Texas Megathurch Preacher Says No “Credible Religious Argument” Against COVID Vaccine

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Because a significant number of Americans are seeking religious exemptions from warrants against the COVID-19 vaccine, many religious leaders say: Not with our support.

Leaders of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America said Thursday that while some people may have medical reasons for not receiving the vaccine, “there is no exemption in the Orthodox Church for its faithful from any vaccine for religious motives ”.

The Holy Diocesan Synod of the National Archdiocese, which represents most Eastern Orthodox in the United States, urged members to “pay attention to the competent medical authorities and avoid false narratives totally unfounded in science.”

“No clergy should issue these letters of religious exemption,” Greek Orthodox Archbishop Elpidophoros said, and any such letter “is invalid.”

Similarly, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America issued a recent statement encouraging the use of vaccines and saying that “there is no obvious basis for religious exemption” in its own Lutheran tradition or in the its wide.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York set out its own stance over the summer, saying any priest who issued a letter of exemption would “act in contradiction” with Pope Francis’ statements that receiving the vaccine is morally acceptable. and responsible.

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Both the Vatican and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have said Catholics can receive vaccines with good conscience, given the lack of alternatives and the goal of alleviating suffering, even while they object to research. even with a remote connection to abortion.

Several dioceses have adopted policies similar to those in New York and the bishops of El Paso (Texas) and Lexington (Kentucky) have forced vaccinations on employees.

But other Catholic jurisdictions are better suited to exemptions. The Colorado Catholic Conference, the political arm of state bishops, has posted online a template for a letter that priests can sign saying an individual parishioner can use Catholic values ​​to oppose vaccines. The bishops of South Dakota have also adopted this stance.

The issue for many Catholics and other opponents of abortion is that the most widely used COVID-19 vaccines were tested on fetal cell lines developed for decades in laboratories, although the vaccines themselves do not contain any such material. .

The issue is intensifying as public and private sector employers impose more and more mandates.

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A clerical letter would not necessarily be required for someone to receive an exemption (federal law requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for “sincerely maintained” religious beliefs), although the support of the clergy could help strengthen the claim of a person.

The Rev. Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Dallas, a southern Baptist megishurch, said he and his staff “do not offer or encourage members to seek religious exemptions from vaccine warrants.”

“There is no credible religious argument against vaccines,” he said by email. “Christians who are concerned about the use of a fetal cell line for vaccine testing should also refrain from using Tylenol, Pepto Bismol, Ibuprofen and other products that use the same cell line if they are sincere in their objection “.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not offer religious exemptions for vaccines for members, according to Church spokesman Eric Hawkins. Utah-based faith leaders have called on members to be vaccinated, even as the doctrine recognizes that it depends on individual choice.

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The church’s Brigham Young University has asked students to report their vaccination status, but does not require vaccinations, and the church also requires vaccination of American missionaries serving in foreign countries.

Some other religious groups, such as the Orthodox Union, an umbrella organization for Orthodox Judaism, and the United Methodist Church, have encouraged people to get vaccinated, but have not released statements about the exceptions.

The Fiqh Council of North America, made up of Islamic scholars, has advised Muslims to receive Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and to reject “unfounded rumors and myths” about them.


Associated Press writers Brady McCombs in Salt Lake City and David Crary in New York contributed to this report.


Associated Press religious coverage is supported by Lilly Endowment through The Conversation US. The AP is solely responsible for this content.

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