity of meaningful gospel work on estates and in inner city areas), my experience as an inner city pastor was of having to make frequent judgement calls when someone wasn’t doing well with a drug or alcohol addiction or their medication was not proving as effective as we would want where their behaviour became unmanageable on the day. We had to chose whether they might at that point be better off at home or even hospital and of course the choice to ignore was a choice to make other vulnerable people feel that they could not attend.

    So, we need to do two things. First, we need to talk positively and proactively about how we can get back to full meeting. This also means some weaker/stronger brother discussions about individual decisions about rights etc. BUT we also need a better conversation about what we mean when we say that we welcome and include.

    1. @Dave Williams
      That is quite the cloak and dagger argument. There is zero reason in support of vaccine passports, and any sort of lockdown/social distancing. Our western societies, at least the majority, are rooted in Biblical principles, and thus their Constitutions are also. Most all vehemently oppose the infringement of individual rights, to mobility or faith. They are also granted the right to take care of themselves. Fear is the result of an uncommitted heart, it is that simple. God does not give us a spirit of fear, and Paul explicitly stated, that to die is gain. If one stays at home, by their own decision, that is their choice, and they are not infringing others. To force others to social distance, lockdown, and wear a mask to ease one’s fears, is infringement, and counter-Biblical. There is no guarantee against fear, or for health in this life. It is immoral to force others to quell one’s fear of life.

  10. @James I’m not sure what you mean about cloak and dagger. You may disagree with the use of social distancing measures – I am not sure on the basis of what evidence but to claim there is no support for them or for the option of immunity certification is a big claim and making the claim does not make it anymore true. BUT then to go on the personal attack accusing anyone who is open to a form of health measure of lacking faith – well outside of the prosperity Gospel somply is not an argument. In fact as has too often been the case we we see personal attacks replace proper discussion and debate. Furthermore the point that people have a concern for the weaker brother and the seeker is also dismissed. Not good at all.

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