There’s ongoing debate about the pros and cons of Vaccine passports. The concerns are particularly coming from those who see such measures as an assault on individual liberties. This means that we’ve seen some Christian leaders speaking out against them.
The fear cited is that such measures will lead to people being excluded from church gatherings because they are unwilling or unable to take the vaccine. Well, there should come a tipping point where enough people have had both doses of the vaccine to ensure a level of protection, a kind of herd immunity if you like. However, until that’s the case, we are going to still have limitations in place. Currently churches are limited in terms of capacity by the 2 metre rule and by other restrictions on what they can and cannot do. A church with a congregation of about 80 is likely to find that only about 15-20 people can attend. That means that about 60 people from the existing congregation are excluded. As many churches, of their own accord have introduced booking systems, it also means that any visitor just looking to drop in is likely to be excluded too.
Now, I’ve argued that the vaccine passport should combine a check on whether someone has had the vaccine with the option to take a COVID-19 test at the door.* Now, every once in a while you might get a false positive but most people on most weeks will be able to enter the building without problems if such measures are in place. The positive sides to this are that this should reduce or even remove the need for social distancing and other restrictions. Furthermore, it will increase the confidence of many people to attend.
In fact, the only people likely to be excluded are those with such a strong resistance to any checks on libertarian grounds that they will nether show evidence that they’ve had the vaccine nor take a lateral flow test. In reality, even the most vocal and prominent Christian libertarians should be able to cope with that.
So, my stance is this. What is most important to us? Is it a libertarian political philosophy which isn’t even in the Bible? Or is it the possibility of opening up and welcoming many spiritually hungry people who don’t share our libertarian sensitivities? I appreciate as I write this that there will remain a wariness among some who are concerned about longer term loss of liberties if temporary restrictions become permanent. It is important that we pay attention to those concerns and don’t let down our guard on such things. However, at the same time, I’d urge believers to prioritise our focus on how we share the good news with as many as possible
- *In fact the government proposal is to have three criteria. The first is the vaccine certificate, the second a recent test as per schools and the third antibodies shown from a positive PCR in the last 6 months. In other words the aim is to give people confidence that they can turn up and the only reason you would not enter a premises is if you have a positive test on or close to the day. In which case as with any other infectious illness you might have to stay home for 1 or 2su Sundays at most