- The Central Methodist Mission in Greenmarket Square has raised a yellow banner on its steeple encouraging vaccinations.
- Reverend Alan Storey says are some who promote the false binary of "faith in God or faith in vaccines", asserting that inoculation is at odds with their religious faith.
- According to the most recent statistics released by the NICD, a total of 21 924 915 vaccine doses have been administered so far.
Refusing to take life-saving vaccines is a sign of foolishness, not faithfulness, a Cape Town church has argued as it raised a yellow banner on the steeple of the Central Methodist Mission in Greenmarket Square, encouraging people to get vaccinated.
The hand-painted banner, which reads "The blood of Jesus will not save you from Covid. Get vaccinated. Protect our health care workers", is part of the church’s endeavour to engage the public on topical issues "from a gospel perspective".
In the past, the church has protested against the persecution of people based on sexual orientation, as well as xenophobia, through the use of this "billboard" on its towering Gothic steeple in the city centre, to "provoke questions and reflection".
"Every single major religion encourages people to get vaccinated," said Reverend Alan Storey.
Since the start of the rollout, the church had encouraged inoculation, he said, and had also lent its voice to appeals for richer countries not to hoard their supplies.
"Vaccination is safe and effective. It has been proven over and over that vaccination reduces infection, hospitalisation and death."
According to the most recent statistics released by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), a total of 21 924 915 vaccine doses have been administered. Of those, 191 264 were administered in the last 24-hour reporting cycle. To date, 14 991 375 people are fully vaccinated.
The country last month officially exited the third wave of the pandemic. On Wednesday, 472 new confirmed Covid-19 infections were reported, as well as 62 fatalities, bringing the confirmed death toll to 89 049.
Government has urged those who have not yet got the jab to do so ahead of the festive season.
The South African Council of Churches has also advocated for vaccination, saying the science is "clear" and represents "the best hope to save lives in the midst of the pandemic".
Storey said there were individuals who promoted the false binary of "faith in God or faith in vaccines", asserting that inoculation is at odds with their religious faith.
'Sign of foolishness, not a sign of faithfulnes'
"Some Christian pastors have promoted Holy Communion as 'Covid medicine'. Others have stated that 'Jesus is my vaccine' securing immunity from Covid. Others have said, because of the 'blood of Jesus', Covid will 'passover' without touching me or my family.
"This religious pressure can tip a person over from vaccine hesitancy to anti-vaccination.
"These false binaries may end up having deadly consequences because Covid cares less for one’s religion. Covid does not discriminate according to one’s belief."
He argued that, since it was difficult to combat this belief without being perceived as attacking someone’s religion, "it is important that religious institutions themselves do so".
He criticised politicians, such as the African Christian Democratic Party which proclaimed it was against mandatory vaccination, saying this created suspicion that this was an actual possibility, and created a "sense that God will protect you".
This, he maintained, was "potentially murderous and highly irresponsible".
He also didn’t mince his words when referring to the Jacob Zuma Foundation’s Mzwanele Manyi’s comment ahead of a recent "welcome home" event for the former president, that "God’s atmosphere will ensure that coronavirus is blown away and not passed on between the attendees".
"It’s that kind of religious phrase that is ludicrous and potentially life threatening," he said.
Storey said he would "wait and see" if the church received any blowback from its bold move.
"It will be very disappointing if there is. Because simply, vaccination saves lives."
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