Rev. Lucifer Satan of Woke Baptist Church in Kansas City, Missouri, recently offered us his support. As did Dr. Right Rev. Nimrod Covid Vaccine of the Church of Satan in Hell. The state for the latter congregation wasn’t noted, but I’m assuming Kansas. Both “ministers” claimed email addresses from hell.com. Does that means they are still using AOL?
Those, and a couple of other obviously-fake names, were submitted as “signers” for the recent Word&Way clergy statement urging Christians to get a COVID-19 vaccine. We left them off the list. But the names of more than 230 real pastors from across Missouri are on the statement. The courage of their collective witness from more than 15 denominations that span the theological and political spectrum remains inspiring. More importantly, it could help save lives as media coverage from numerous state newspapers, TV stations, radio shows, and even national outlets helped amplify the message.
But with all the fake news and cynical politics infecting our culture during the pandemic, it’s not surprising that we’ve heard from some fake pastors peddling falsehoods. Rev. The End is Nigh didn’t leave a church on the form, instead writing “Jesus is the way, not the vax.”
Oddly, I agree. Jesus is the Way. But it’s disappointing to realize this cowardly commentator does not recognize how vaccinations are a path for Christians to obediently follow Jesus’s command to love our neighbors. Where the anonymous critic falsely perceives a conflict, hundreds of pastors see a discipleship opportunity.
In addition to the fake signers, I’ve also received emails, phone calls, and social media postings from people criticizing us for encouraging vaccinations. The demonization of our efforts, however, will not sway us from trying to save the lives of people made in the image of God. Indeed, we are concerned about the well-being of these naysayers even as they refuse to care about others.
Much of the anti-vaxxer rhetoric from those professing to follow Christ seems to focus around the message of “faith over fear.” Some churches even held “faith over fear” rallies to protest health measures.
And after a Methodist church in New Orleans, Louisiana, put “Love They Neighbor, Get Vaccinated” on their church sign, a vandal last week spray-painted over “vaccinated” and wrote “Faith over fear” and “Revelations 13:17.” The latter appears to be a verse only read in Woke Baptist Church since the biblical book is spelled without an “s” on the end.
The real verse, Revelation 13:17, warns about the “mark of the beast.” But certainly that cannot be what the vandal meant. Reading the verse literally, as most conservative Christians would insist, would cause us to believe the mark will be on “their right hand or on their forehead.” If someone aims for either of those two spots with your COVID vaccine, then please consult a doctor!
Sure, the Bible teaches us we should have faith over fear. But it also teaches “do not put the Lord your God to the test.” And there are numerous times in the Bible where having faith over fear means doing something to save lives.
Noah didn’t jump out of the ark and into the floodwaters just to prove he had faith over fear.
Jochebed didn’t keep her newborn baby Moses at home just to prove she had faith over fear.
The enslaved Hebrew people didn’t skip putting lamb’s blood on their doorposts just to prove they had faith over fear.
The sickened Israelites in the wilderness didn’t reject looking at the bronze serpent just to prove they had faith over fear.
Young David didn’t walk naked without a sling toward Goliath just to prove he had faith over fear.
Joseph didn’t keep Mary and baby Jesus in Bethlehem just to prove he had faith over fear.
So, when I hear someone claim they won’t get vaccinated because they have “faith over fear,” I’m tempted to respond with the righteous indignation of James: “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?”
Scripture also promises “the truth will set you free.” Here’s some truth: We will not be free of this pandemic until we finally and fully reject the lies, distortions, and misinformation about getting vaccinated. Let’s have faith over fear, but let’s also put that faith into action by wearing our masks, practicing social distance, and getting vaccinated so we can end this pandemic.
That’s why I will continue to join hundreds of pastors in Missouri and elsewhere to preach this good news. Meanwhile, my message for Rev. Lucifer? “Get behind me, Satan!”