Reading Time: 3 minutes

How is that for the ultimate rhetorical question?

To start with, nobody knows if the Jesus of the Bible even existed. There have been a lot of people named Jesus over the last two thousand years. I have even known a few, but they pronounce their name ”Hay-SOOS.”

It may even be true that an itinerant preacher and rabble rouser with that name actually lived in Biblical times. And it is possible that he pissed off the local authorities enough to crucify him. But we are talking about the mythical Jesus…the one who performed all those hands-on miracles and then was resurrected and snatched up into Heaven after his death.

The title of this piece is really asking a hypothetical question: Would the mythical Jesus, if he were alive today, get a vaccination? An op-ed in the LA Times addressed this question. I would give you the title, but that would be a spoiler, so I’ll save it for the end.

The laws mandating vaccinations grant exceptions for medical issues or religious beliefs. Both have been blatantly misused by people with neither. But as the author of the op-ed, Robin Abcarian, says.

“No major world religion has prohibitions against vaccinations. Even Christian Science, a sect known for favoring prayer over medical intervention for illness, encourages its adherents to follow public health guidelines, including vaccination mandates.”

Curtis Chang, a former Christian pastor, created the website “Christians and the Vaccine” to explore, and try to allay, objections to vaccines. He says that Christian Scientists are OK with vaccines because they believe in Christ’s profound message to “love thy neighbor as thyself.”

“The vaccine effort has been plagued by falsehoods of all kinds,” Chang wrote in a recent New York Times essay “The religious exemption from vaccine mandates for Christians is the latest lie.”

White Christian evangelicals, especially men, are the largest demographic group of COVID-19 vaccine holdouts, according to public health officials. Some believe that fetal cell lines, obtained through abortion, were used in the development of COVID-19 vaccines. (The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were not developed with fetal cell lines; the Johnson & Johnson vaccine used a fetal cell line that was first created in 1985.) Most of them just don’t want the government telling them what to do, and they don’t mind lying to avoid government mandates.

No religion has come out against the vaccines. Russell Moore and Walter Kim of the National Assn. of Evangelicals have urged their followers to get the shots:

“Indeed, the vaccines are a cause for Christians to rejoice and to give glory to God…. By getting vaccinated as soon as our time is called, we can actively work for what we have been praying for — churches filled with people, hugs in the church foyer, and singing loudly the hymns we love.”

The Catholic Church agrees: “It is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process,” declared the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Pope Francis has said getting vaccinated is “an act of love.”

And speaking of love, I love this one from the op-ed:

An employer in Arkansas, Conway Regional Hospital, created a list of common medications developed using fetal cell lines after many of its employees said they objected to the COVID-19 vaccine for religious reasons. To ensure their beliefs were sincerely held, the hospital asked them to vow that they do not and will not use medications including Tylenol, Pepto Bismol, Tums, Lipitor, Ex-Lax, Benadryl, Albuterol, Claritin, Zoloft, Ibuprofen and Preparation H.

Of course, the refuseniks will take the vow without batting an eye, and go right on using those common medications. Such is the morality of religious belief.

If you’re wondering what Jesus would do, by now it should be pretty obvious: Love your neighbor, get the shot.

Oh yeah, almost forgot. The title the LA Times op-ed is “What would Jesus do? Get vaccinated, that’s what”

Avatar photo

Jonathan MS Pearce

A TIPPLING PHILOSOPHER Jonathan MS Pearce is a philosopher, author, columnist, and public speaker with an interest in writing about almost anything, from skepticism to science, politics, and morality,...