Thousands of Australian church leaders have signed a letter addressed to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, asking the government to refrain from enforcing vaccine passports.
Morrison, who has thrown his support behind the use of vaccine passports despite resistance within the Coalition, did not mandate vaccine passes on a federal level but hopes businesses and state governments would implement such a system.
Titled "Declaration of Ezekiel," the letter addressed to the Australian Prime Minister earned almost 3,000 signatures from church leaders and more than 14,000 signatures from churchgoers across different denominations, CBN News reported. The letter, which just last week earned 1,000 signatures, was penned by three pastors from Baptist churches who gave arguments against mandating vaccine passports.
"Free citizens should have the right of consent, especially when the vaccine rollout has been labeled as a 'clinical trial,'" the pastors wrote in the letter, citing concerns over a two-tiered society as the first argument against vaccine passports. "Imposing a 'vaccine passport' when the nation is already divided on the matter risks the creation of medical apartheid."
Another reason, the church leaders said, was that mandates on vaccine passports will add unnecessary stress for Australian citizens who are already struggling with their mental health as a result of the lockdowns.
Third, the church leaders said that human conscience must not be coerced, while fourth, vaccines are not "foolproof" and must not be used as justification to return to normal, pre-pandemic life.
Lastly, the church leaders lamented vaccine passports for those who are unvaccinated who will be denied entry to any place of worship.
The Prime Minister said in August that Australian businesses under the property law may ask people to present a proof of vaccination, saying it was a "legitimate thing for them to do" because businesses were "doing that to protect their own workers, to protect their other clients,"The Guardian reported.
He added, "It's got nothing to do with ideology, and these issues around liberty and so on. We all believe in freedom, but we also believe in people being healthy."
Meanwhile, several Members of the Parliament from The Coalition have expressed their disapproval of vaccine passports, with Queensland MP George Christensen calling it a "coercive measure" that will force Australians to get vaccinated against COVID or be denied "services and rights that will be available to others."
Christensen's petition opposing vaccine passports stated, "A free and democratic society should never restrict or withdraw freedoms or force people into undertaking a medical procedure or require private medical information to be divulged to others."
According to the Epoch Times, the Australian Christian Lobby managing director responded to the letter by posting on Facebook that "coercion is a very, very serious misstep." The Centre for Independent Studies' Culture, Prosperity & Civil Society program director Peter Kurti added that "Vaccine passports do not amount to a compulsion to get vaccinated, but they may add to the pressure to do so."
Right now, Australia has 30.8% or 7.82 million of its entire population. It is currently on its third and highest increase in new COVID cases with a daily average of 1,500.