Christians unite against COVID vaccine conspiracy theories

conspiracy theories

The Catholic bishop of Auckland, Patrick Dunn is urging Catholics in the diocese to cooperate with policies in place and for the community to combat COVID-19.

“In particular we recognise the importance during this Alert Level 3 period of not gathering in our churches, staying home unless essential, and not leaving the borders of the Auckland area.

“We offer our prayers for all who have been given the responsibility of decision-making and who are guiding our nation through this challenging time.

“We commit ourselves to support those endeavours in every respect.”

Dunn joined with church leaders in Auckland making the statement.

The combined statement is a response to the revelation that Efeso Collins, an Auckland City Councillor, is receiving online abuse from conspiracy-believing church-goers about the vaccine rollout.

Collins told the NZ Herald he’s been hearing conspiracy theories from church-goers about vaccines and COVID-19, including the likes that the vaccines contain microchips, that they can alter our DNA, and that they contain cells from aborted babies.

A new one that emerged this week is that some of the vaccines are running software that can be updated remotely, perhaps by 5g networks!

This week, Collins pro-vaccine stance came under particular focus with people’s vitriol directed against him, his faith and integrity.

“I’ve received a number of messages today with people saying the church should ex-communicate me and calling me to repent for supporting a vaccine rollout in South Auckland,” said the Manukau ward councillor.

While surprised by people’s response he said he was one among a number of church and community leaders who had been subject to online abuse.

In February the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference made it clear that the Conference rejects the false information circulating on the internet and elsewhere claiming vaccines should not be used.

The bishops urged everyone to have a Covid vaccine when it becomes available.

Conference President Cardinal Dew said the bishops took their advice about vaccines from reputable doctors, scientists and the bishops’ own bioethics agency, the Nathaniel Centre.

“Everyone, including Catholics, has a moral responsibility to protect themselves and others by getting a Covid-19 vaccine as soon as they become eligible for it under the Government’s planned vaccine programme.”

Dew also reminded everyone of what can happen when people don’t take advantage of vaccination.

The 2019-20 New Zealand measles epidemic happened because only about 80 per cent of the population were vaccinated, he said.

Religious historian Peter Lineham told The AM Show on Tuesday most churches would preach in favour of vaccination – including Pacific churches, which would feel an “obligation” to “deliver positive messages.”

“I think a lot of the problem comes that conspiracy theories generate amongst people who don’t have maybe the educational background or the cultural background that connects them to the scientific providers,” Lineham said.

“I think that’s where the problem comes – people who have got reason to be suspicious of the experts then start thinking, ‘they’re hoodwinking us, they’re telling us something that isn’t true’.”

“What happens in religious communities is kind of a whispering game, where people pass information from one to another and suddenly there’s a whole lot of people verifying something on no information at all. Once you’ve got that extra information, you feel ‘enlightened’ – you feel as though you see through the things that have been deceiving the world overall.”


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News category: New Zealand.

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