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LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR, GET THE SHOT!

A CHRISTIAN STATEMENT ON SCIENCE FOR PANDEMIC TIMES​

During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us were overwhelmed by the confusion, false information, quick reactions, and political arguments. These issues made it hard for Christians to show a clear and Christ-centered, science-based perspective on the pandemic. In August 2020, we put out a statement to briefly explain how science and faith could work together during that time. We were surprised by the positive response from many important Christian leaders and thousands of others who signed it. This statement helped us express our shared beliefs as Christians and brought more attention to an approach that was often ignored.

The COVID infection and hospitalization rates are thankfully down, and some of the language from 2020 might not apply today. We’re keeping this page as a snapshot of how our community got involved during that historic time, hoping that God will help us face future challenges with love and truth, even if we’re not perfect.


THIS STATEMENT HAS BEEN FEATURED IN…

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MEDIA INQUIRIES: MEDIA@BIOLOGOS.ORG
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OUR CALL TO ACTION

LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR. GET VACCINATED!

Vaccination is a concrete way you can care for your family, your church, and your community.

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THE STATEMENT

LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR, GET THE SHOT:
A CHRISTIAN STATEMENT ON SCIENCE FOR PANDEMIC TIMES

We, the undersigned, join together as Christians who uphold the authority of God’s Word and see science as a tool to understand God’s world. We call on all Christians to follow the advice of public health experts and support scientists doing crucial biomedical research on COVID-19.

We are deeply concerned about the polarization and politicization of science in the public square when so many lives are at stake. The word “science” has become a weapon in the culture wars. Scientists are vilified and their findings ignored, while conspiracy theories go viral. Sadly, Christians seem just as susceptible to these trends. Thoughtful Christians may disagree on public policy in response to the coronavirus, but none of us should ignore clear scientific evidence.

It is appropriate for Christians to be skeptical of claims made by scientists who speak outside their area of expertise. We firmly reject claims that science has somehow shown God does not exist or faith is mere superstition. Such claims go beyond what science is capable of investigating. We lament the times when science and medicine have been misused to perpetrate atrocities like the racist Tuskegee experiments. But Christians should listen to scientists and doctors when they speak in their area of expertise, especially when millions of lives are at stake.

The Bible teaches that our bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made by God (Psalm 139:14). Thus, those doing biomedical research—whether they are Christians or not—are studying the very handiwork of God. Scientists are discovering truths about the virus, our bodies, treatments, and vaccines. As Christians, we know that all truth, including scientific truth, is ultimately from God.

God can do miracles of healing, but God also uses doctors and scientists to bring healing. Before Jonas Salk discovered his vaccine, polio killed 350,000 people a year, most of them children. Christians in the biomedical sciences, like Dr. Francis Collins, see their work as continuing the healing ministry of Jesus (Matthew 15:30). Pursuing medical treatment is not a sign of weak faith in God, but a grateful acceptance of God’s gifts.

Scientists of all faiths at many universities and research institutes have been working hard to combat COVID-19, including at the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control. Many scientists have dropped their own research programs to devote themselves full time to understanding exactly how this virus works, how it spreads, how the disease can be treated, and which vaccines would be both safe and effective. Experts have been communicating their knowledge in real time as the pandemic progresses, which has led to some confusion. In the early days, they advised the public against masks when supplies were needed for healthcare workers, but later they changed their message in response to more data. A change in expert advice is not a sign of weakness or unreliability, but of good scientific practice and honesty. On the biggest points, scientific predictions have been proven right: scientists said stay-home orders would reduce cases, and thankfully those measures worked. Scientists predicted that ending quarantine too soon would increase cases, and that has been the case.

Scientists are not all-knowing and have biases like the rest of us. That’s why the process of scientific research has built-in steps for testing, vetting, and validation by the whole community. While any individual scientist may be biased, the community actively critiques each other’s work to reduce bias and errors until together they develop a consensus on what the data are saying. It’s not a perfect process and one can always find dissenters, but scientists working together are far more accurate than one person’s theory on YouTube. Scientists are trained to communicate where the consensus is uncertain and to not overstate conclusions. They may speak in sound bites in an interview, but if you listen a bit longer you will hear the caveats. So when Dr. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, tells us what scientists have learned about this infectious disease, he should be listened to.

We need more than science alone to make good decisions. Invoking “science” is not a one-word rationale for public policy; many factors need to be considered. The economic losses and social hardships of the pandemic are painful, and thoughtful Christians will disagree on how to balance those needs with health needs. Even closer to our hearts is the impact of quarantine on church fellowship. As churches reopen, Christians need to balance God’s call to meet together with God’s call to protect the vulnerable among us. We need more than science to make these decisions; we need biblical faith to be wise and discerning (James 3:13-18). As Christians throughout history have shown during other pandemics, our faith is what moves us to deep compassion for the sick, the young, the old, and the vulnerable, as we follow Jesus’ command to care for the least of these (Matthew 25:31-36). Our faith calls us to sacrifice ourselves for others and accept temporary limitations on our freedoms because we have a permanent and complete freedom in Christ (Hebrews 10:34). Our faith helps us be humble and patient when discussing contentious issues (Ephesians 4:2-3). It is our faith, not science, that overcomes fear and brings hope. God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1).

 

Therefore, because of our faith in Jesus Christ, we will:
WEAR MASKS

Wear masks in indoor public spaces and follow other physical distancing rules given by public health officials (1 Peter 2:13-17), unless there are underlying health conditions. Yes, wearing a mask is uncomfortable and awkward, but the evidence is clear that masks reduce the chance we will transmit the disease to others. Mask rules are not experts taking away our freedom, but an opportunity to follow Jesus’ command to love our neighbors as ourselves (Luke 6:31).

CORRECT MISINFORMATION

Correct misinformation and conspiracy theories when we encounter them in our social media and communities. Christians are called to love the truth; we should not be swayed by falsehoods (1 Corinthians 13:6). We will actively promote accurate scientific and public health information from trustworthy, consensus sources, and use this information when making decisions for our families, churches, schools, and workplaces.

GET VACCINATED

Get vaccinated against COVID-19 when you are eligible to receive one of the safe and effective vaccines and as directed by a physician. A large fraction of the population needs to be vaccinated to develop the community-level immunity which protects the immuno-compromised and others who cannot be vaccinated.¹ Vaccination is a provision from God that will prevent disease not only for ourselves but for the most vulnerable among us (Matthew 25:31-36).

WORK FOR JUSTICE

Work for justice for communities who have suffered the most deaths from COVID-19. Christians are called to be courageous in fighting for justice (Micah 6:8). We should be the least indifferent to the disadvantaged and vulnerable. Groups that have been hit hard include the elderly in nursing homes, the Navajo nation where many do not have access to clean water, and people of color who continue to experience discrimination in access to health care.

PRAY

We pray for God to heal the millions of sick, to comfort the thousands of grieving families, and to give wisdom to decision-makers. We pray for God to sustain biomedical and public health researchers as they work to develop treatments and a safe and effective vaccine. We pray for God to protect nurses, doctors, lab techs, and all healthcare workers fighting COVID-19 as they serve patients and our communities. And we pray for God to bless our cities and nation with justice and flourishing for all (Jeremiah 29:7).

¹Slightly revised since the statement was released and signed in August. Previously this said “when a safe and effective vaccine is available” instead of “when you are eligible to receive a safe and effective vaccine” and referred to “herd immunity” instead of “community-level immunity.”


WORLD RENEW STANDS WITH YOU IN THE SPACE OF EMBRACING SCIENCE

World Renew’s work with the Navajo and Zuni nations during this pandemic has highlighted again how the vulnerable are most affected. World Renew is working hard to help churches and communities see science as a God-given resource to combat sickness and hunger.

CAROL BREMER-BENNETT
United States Director, World Renew
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THIS WONDERFUL STATEMENT IS MUCH NEEDED FOR CHRISTIANS RIGHT NOW

This wonderful statement is much needed for Christians right now: an expression of gratitude to God for the expert guidance scientists are giving us in this pandemic, and a commitment to doing what each of us needs to do to serve the common good.

RICH MOUW
Author, Adventures in Evangelical Civility
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OUR CALLING AS FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST IS TO LOVE OUR NEIGHBORS

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which scientists and public health professionals are tirelessly working around the clock to tackle, I can think of no greater way to live out this calling than to lay down our rights for the cause of others’ health and well-being.

PRAVEEN SETHUPATHY
Geneticist, Cornell
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MY HOPE IS ENCOURAGED BY KNOWING I AM NOT ALONE

Many Christians accept what scientists have learned about COVID-19. We understand that wearing masks and staying 6 feet apart will slow the spread and save the lives of others. And we are willing to follow these rules—to give up some personal freedom—out of love for our neighbors (Luke 6:31).

DEBORAH HAARSMA
President, BioLogos
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SIGNATORIES

COMMITMENTS FROM LEADERS IN FAITH AND SCIENCE

The institutions listed are for identification of the signers, not necessarily institutional endorsement.

DEBORAH HAARSMA
PRESIDENT
BIOLOGOS
CURTIS CHANG
THEOLOGIAN
REDEEMING BABEL
CLAUDE ALEXANDER
SENIOR PASTOR
THE PARK CHURCH
CAROL BREMER-BENNETT
UNITED STATES DIRECTOR
WORLD RENEW
LUIS CORTÉS, JR.
PRESIDENT
ESPERANZA
DAVID ANDERSON
FOUNDING SENIOR PASTOR
BRIDGEWAY COMMUNITY CHURCH
KATHARINE HAYHOE
ENDOWED PROF OF PUBLIC POLICY & PUBLIC LAW
TEXAS TECH UNIVERSITY
JAMIE ATEN
FOUNDER AND CEO, HUMANITARIAN DISASTER INSTITUTE
WHEATON COLLEGE
DWIGHT BAKER
PRESIDENT
BAKER PUBLISHING
HARVEY CLEMONS JR.
PASTOR
PLEASANT HILL MINISTRIES
CHRISTIN L. HANIGAN
SENIOR SPECIALIST
ASSOC. OF PUBLIC HEALTH LABORATORIES
KENT ANNAN
DIR, HUMANITARIAN & DISASTER LEADERSHIP
WHEATON COLLEGE
APRYL BROWN
SCIENCE FACULTY / ITINERANT DEACON
WAYNE CNTY COMM COLLEGE / A.M.E. CHURCH
DARRELL L. BOCK
EXEC DIR FOR CULTURAL ENGAGEMENT
DALLAS THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
HEATHER JOHN
M.D.
TERRA FIRMA PSYCHIATRY
DARREL R. FALK
PROFESSOR EMERITUS OF BIOLOGY
POINT LOMA NAZARENE UNIVERSITY
KIMBERLY DENU
VP FOR EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS
COUNCIL FOR CHRISTIAN COLLEGES & UNIVERSITIES
OSCAR CHICAS
NATIONAL DIRECTOR
WORLD VISION NICARAGUA
ANGELA SIMS

PRESIDENT

COLGATE ROCHESTER CROZER DIVINITY SCHOOL
MICHAEL E. CHUPP
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
CHRISTIAN MEDICAL & DENTAL ASSOCIATIONS
PHILIP YANCEY
CHRISTIAN AUTHOR
FEARFULLY AND WONDERFULLY
DAVID FRENCH
SENIOR EDITOR
THE DISPATCH
TIMOTHY DALRYMPLE
PRESIDENT AND CEO
CHRISTIANITY TODAY
MARK LABBERTON
PRESIDENT
FULLER THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
JEFF HARDIN
CHAIR, INTEGRATIVE BIOLOGY
UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN
RONALD HOFMAN
CLINICAL PROF OF PEDIATRICS
MICH STATE COLLEGE OF HUMAN MEDICINE
EDWARD LARSON
PULITZER PRIZE FOR HISTORY
PEPPERDINE UNIVERSITY
JOSEPH L. GRAVES JR.
PROFESSOR OF BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES
NORTH CAROLINA A&T STATE UNIVERSITY
JUSTO GONZALEZ
HISTORIAN & THEOLOGIAN
ASOCIACIÓN PARA LA EDUCACIÓN TEOLÓGICA HISPANA
KEN KEATHLEY
DIR., L. RUSS BUSH CENTER FOR FAITH AND CULTURE
SOUTHEASTERN BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
RICK LINDROTH
VILAS DISTINGUISHED ACHIEVEMENT PROFESSOR
UNIV. OF WISCONSIN – MADISON
PATRICIA FITZGERALD BOCARSLY
PROVOST AND PROFESSOR
RUTGERS BIOMEDICAL & HEALTH SCIENCES
SCOT MCKNIGHT
PROFESSOR OF NEW TESTAMENT
NORTHERN SEMINARY
IAN HUTCHINSON
PROFESSOR OF NUCLEAR SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING
MIT
ARD LOUIS
PROF. OF THEORETICAL PHYSICS
UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD
SY GARTE
EDITOR IN CHIEF
GOD AND NATURE
GREGORY GRAY
PROF OF MEDICINE, GLOBAL HEALTH, & ENVIRON. HEALTH
DUKE UNIV SCHOOL OF MEDICINE
ROBERT RUSSELL
DIRECTOR
CENTER FOR THEOLOGY & THE NATURAL SCIENCES
CRAIG STORY
PROF OF BIOLOGY
GORDON COLLEGE
MICHAEL LEROY
PRESIDENT
CALVIN UNIVERSITY
CYMBELINE CULIAT
PRESIDENT & CHIEF SCIENCE OFFICER
NELLONE THERAPEUTICS
N.T. WRIGHT
SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW
OXFORD UNIVERSITY
JAY BUTLER
MEDICAL DOCTOR
CDC
DANIEL HARRELL
EDITOR IN CHIEF
CHRISTIANITY TODAY
RICH MOUW
AUTHOR
ADVENTURES IN EVANGELICAL CIVILITY
LISA SHARON HARPER
PRESIDENT & FOUNDER
FREEDOM ROAD, LLC
MIKE MCHARGUE
HOST
SCIENCE MIKE PODCAST
WILLIAM D. PHILLIPS
NOBEL PRIZE IN PHYSICS
UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND
ANDREW GINSBERG
EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT AND CHIEF DEVELOPMENT OFFICER
INTERVARSITY CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP
JEFF SCHLOSS
WALKER CHAIR OF BIOLOGY
WESTMONT COLLEGE
MARK VOGELZANG
PRESIDENT AND CEO
MAINE PUBLIC BROADCASTING
J. RICHARD MIDDLETON
PROF OF BIBLICAL WORLDVIEW & EXEGESIS
NORTHEASTERN SEMINARY
DOROTHY BOORSE
PROFESSOR OF BIOLOGY
GORDON COLLEGE
MICHAEL MIDDLETON
M.D.
MIDDLETON PEDIATRICS
MATTHEW EPPINETTE
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
CENTER FOR BIOETHICS & HUMAN DIGNITY
LARRY
LANGDON
PARTNER
MAYER BROWN LLP
APRIL MASKIEWICZ CORDERO
PROFESSOR OF BIOLOGY
POINT LOMA NAZARENE UNIVERSITY
JAMES
MARTIN
FORMER GOVERNOR
NORTH CAROLINA
MARK YOUNG
PRESIDENT
DENVER SEMINARY
GEOFF
TUNNICLIFFE
PAST SECRETARY-GENERAL
WORLD EVANGELICAL ALLIANCE
KEITH WARD
REGIUS PROF OF DIVINITY EMERITUS
OXFORD UNIVERSITY
FRANCIS SU
PROF OF MATHEMATICS
HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE
WALTER KIM
PRESIDENT
NATIONAL ASSOC. OF EVANGELICALS
BARBARA BRADLEY HAGERTY
Author and Journalist
THE ATLANTIC
JO ANNE LYON
GENERAL SUPERINTENDENT EMERITA
THE WESLEYAN CHURCH
PRAVEEN SETHUPATHY
ASSOC. PROF OF BIOMEDICAL SCIENCES
CORNELL UNIVERSITY
PETER WEHNER
SENIOR FELLOW
ETHICS & PUBLIC POLICY CENTER
KARA POWELL
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
FULLER YOUTH INSTITUTE
JULIA WATTACHERIL
ASSOC. PROF. OF MEDICINE
COLUMBIA UNIV IRVING MEDICAL CENTER
JENNIFER
WISEMAN
FELLOW
AMERICAN SCIENTIFIC AFFILIATION
NANCY LOW
FOUNDER
LOW & ASSOCIATES
CHARLOTTE WITVLIET
PROF AND CHAIR OF PSYCHOLOGY
HOPE COLLEGE
STEPHEN FREELAND
DIR, INTERDISCIPLINARY STUDIES
UNIV MARYLAND BALTIMORE COUNTY
GREG THOMPSON
PHYSICIAN
UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA
JIM STUMP
HOST
LANGUAGE OF GOD PODCAST
ANDING SHEN
PROF OF BIOLOGY
CALVIN UNIVERSITY
KEVIN J. VANHOOZER
RESEARCH PROFESSOR OF SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY
TRINITY EVANGELICAL DIVINITY SCHOOL
JOHN WALTON
PROF. OF OLD TESTAMENT
WHEATON COLLEGE
SHARON TERRY
CEO
GENETIC ALLIANCE
STEPHANIE SUMMERS
CEO
CENTER FOR PUBLIC JUSTICE
C DIANE MARTIN
PROF EMERITUS OF COMPUTER SCIENCE
GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIV
EDWARD B. DAVIS
DISTINGUISHED PROF OF HISTORY OF SCIENCE
MESSIAH UNIVERSITY
PHIL VISCHER
CREATOR
VEGGIE TALES

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