– Pacific churches have called on Christian leaders not to take advantage of the COVID-19 situation in Fiji to manipulate Christians and proselytize.
In a statement, Pacific Conference of Churches General Secretary, Reverend James Bhagwan, noted with concern the use of misguided theology by some Christians to create.
“Over the past few months, some church communities are using immature or undeveloped theology to play to the fears and anxieties of the community,” Bhagwan said.
“In particular, some are manipulating theology, for example on the supreme authority of God and telling their congregations that following COVID-19 prevention protocols such as physical distancing, maintaining bubbles, wearing masks, and taking the vaccine is like saying ‘I don’t have faith and I’m not holy’.
“The impact of COVID-19 has severely impacted the social and economic situation in Fiji.
“The symptoms of mental health issues related to lockdowns and uncertainty, lack of economic empowerment, violence in the home and also in the community, children missing out on education etc.
“Christianity calls us to demonstrate our faith in God through love, compassion and care for one another and in particular the least among us.
“As members of the Body of Christ we are called to support the work of Jesus to ensure that people may enjoy abundant life (John 10:10).
“We also note that there are many rumours on social media based on images, videos taken out of context and incorrect or fake news which are being spread within the Christian community.
“Some of this is based on a growing mistrust of the government and is being expressed in religious language, particularly by some who believe that they are part of the fight of good versus evil.
“Those who are feeding fear into the community, have an incentive to keep stoking that fear because people keep clicking on these posts, and people keep listening.
“Social media has made it easy to amplify vaccine misinformation and active disinformation – calling the virus a hoax, saying that masking was a sign of fear, that the vaccine was a ‘mark of the beast’ or that it would ruin our immune systems, and suggesting the virus is a cover-up for billionaire Bill Gates to implant traceable microchips into people.
“The mark of the beast, from a Christian faith perspective, is taken from the Book of Revelation – a vision attributed to the Apostle John.
“Over the almost 2000 years since this vision, the ‘mark of the beast’ has been taken out of context and proof-texted to almost every major crisis humankind has faced. It is saddening that something that is actually lifesaving as a mark towards something that is anti-Christian or anti-faith.”
“There is also disinformation that nano-chips are being implanted in vaccines, which will allow the government and corporations to surveil people who get the vaccine. Microsoft founder Bill Gates and cell towers using 5G technology are also allegedly involved.
“To this we note that if the technology did exist and was cost-effective, the microchips would have to find their way into the many different vaccines created by different companies all over the world.
To those who are listening to these types of rumours, we simply say that a normal cell-phone with current 3G and 4G towers can already do that.
“In terms of misinformation or wrong information, we note a video stating that vaccines will alter your DNA, the molecule that contains a person’s genetic code. However the video appears to confuse DNA with messenger RNA, which are entirely different molecules, used by the new vaccines to direct cells to create components of the Coronavirus, though not the entire thing. Immune cells detect those components and create antibodies that ward off the actual coronavirus should a person be exposed.”
The Fiji Council of Churches is expected to issue a similar statement today.
SOURCE: PCC/ISLANDS BUSINESS/PACNEWS