"My 'Religious Exemption' requires that I receive the COVID vaccine to safeguard life and wear a mask to care for my neighbor," he explained.
A Washington pastor's thoughts about those who seek religious exemptions for public health protocols even during a global pandemic are going viral on social media. Pastor Keith Marshall, a pastor at Hope Lutheran Church in Enumclaw, Washington, recently wrote a column for the Enumclaw Courier-Herald titled "What does your faith exempt you from?" In the column, Marshall used his years' worth of Biblical knowledge and experience as a Man of God to explore what one's faith in Christianity exempted them from. "Religious Exemption is a term I have heard more in the past three months than the rest of my life combined," he wrote.
How is it possible to have a religious exemption for the vaccine? Where there vaccinations in biblical days? Are there passages saying thou shalt not puteth a needle that will save your life into thine arm? Was Jesus an antivaxxer? Can someone help me understand?— 🍸 Sindy 🍺 🔯 (@sinnndy1) September 18, 2021
"Recently I was asked if Christians should be able to claim Religious Exemption when public health is in jeopardy," Marshall continued. "Their question made me ask myself, 'What does faith in Jesus Christ exempt me from?'" The pastor went on to explain that his interpretation of what the Bible grants him agency to do was very different from those who refused to follow pandemic regulations in the name of their faith. "Below is a partial list of what came to mind. My faith in Jesus Christ exempts me from," he wrote.
As more employers require their workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19, more workers are finding religion.— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) September 23, 2021
Or rather, “sincerely held religious beliefs” that, they say, prevent them from getting the shots.https://t.co/3HkOeelWl5 pic.twitter.com/foEEHYWwai
One exemption his faith dictates, Marshall explained, is putting his "wants above the needs of others." "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.' - Philippians 2: 3, 4." The next, he wrote, is "claiming my freedom in Christ as liberty to act without responsibility." Marshall referenced Galatians 5: 13, 14 to support his statement. "You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge in the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: Love your neighbor as yourself," the verses read.
Another exemption dictated by his faith, the pastor pointed out, is the exemption from "Refusing to protect the most vulnerable in our midst." He pointed to Matthew 25:40, which states: "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." Marshall went on to point out that as per these three Biblical exemptions, those of Christian faith should ideally be the biggest advocates for face masks, social distancing, and the COVID-19 vaccines.
If you want a religious exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine, you won’t be getting a note from the Pope. https://t.co/2FZw3LZA6F— Science/Medicine 1st - The Ends Justify the Memes (@KnowWhatEyeMeme) September 16, 2021
"Therefore, my 'Religious Exemption' requires that I receive the COVID vaccine to safeguard life and wear a mask to care for my neighbor," he wrote. "Claiming the Christian faith is no jurisdiction to refuse these measures. By invoking the name of Jesus to claim exemption, you are using the Lord's name in vain and therefore sinning. Now, you may have your own political or personal reasons not to do so, but please, stop claiming your faith in Jesus Christ as justification." The pastor's words of wisdom quickly spread across social media as a number of netizens praised Marshall for finally addressing those who misuse religious exemptions to propagate COVID-19 conspiracy theories.
Should Christians be able to claim religious exemption from masks and vaccines? Not according to Pastor Keith Marshall. And he brought receipts. pic.twitter.com/3cILf6OxuT— Eric Rosswood (@LGBT_Activist) September 22, 2021
"Yes to ALL of this. And it isn't just vaccines - it is masking as well As a Christian, I struggle intensely with those who keep claiming these religious exemptions and putting the lives of others at risk in the midst of a pandemic," tweeted @YEpidemiologist. However, Marshall also faced a lot of hate online after sharing a screenshot of his Courier Herald column on his Facebook page. He ultimately made the post private and wrote in another post (which has also since been made private): "Well... it has been quite the day. A post I thought we go around my small Facebook world has literally gone around the world. While I still stand by what I wrote, I have made it private."
These are EXACTLY the Christian values I was taught. Not quite sure where the far right version came from…— kelly greene (@kgreene90) September 22, 2021
This atheist approves of this article.— The TweeetyByrd Dossier (@byrdTweety1) September 22, 2021
Love thy neighbor! Get vaccinated and wear masks indoors. We should be doing everything we can to protect not only ourselves but others. I love this article. Thank you for sharing!— . (@marcar757) September 23, 2021
"I know that it is out in the world, which I can handle. However, I am beginning to receive attacks and slander on my family. My heart is broken with nasty things written. I want to thank so many for the outpouring of love and support today. You mean the world to me," he continued. "For those who disagree with me and really want to talk, I can always find time for civil discourse with you."