Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Evangelical leaders warn Christians not to politicize COVID, urge them to wear masks and get a vaccine when available

Thousands of people, including hundreds of high-profile evangelical Christian leaders in the realms of religion and science, have jumped on board a statement urging fellow believers to avoid politicizing the coronavirus and to take specific steps, like wearing a mask, getting a vaccine, and correcting misinformation, to help slow the spread of COVID. The document was posted by a Christian organization that focuses on coupling religious faith and science.

The organization, BioLogos, which was founded by Christian geneticist and U.S. National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, posted its document, "A Christian Statement on Science for Pandemic Times," last week. Since then, more than 5,000 people have signed on.
Prominent signatories include author Philip Yancey, National Association of Evangelicals President Walter Kim, Christianity Today CEO Timothy Dalrymple, Fuller Theological Seminary President Mark Labberton, and conservative writer Peter Wehner.

What does the document say?

The BioLogos statement begins by calling on "all Christians to follow the advice of public health experts and support scientists doing crucial biomedical research on COVID-19" and urging the faithful to take seriously the scientific evidence researchers have found on COVID. Though the piece does acknowledge Christians may disagree on policy responses to the pandemic, it states that no Christian should polarize or politicize "science in the public square when so many lives are at stake."

The statement admits Christians are often right to be skeptical when scientists act like experts outside their professional areas, but when it comes to COVID, "Christians should listen to scientists and doctors when they speak in their area of expertise, especially when millions of lives are at stake."

What do the document creators want people to do?

Before specifically listing what good Christians should do, the people behind the document say religious folks should listen to those whom the organization has deemed the right "experts" on the matter, especially Dr. Anthony Fauci.
"[W]hen Dr. Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, tells us what scientists have learned about this infectious disease, he should be listened to," the document states.
Then the statement lists five items — complete with scripture references — signers are vowing to do "because of our faith in Jesus Christ" once they place their names on the document.
Item No. 1: Wear masks
Wear masks in indoor public spaces and follow other physical distancing rules given by public health officials (1 Peter 2:13-17), unless there are underlying health conditions. Yes, wearing a mask is uncomfortable and awkward, but the evidence is clear that masks reduce the chance we will transmit the disease to others. Mask rules are not experts taking away our freedom, but an opportunity to follow Jesus' command to love our neighbors as ourselves (Luke 6:31).
Item No. 2: Get vaccinated
Get vaccinated against COVID-19 when a safe and effective vaccine is available and as directed by a physician. A large fraction of the population needs to be vaccinated to develop the “herd immunity" which protects the immuno-compromised and others who cannot be vaccinated. Vaccination is a provision from God that will prevent disease not only for ourselves but for the most vulnerable among us (Matthew 25:31-36).
Item No. 3: Correct misinformation
Correct misinformation and conspiracy theories when we encounter them in our social media and communities. Christians are called to love the truth; we should not be swayed by falsehoods (1 Corinthians 13:6). We will actively promote accurate scientific and public health information from trustworthy, consensus sources, and use this information when making decisions for our families, churches, schools, and workplaces.
Item No. 4: Work for justice
Work for justice for communities who have suffered the most deaths from COVID-19. Christians are called to be courageous in fighting for justice (Micah 6:8). We should be the least indifferent to the disadvantaged and vulnerable. Groups that have been hit hard include the elderly in nursing homes, the Navajo nation where many do not have access to clean water, and people of color who continue to experience discrimination in access to health care.
Item No. 5: Pray
We pray for God to heal the millions of sick, to comfort the thousands of grieving families, and to give wisdom to decision-makers. We pray for God to sustain biomedical and public health researchers as they work to develop treatments and a safe and effective vaccine. We pray for God to protect nurses, doctors, lab techs, and all healthcare workers fighting COVID-19 as they serve patients and our communities. And we pray for God to bless our cities and nation with justice and flourishing for all (Jeremiah 29:7).
Read the entire statement here.

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