A pastor in Rocklin, California, is handing out “exemption letters” to people who oppose taking a vaccination against COVID-19.
Greg Fairrington, pastor of Destiny Christian Church, said he is not anti-vaccine but is pro-freedom, particularly as it pertains to religious liberty.
“On Sunday, we prayed for educators, nurses, doctors, and first responders who are being mandated to get the vaccine or lose their job,” he explained in a social media post on the church’s account. “Many feel morally compromised by taking it — let this prayer speak to you if you’re in the same situation.”
During an interview with the local news outlet KCRA-TV, Fairrington said his church has received “hundreds of phone calls” from state government employees and health care workers who have been mandated to take a vaccination against COVID-19.
“America is a free country,” the pastor said. “We have freedom of religion and if a person has a moral objection to taking a vaccine, we want to come alongside of them.”
He went on to say the lines on Sunday, of people who wanted to receive an “exemption letter” were “enormous,” adding people were emotional as they received the forms.
The pastor further buttressed, “I wouldn’t say we’re anti-vaccine,” he told the outlet when he was asked if he opposes the COVID-19 inoculations. “Now, if we start looking at how some of it was developed, we would have another conversation. But I’m for freedom of conscience. I want people to make a choice, and if a person feels morally compromised, then we want to give them the ability to say, ‘This is something I don’t want to participate in.’”
“So I wouldn’t say we’re anti-vaccine at all,” Fairrington continued. “Some of my closest and dearest friends have taken the vaccine.”
Regarding religious exemptions, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who, in addition to serving as director for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is the chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, believes the White House should “look at” such waivers.
“If there is a legitimate religious exemption, fine,” he told USA Today. “I am one of the people that respect the tenets of religion. But if people make it up, and it’s really a philosophical reason and they’re saying it’s religious, that’s not good.”
Several prominent Christian leaders have encouraged people to take a COVID-19 vaccination.
In mid-March, the Rev. Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse, said there could be harmful consequences if pastors discourage their congregants from receiving the shots.
“I would hope that the pastors in the pulpit would tell people how they can be saved from God’s judgment,” he said at the time. “I think for a pastor to tell someone not to take the vaccine is problematic because what would happen if that person got coronavirus and died?”
“I think if there were vaccines available in the time of Christ, Jesus would have made reference to them and used them,” Graham added.
And earlier this month, Dan Darling, senior vice president of communications for the National Religious Broadcasters Association, penned an editorial in USA Today, urging fellow Christians to get inoculated against the contagious virus.
“This feat of innovation and production was a uniquely American success story, akin to the way in which America rallied during World War II to step up defense production to defeat the fascist threat,” he wrote. “I’m proud that our American companies were able to put aside their competitiveness, share resources and work with the government to produce a life-saving vaccine.”
He noted he supports vaccination efforts because he doesn’t “want to see anyone else die of COVID.”
“Our family has lost too many close friends and relatives to COVID, including an uncle, a beloved church member and our piano teacher.” Darling wrote. “There are not many things in the world today that are worthy of our trust, but I sincerely believe the COVID-19 vaccine is one of them.” He concluded.