Weekly column: How free am I in my choice regarding Covid vaccination?
Jorge Ruiz Ortiz
Please do me a favour and listen to three examples I give:
Example 1: at Bruce Springsteen's concerts on Broadway between 26 June and 4 July, people vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine first were not accepted in the audience. The difference between this vaccine and the other three (Moderna, Pfizer and Janssen) is that only AstraZeneca is composed of genetic material from the virus that is introduced into the nucleus of the vaccinated person's cells.
But in the end, this is the least of it. What is important in this news is rather what is not said. If those vaccinated with AstraZeneca could not attend these concerts, obviously, those not vaccinated would not be able to attend at all.
Jorge Ruiz (1969) was born in Barcelona, Spain. At the age of 19, he was converted to the Christian faith. He graduated in Journalism at the University of Barcelona and received a PhD in Theology at the Faculté Libre de Théologie Réformée in Aix-en-Provence, France. He serves as a Protestant pastor in Spain. He is assessor for the Trinitarian Bible Society for the Spanish and French projects. He is married and father of four.
Example 2: American football player Cole Beasley this summer posted on his Twitter account about the discrimination measures he faced in his team as a non-vaccinated player: daily PCR tests, wearing a mask at all times, physical distance from all teammates, not being allowed to leave the hotel, and so on.
Example 3: I recently saw a short video about the return to normality after vaccinations with some professors from the University of Chicago. It seemed to me that this could be seen as a preview of the discourse that the radical parties will later implement, first in the United States and then throughout the world.
In the video, I was particularly struck by the first interviewee, a professor of religion, who begins by saying that vaccines are a "gift" that gives you security but takes away your freedom. I only could but to think about God, who gave us life but commands our obedience.
Once again, what is essential is not what she says openly, but what she states implicitly: at the end of her brief intervention, she goes as far as to question whether the unvaccinated have the same right as the vaccinated to work, travel and attend cultural activities. Or even if you link her intervention with what the narrator says in the introduction to the video, to live in cities.
Discrimination against the unvaccinated
Have you read through the examples? For me, they clearly show what begins to be implemented in the United States: at the very least, the discrimination against the unvaccinated at all levels. All this can be extremely dangerous because if in the future there are new outbreaks of the coronavirus (which there will undoubtedly be), instead of questioning the actual efficacy of the vaccines (which are not really vaccines, but genetic treatment of disease), the blame will fall on the unvaccinated, who will become the scapegoat of society.
If conditions change, I don't think it impossible that we move very quickly from discrimination to stigmatisation.
Do I reckon it possible that this could happen in Spain? In principle, one would say that nothing could be further from the Spanish culture than this kind of measures, i.e., the spartan application of fundamental human laws. In fact, it seems that it is not even necessary to compel people to take the vaccines, as Spain is one of the most vaccinated countries in the world, with 78 per cent of the population fully vaccinated. We are a gregorian country par excellence! But this kind of coercion doesn't marry well with the Spanish temper.
A loophole for the law
Traditionally, we as Spaniards lived quietly according to the old dictum: "Hecha la ley, hecha la trampa", which means: "For every law, there is a loophole". But now Spain is in the framework of the European Union. As far as I understand, all the European Union does is follow the political dictates that come from the other side of the Atlantic.
Suppose progressive journalists repeat in unison what American progressive intellectuals say, and the left-wing parties put it into law in the end. In that case, this will be called the "universal democratic consensus" because the only thing the conservative parties do is conserve what the progressives have put into law.
How to do this in the church?
The past few months, I have been asking myself: How to manage this in the church, particularly the relationship between believers? Is there a biblical position on coronavirus vaccines?
The most precise answer I can give is what the apostle Paul teaches in Romans 14. There are matters where the Bible does not seem to provide a precise indication of where there are, in fact, differences of opinion and practice. In such cases, one should respect what other Christian choose freely according to his conscience. This is to serve and glorify the Lord who has redeemed us. Those who do not vaccinate should not judge those who vaccinate, and those who vaccinate should not condemn those who do not.
But that's not all, I think. In a more general sense, I would like to add something that cannot be overlooked: for a truly free and conscientious choice to be made, two conditions must first be met.
First, there must be complete and rigorous information about so-called vaccines and their effects. All scientific points of view are adequately presented, not only those that support the plans of governments. What are the differences between coronavirus vaccines and conventional vaccines? What are the differences between the four approved vaccines? How do they work?
Are the media properly informing that the European database on drug reactions, EudraVigilance, publishes weekly on the internet the adverse reactions to vaccines and that up to 15 June, there were more than 15,000 deaths and more than 1.5 million adverse reactions, half of them serious, in all the European Union? To be honest, I am afraid that's adequately reported. When people go to be vaccinated, are they informed about all this so that people freely give their "informed consent" to vaccines, as is still required by law?
And secondly, that the choice to be vaccinated or not has to be made in the absence of coercion. But if people get vaccinated to travel, have a social life or even work, it is no longer a genuinely free choice. Then people act out of fear of the social consequences of not getting vaccinated, which outweighs the fear of agreeing to put this experimental treatment into their own body.
The advocates of the "free choice" in other matters don't recognise it regarding the vaccines. For sure, this can be considered by many as a not so important fact. But as for me, this can be an idea to retain and a good starting point to discuss in the future other ethical issues as well.