David Robertson, a Sydney-based evangelist, weighs in on vaccine passports for churches.
"Churches need to think carefully and be prepared for the day when governments may make a mandate which will require all who go to church to have the vaccine," he wrote on a column for Christian Today.
This was in response to Scotland's intention to distribute COVID vaccine passports at the end of the month. While the proposal seems to be for "non-essential settings" such as "nightclubs and adult entertainment" establishments, and does not appear to directly impact churches, Robertson observed that "mission creep" is a common trait of such plans.
He also thought it necessary to address some of the arguments made from the Christian community that support complying with the vaccine passport.
For those who support it
Those who support vaccine passports believe that taking the vaccine is an act of love to your neighbor and should thus be promoted, Robertson said.
In response, he explained that being vaccinated "may be an act of love," but love cannot be imposed by the state.
Those in favor of vaccinations point out that there will be individuals who will refuse to attend church, thus effectively excluding themselves, since they do not want to be around unvaccinated people.
Robertson argued that if those who have been vaccinated think they are immune to the virus or that their vaccination reduces their risk of getting a severe disease or death, then why should they be afraid of others who have chosen not to take it?
Others say that it is all about ensuring the safety of the public.
Robert remarked that if they really want absolute safety, then all public worship meetings should probably be shut down for consistency. This way, everyone would be certain that nobody in church ever caught something from someone else.
Some church leaders may be worried about public testimony. If businesses and organizations need vaccination passports to 'protect the community,' they worry that it would be embarrassing if churches were one of those groups that didn't.
Robertson said that the Church is not a business that should be worried about its image. He stated that although there are certain situations when denying entry to a wrongdoer into a church is justified, this does not include those who chose not to get vaccinated.
Others believe that if the government enacts it, churches are obligated by the often abused passage in Romans 13 to comply with the government's policies even if they disagree with them.
Resist tyranny as God's people
Robertson argued that there are limitations to government obedience and that the only time churches would be forced to comply is when they are under authoritarian dictatorship.
"When the State tells the Church who can and who cannot come to church, we simply say 'no'. Thus far and no further; you are way over the line," he pointed out.
"We must tell government now that there are no circumstances in which we will obey any government dictate which tells us how, when and who can worship," he added.
Regardless of one's religious affiliation or denomination, Robertson believes that if all Christians banded together to proclaim the Church's spiritual independence from measures which breach their conscience, then there is a chance for governments to rein in tyrannical legislation and prevent it from becoming law.
In a forceful statement, he said, "The Church cannot be bullied by irrational people who demand that others should be excluded in order to cater for their fears."