Rep. Cleaver: Getting Vaccinated is “Act of Love” & Miracle from God - Word&Way

Rep. Cleaver: Getting Vaccinated is “Act of Love” & Miracle from God

Calling the COVID-19 vaccines a “great miracle that God blessed us with,” U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) urged clergy to encourage vaccination. Cleaver spoke to Word&Way for the Aug. 24 episode of the Dangerous Dogma podcast as the delta variant sparked a rise in cases in Missouri and across the country in recent weeks.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver

“It is an act of love for others that we get vaccinated because we don’t want to transmit this deadly disease, this new delta variant to our loved ones,” Cleaver said.

Cleaver argued that if the COVID-19 vaccine creation “had happened 2,000 years ago,” then “it would be included in the Bible” as “one of the great miracles.” And he noted that the example of “Jesus as the healer” inspired churches in the past to create hospitals. But he sees that perspective too often missing in U.S. society today.

“With this great blessing that we’ve received has come a great amount of division and violence and disinformation,” he said. “It’s just unbelievable what has happened to this great miracle that God blessed us with, and now it’s been politicized.”

Cleaver recounted getting his polio vaccination as a child, and expressed regret that people today are pushing against a new vaccine designed to save lives.

“That couldn’t happen today,” he added. “I think if polio was still a virus that was out here, I don’t think we could get rid of it like we have. Now it’s something that rarely ever happens even in third world countries. But we’ve gone backward in some ways.”

Cleaver specifically lamented the disinformation and anti-vaccine rhetoric he’s heard from some members of Congress and from some preachers. Recounting a pastor he saw on the news preaching against vaccination, Cleaver denounced it as “a super-spreader in the name of Jesus” that will kill people.

Last month, Word&Way organized a clergy statement urging people to get vaccinated. More than 240 pastors from across the state and from more than 15 denominations signed the statement. As the statement explains, “Vaccine hesitancy in our pews puts our congregations and communities at greater risk. Given their safety and availability, receiving a vaccine is an easy way of living out Jesus’s command to ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ (Mark 12:31).”

Cleaver said he also thinks pastors could help influence people to get vaccinated.

“I think it’s important for religious leaders just to stand up and speak out about the need to be vaccinated,” he said. “I think people are going to believe their pastors and they’ll believe their own physicians, they’ll believe their church members, and so forth.”

In the conversation, Cleaver also talked about his experience on Jan. 6, efforts to roll back voting rights, how he integrates faith and politics, the rise of partisan polarization, and more.