Vaccination Coercion and Passports
Gospel principles apply to all of life, and our current context of COVID-19, lockdowns, and now vaccine passports is no different, in spite of its attendant challenges. As Elders at New West Community Church we have a variety of viewpoints on COVID, vaccinations, and even the various levels of lockdown or restrictions in society. We have been clear and united, however, on several issues over the last year and a half. Firstly, except for extreme circumstances, faithful Christian living means meeting together regularly—in person (Acts 2:42, Heb 10:25). For some people, especially those with pre-existing health conditions or who work in fields with vulnerable people, there may be good reasons to avoid gathering in the present circumstances. We do not judge or bind the consciences of individuals, but we will keep teaching the gathering of the saints as normative. While we continue to offer livestreaming, and even upgrade our technology to improve its effectiveness, we do it with the understanding that it does not replace “church.”
Secondly, some of the provincial regulations and lockdowns this last year were wrong, impeding both our charter rights as citizens to freely meet and worship, and also contravening God’s law, to whom the secular authorities are responsible. We supported the legal challenge early this year and were praying for a breakthrough. Although the ruling did not change anything immediately, the more recent provincial regulations suggest a positive change towards more greatly respecting the freedom of religious gathering.
Thirdly, we have been united on the freedom of our members regarding COVID vaccines. There are a variety of viewpoints within our Elders, and we have clearly communicated that it is a matter of personal freedom, and we have encouraged personal research and to even seek a variety of viewpoints. Our church is neither pro-vaccine nor anti-vaccine.
Fourthly, our Elders have spoken freely about our concerns with the totalitarian trajectory of provincial, federal, and world governments. Pastor Paul’s sermon “Who is Marking You” on Revelation 13:16–17 presents some of these pastoral concerns. Mass media bias, the silencing of dissenting opinions, global pressures (UN, World Economic Forum etc.) towards the most ungodly behaviors, seem to all be colluding, deliberately or not, to restrict freedom and promote further evil.
Connected to this totalitarian trajectory is the recent issue of vaccination passports and coercive vaccination. On August 31st, the Government of Canada announced that full COVID vaccination (currently two injections) will be required for government employees, as well as for commercial flights and trains. On August 27, the B.C. government announced that by October 24th full COVID vaccination (currently two injections) will be required for concerts, theatres, gyms and recreation facilities, weddings, conferences, and post-secondary student housing. Many businesses may try to follow suit and fire unvaccinated employees. There are serious legal questions as to whether Canadian law permits this, with some lawyers stating this is permissible for employers, and other stating that it is not and could lead to wrongful dismissal suits against them.
As Elders of NWCC we want to state unequivocally that vaccine passports and other coercive measures regarding COVID-19 vaccines are contrary to scripture and gospel principles. Several of these principles cooperate to produce this conclusion. Firstly, there is the principle of the Christian’s conscience. It is before God, not man, that a person stands or falls in judgment (Rom 14:4) and if a brother/sister is convinced something is wrong (outside the scripture’s clear instructions about what is sinful), for them it is indeed sin” (Rom 14:23).
Secondly, there is the principle of bodily sovereignty and autonomy. The Christian is individually responsible for what he does with and to his body, not the state. Sins against the body are seen as especially serious in scripture, because our bodies are to be holy and temples of God’s Spirit (1 Cor 6:18–20). This principle is enshrined in secular law as bodily privacy is considered the most significant of all matters of privacy.
A third principle is the blessing of freedom to all people through gospel principles. Both spiritual and earthly freedom is an outflow of the gospel (Gal 5:1, 1 Cor 7:21, 1 Pet 2:16). And insomuch as (even secular) societies adhere to gospel principles of freedom and the limited sphere of government, its citizens are blessed. Furthermore, where freedoms are curtailed, it is often the vulnerable and the marginalized who are hurt the most.
Taken together, these gospel principles lead to the conclusion that vaccine passports and coercive vaccine policies are contrary to God and his law. They ought to be opposed by all Christians, even by those who are persuaded that COVID vaccination is the best course of action.
Without fully endorsing all aspects of their website or message, Liberty Coalition Canada has an excellent statement and resources on vaccine coercion available at their website: https://www.libertycoalitioncanada.com/religious-freedom-from-vaccination-coercion.
Any of our elders or pastors would be happy to further discuss or clarify the statements in this document.
For the Elders of NWCC,
Pastor Paul Dirks