When Crisann Holmesâs employer announced last month that it would require all employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19 by Nov. 1, she knew she had to find a way out.
She signed a petition to ask the company to relax its mandate. She joined an informal protest, skipping work with other dissenting employees at the mental health care system where she has worked for two years. And she attempted a solution that many across the country are now exploring: a religious exemption.
âMy freedom and my childrenâs freedom and childrenâs childrenâs freedom are at stake,â said Ms. Holmes, who lives in Indiana. In August, she submitted an exemption request she wrote herself, bolstered by her own Bible study and language from sources online. Some vaccines were developed using fetal cell lines from aborted fetuses, she wrote, citing a remote connection to a practice she finds abhorrent. She quoted a passage from the New Testament: âLet us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit.â (...)
For many skeptics, resistance tends to be based not on formal teachings from an established faith leader, but an ad hoc blend of online conspiracies and misinformation, conservative media and conversations with like-minded friends and family members.
âPeople who have already made up their minds are now looking for ways to continue to exempt themselves from the Covid vaccine,â said Joshua Williams, a pediatrician and assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado. (...)
Radical right-wing pastor Shane Vaughn used his livestream broadcast Monday night to falsely declare that COVID-19 vaccines are not working because, he claimed, the United States is under Godâs judgment for tolerating reproductive freedom and LGBTQ rights.
âIâm going to tell you what God told me to tell you,â Vaughn said. âTheyâve got variants coming that ainât no vaccine going to work for. This nation is under the judgment of God. And I want to tell you something right now: Theyâre already admitting that the vaccine is alarmingly not working. Alarmingly! Theyâre alarmed at what theyâre seeing. Do you know why? Because America, youâre making a huge mistake.â
Vaughn then read from Isaiah 31, in which God told the Israelites not to look to Egypt for help but rather to rely on God. Vaughn said the same principle must apply today.
âWoe unto them that go down to Egyptâwhich is the enemies of Godâfor help; to their pharmacia doctors and the ones that donât even believe in our God,â Vaughn bellowed. âYouâre running, whereâs the next vaccine? Can I get another one? Can I get that second shot? The third one? Does anybody got the fourth? I need a fifth one, please.â
âWhy would you go begging them for their help?â he continued. âThey have nothing thatâs gonna help my judgment that is coming upon this nation. The only help for the child of God in this hour is the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, Yeshua the Messiah. You better learn thatâand you better learn it fastâor youâre gonna chase vaccines until there ainât no vaccines left. I donât care if you got one. Go for it. God bless you if thatâs your choice. But Iâm telling you if thatâs where your faith is, youâre going to be in for a big disappointment. God is going to force you to look to him. These vaccines are gonna quit working on every corner until this nation falls to her knees and repents for dead babies and repents for the sodomy of this nation!â
Since 1988, the General Social Survey has been asking Americans of different ages what they believe about God. For decades, the answer did not change much. Around 70 percent of members of the Silent Generation said that they âknow God really existsâ and âhave no doubts about it.â That same sentiment was shared by about 63 percent of baby boomers and Generation Xers.
But in 2018, millennials expressed a lot less certainty. Only 44 percent had no doubts about the existence of God. Even more doubtful were members of Generation Z â just one-third claimed certain belief in God.
Today, scholars are finding that by almost any metric they use to measure religiosity, younger generations are much more secular than their parents or grandparents. In responses to survey questions, over 40 percent of the youngest Americans claim no religious affiliation, and just a quarter say they attend religious services weekly or more.
In 2021, when about 26 percent of Americans have no religious affiliation, just 0.2 percent of members of Congress identify as a None. Given the rapid secularization of the United States, itâs clear that the political establishment does not represent what is a seismic shift in American society. Both parties will need to evolve to meet this challenge, but neither Republicans nor Democrats have an easy path.
Eric Metaxas is a millionaire who makes his money scaring Christians into believing that the American republic is devolving into the Third Reich. He claims to know this because he wrote a book about Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
I have to give Metaxas credit. He is a master at marketing himself. He also appears to be a wise and savvy reader of evangelical culture. I wouldnât be surprised, for example, if he read Mark Nollâs Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, learned that evangelicals have a long history of anti-intellectualism, and then capitalized on this deficiency in evangelicalismâs DNA by selling conspiracy theories about the vaccine, election fraud, and the collapse of American democracy. But I could be wrong. Maybe he really believes all this stuff.
Whatever the case, Metaxas uses his radio show and appearances to warn people that the apocalypse is coming. And how does he know the apocalypse is coming? Well, itâs all there in his Bonhoeffer biographyâon sale at MyPillow.Com (and donât forget to use the code word âEricâ).
In this video captured by Right Wing Watch, Metaxas is upset that a Lake Tahoe ski-lift attendant messed with his ârightâ not to wear a mask. Watch him draw a direct connection between this experience and the rise of the Nazis in Germany. (...)
Announcing the DOJâs warrant on his show Friday night, Shroyer professed his innocence, claiming that he would turn himself in on Monday morning. He also wasted no time starting the GoFundMe campaign for himself, which was shut down âby the platform on Saturday. By Sunday, Shroyerâs campaign was up and running on GiveSendGo.
As of Monday morning, Shroyer had raised over $160,000 on GiveSendGo.
Proclaiming to be the â#1 free Christian crowdfunding site,â GiveSendGo has become a safe haven for âfundraising by right-wing extremistsâ. In February, Right Wing Watch reported âthat members of the âProud Boys neo-fascist hate group facing federal charges for their roles on Jan. 6 began raising money on the platform. A data breach of the site in April showed that the hate group and its members raised more than $375,000 âthrough at least 11 different campaigns âon GiveSendGo, according to reporting by the Guardian.
It appears that Shroyerâs use of the platform goes against GiveSendGoâs own terms of service, which explicitly prohibits âitems that promote hate, violence, racial intolerance, or the financial exploitation of a crime,â a prohibition that extremists have found to be loosely applied, if at all.
Last week, we noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has turned religious-right activist Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel into hard-line anti-vaccine activist. On Wednesday, Staver appeared on a livestream hosted by World Prayer Network where he spent an hour spreading increasingly wild conspiracy theories while alleging that the vaccine is part of a globalist plan to depopulate the earth.
âWhat is involved in this is depopulation, population control to reduce the population of the planet, and to control everyone, and to do it by force and to have a tracking mechanism to determine whether or not youâve had one of these particular injections,â Staver said. âCOVID is being used as a mechanism for a bigger global agenda.â
When asked to explain how the vaccine is supposedly part of a conspiracy to depopulate the planet given that many vaccine advocates like Microsoft founder Bill Gates have taken it, Staver went deep down the rabbit hole.
âI donât know whether (Bill) Gates got it. I donât recall seeing anybody injecting his arm and if he did, who knows what they were putting in it,â Staver said. âBill Gates is definitely a social Darwinianist, like Adolf Hitler, like Margaret Sanger, like J.D. Rockefeller, like the Carnegie Institute, like (Henry) Ford. â¦ They were all Darwinianists, social Darwinianists. They believed in evolution, they believe that Blacks and people that were not white were not as evolved, and that the whites were the more evolved onesâand only certain kinds of whitesâand that was their ideology.â
âIf vaccines are supposed to make you more healthy, and you want to reduce population by 10 to 15 percentâwhich is going to be 700 million to a billion people on the planet, (Gates) wants to do that right away; about a billion people on the planet he wants to reduce and wipe off the planet now,â Staver continued. âYou have to ask yourself how youâre going to do that. And if vaccines actually make you live longer, why would you then say people need vaccines? Well, itâs because they know that when they inject them, they can put things in your body that ultimately affect your reproduction.â (...)