Unvaccinated Priests Are Not Christian | Opinion

Pregnancy terminations have long been the antithesis to the anti-abortion movement upheld by the Christian church. But here is the real confession—aren't the religious leaders who pontificate sanctimoniously from their pulpit about high moral standards terminating human life by refusing the vaccine against COVID-19? How can a priest feel comfortable playing a game of COVID Russian roulette with their congregation?

Parishioners who give their trust, time and money to the church—including those immunocompromised and elderly—expect a sense of overall community and safety. When clergy advocate against vaccination, their congregation is led into an orgy of epic COVID cesspool proportions marred with the endless strains attached to the Greek alphabet. How is prudent behavior addressed in many aspects of Christian life, yet ignored in light of a pandemic?

In the early months of the pandemic, priests fought against social distancing regulations and even mask mandates. The reasoning—to reopen their churches faster. The priests argued that if liquor stores could be open, then why not a house of worship?

I do not know about these priests, but I have never spent hours seated in the aisle of a liquor store communally pondering the essence of tequila while in close proximity to others. If a church service was like a convenience store's five-minute transaction then surely they would have remained open and increased in popularity for its brevity and lack of interference with Sunday football.

Some priests reopened their churches against CDC guidelines and allowed young and old to attend services in close quarters only to release them—after consuming communion from a shared spoon—back to society to spread the word of COVID ... I mean God.

Today, with vaccine accessibility, the same religious officials refuse to implement vaccine mandates and also urge their congregations to refrain from receiving the vaccine. As Greek media outlets reported, an Orthodox monk at the Mount Athos monastery wanted to get the vaccine, but was instructed not to by his elder. The monk later died of COVID complications along with three others.

Even after seeing their congregants die from COVID-19, some priests from around the world refuse to voice support for the vaccine, and they too are dying as a result. As church and science once again clash, it has become clear both cannot coexist when evidence and even biblical passages are ignored; such can be said for Proverbs 24:11-12 which states: "Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter."

A bird flies over cross
A bird flies over the cross of a 17th century church in Moscow's outskirts on the eve of Orthodox Easter on April 18, 2020. KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images

While priests hyper-focus on this passage as being God's stance against abortion, they miss their own reflection in the words they mirror before an altar and fail to apply to their own lives. The anti-vax priests are not watching their parishioners "stumbling" to slaughter as the passage might have one believe, but leading the way to mutual self-destruction.

Within American churches, far-right religious leaders spew the conspiracy theories that liberals are out to destroy Christianity; they believe the greatest attack against their religion was when the CDC recommended people celebrate the holidays with people in their household or when Starbucks changed their cups from Christmas-themed to a minimalistic red style. Caught between the intersection of fear and ego, these priests have missed the mark—liberals value life more than them.

The so-called anti-religious socialists continue to show more value and care for human life because they value life. The left fights for mandates geared toward the protection of all lives because all lives really do matter. Apparently anti-vaxxers do not have regard for the health and safety of the elderly, immunocompromised, or those without access to health care. It is not only about words said. Actions illuminate one's true nature.

Unvaccinated priests who believe that medical institutions and doctors are not to be trusted have led their followers to Christianity's ultimate destruction: extinction. We are living in a global pandemic that feels like a real-life allegory that explores the consequences that follow when we as a society stop caring for one another. The days of "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" are over. It is a sad day when a devout Christian is told by his priest that God will protect him from the virus instead of obtaining a vaccine, wearing a mask and practicing social distancing. Priests need to promote the truth, that the vaccine was not created to prevent catching COVID, but to prevent hospitalizations and death.

Recently, Pope Francis said getting the vaccine was a "moral obligation" and knows, like other true Christian leaders, the impact that refusing the jab will have not only the world, but to their religion. Should the priest whose arrogance took his own life be refused burial, as some churches refused burial to those who have died by suicide, according to church customs? Maybe it will take a shortage of male priest to finally allow women behind the alter.

In a religion where taking one's life is an unforgivable sin, what is the word for not getting a vaccine to save one's own life? What do we call the act of willingly infecting and killing a neighbor? Can we treat our body like a temple if we do not protect ourselves and others from a virus?

Being anti-vax shows no value to one's own life or the lives of others, and makes me wonder how men of such low character would be allowed to recite the words of God. To be an unvaccinated priest is to be against Christianity; it goes beyond being anti-abortion and ultimately is anti-Christian.

Costa B. Pappas is a Greek American writer and editor focused on feature stories, op-eds, and reviews. He is a graduate of American University and resides in New York City. You can find him on Twitter @CostaBPappas.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.