Corona sceptics seem to concentrate in independent churches


Northern Europe


Not everybody is thankful to receive the jab. Photo AFP, Oli Scarff

People from independent churches are more receptive to corona scepticism than members of the folk church. That’s the impression of observers in Scandinavia. But nobody has facts or numbers.

The Danish newspaper Kristeligt Dagblad writes about Birthe, a lady from one of the so-called free churches. During the first wave of infections in the spring of 2020, she was happy to follow the corona guidelines of the authorities, which were applied in her church as well.

But after that, she got the firm impression that a spiritual struggle was taking place behind the corona restrictions. And she thought that God Himself was revealing that to her. “I am convinced that it was God who spoke to me”, says Birthe.

She came at a distance from the church because she did not want to wear a face mask. “I knew that all this corona fear was built on a lie.”

Ideological pandemic

Birthe’s story is not unique. Many free church leaders recognise this “challenge” of vaccine sceptics. According to Kristeligt Dagblad, in Norway and Sweden, this is even stronger than in Denmark. The Nordic Pentecostal churches came even with a joint warning against misinformation by the “YouTube prophets”.

Kristeligt Dagblad refers to the free church magazine Udfordringen (The challenge) that is very sceptical about the pandemic. “The whole corona story is a fruit of crime, lies, manipulation, deception, coercion and covertness”, the editor Jakob Martini says. “My conscience and love for the truth forbid me to go under that system. It is an ideological pandemic.”

“Brain and lung damage”

One of the most outspoken free church sceptics seems to be Svein Magne Pedersen. This Norwegian preacher has been warning against the vaccine for months already, newspaper Dagen documents. He has called the vaccine “poisonous”, and the people who take it have “been deceived by the enemy.” The immunisation has “life-threatening harmful particles and toxins”.

Svein Magne Pedersen. Photo Facebook

His call is clear: “If you want to live, stay away from the syringe. Do not let your children get heart, brain and lung damage with the poison”, Pedersen warns.

The preacher, who works with his foundation “Misjonen Jesus Leger” (Mission Jesus Doctors), has a prayer service and invites vaccinated people to get in touch. In this way, the pollution in the blood can be “cleansed away”.

In Sweden, the other newspaper Dagen made an inquiry under 114 pastors from the free churches whether they were vaccinated. The conclusion was that 97 per cent of them were vaccinated themselves. Of the pastors, 20 per cent experienced discussion within their community about the subject.

Much louder is the protest against the corona passes to get access to the service. Even the archbishop of the Church of Sweden, Antje Jackelén, said she was not ready to accept that since the government had promised not to introduce such a pass earlier.

Many pastors went to get the jab to be an example. Photo EPA, Justin Lane

“God’s love and care”

The larger church families in Europe are quite willing to defend vaccination and the broader corona policies. In December, the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the Commission of Catholic EU Bishops (COMECE) came with a common call in favour of vaccination. As God showed love and care for people in the birth of Jesus, Christians should also give a “living witness” and show responsibility, according to the churches. Many national churches are connected to these networks. CEC brings together Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and Old Catholic denominations.

“We are of the opinion that vaccination is currently the most effective means of containing the pandemic and saving lives”, the chairmen of the two bodies say in the joint statement. Vaccination “is an act of love and care, but also responsibility and social justice.” They condemn “false information and unfounded claims.”

Also, the ‘pope’ of the Eastern Orthodox Churches, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, calls for vaccination. The same message comes from Patriarch Kirill from Russia, who urged Christians not to identify the vaccines and QR code with the “marks of the antichrist”.

Cardindal Müller. Photo Wikimedia, Dr Meierhofer

“Reason to be sceptical”

That does not say that some individual clergy people from the main churches express scepsis sometimes. The Norwegian Vart Land, for instance refers to parish priest Toralv Froysaa Lie from Tinn. He has posted some very critical posts on social media. “I am not an expert, but I choose to listen to more than one voice”, he wrote. “So far, I do not doubt that there is reason to be sceptical.”

A well-known example of a sceptic in the Roman Catholic Church is the German Cardinal Gerhard Müller. According to the Austrian radio ORF, Müller sees a powerful financial elite behind the corona measures. They see a chance now “to push through their agenda.”



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