Should pastors stay neutral on the vaccine?

CNN reports that the founding pastor of Hillsong Church maintains that whether or not to receive a COVID vaccine is a personal choice to be made in consultation with healthcare providers. This comes in the context of a church member (who was only 30) dying from COVID-related pneumonia.

Read the article here.

I’m not entirely sure why this story is the top headline on CNN.com. I can only surmise that it’s because the editors believe that somehow not demanding congregants receive the vaccine is somehow wrong.

Should pastors be speaking with greater force on this matter? Does silence by Christian clergy harm the greater good?

I don’t have the platform or influence of someone like the pastor in question. I’m an ordinary pastor of an ordinary congregation in an ordinary suburban town in the midwest.

However, that’s immaterial.

In the end, I am deeply concerned that a/the main segment of people who are/seem to be holding down our nation’s vaccination rates are people who profess to follow the Lord Jesus Christ.

It’s concerning that these people seem to believe that they have little to no duty to care for their neighbors, a fundamental teaching of Christ.

It’s also disturbing that these self-professed Christians are acting this way on the basis of false (or, at least, questionable) information.

And, it’s disturbing that these convictions seem to–at a fundamental level–have been shaped by one man, Donald Trump.

The authority of the Christian church is ministerial and declarative. As a pastor, I am not part of a body that makes or enforces civil law. I do, however, have a duty to speak Christian truth.

And it’s my conviction that failing to take the vaccine, unless on the basis of medical advice, is to seriously harm your neighbor.

This terrible virus will not be dispatched unless we are able to get a majority of our population vaccinated.

And its shameful that the name of Christ should be attached to the militant and narcissistic attitudes that so many are evincing who reject vaccine science.