Seeing the COVID pandemic unfold through the eyes of the Christian church has troubled me. As we continue to encourage people to vaccinate themselves, I have seen some Christians online claim the vaccine is the “mark of the beast” – a mark which will bar you from the gates of heaven. For example, I have seen people use Revelation 13:16-18 from the New Testament as justification for this conspiracy. It says: “And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: 17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. 18 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.” People specifically connect verse 17 with the vaccine, since rumors claim that vaccination may become mandatory to travel, work, or generally function in society.
Additionally, it was rumored that the vaccine contained luciferase, a compound whose name makes people think of Lucifer – the devil. Luckily, pharmaceutical companies have made the vaccine’s ingredient list available, laying these false claims to rest. Although I have seen the “mark of the beast” conspiracy circulate the internet a few times, the most popular conspiracy theory I have seen is that masks are harming us and that the real pandemic is fear. In their minds, the church ought to teach “faith over fear” because fear and panic are said to not come from the Lord.
I find it concerning that those representing the church cannot distinguish between healthy caution and panic, as it is the recklessness of not exerting proper precautions that has led to the pandemic’s prolongation. Masks have been proven to significantly reduce transmission of Covid while not limiting our capacity to breath; yet, recently I saw that a pastor my mom was watching was spreading anti-mask propaganda on national television. Although I agree that we should not go into panic mode, spreading the narrative that masks should not be worn is extremely dangerous and selfish. Personally, I saw my step-dad’s church suffer the consequences of not taking proper precautions: a couple months ago, the entire church caught the virus at the same time, ultimately killing the pastor and making many others sick.
How is your church/religious group keeping safe during the pandemic while still practicing? Have there been any popular conspiracy theories regarding Covid and your religion?