Most churches support vaxxing – but what of anti-vaxx end-times preachers?


It’s a fact that most Christian church leaders in New Zealand support the COVID health measures, including vaxxing – ie getting the Covid vaccinations. It’s also a fact that a few don’t and they’re scaring and confusing people.

Take, for example, the evangelical church Celebration Centre in Christchurch. Its pastors have been posting online sermons to their flock.

In these, the Centre’s founding pastors Murray and Nancy Watkinson​ have spoken often of their belief that humanity was in “the end times”.

Depicted in the book of Revelations, the end times is a climactic battle between supernatural forces of good and evil before the return of Jesus Christ.

The Watkinsons say the end times will test the loyalty and allegiance of Christians.

The Covid-19 vaccine could be the “mark of the beast” he says. This is another “end times” idea in the Biblical look of Revelations.

Those without the mark, enforced by the anti-Christ, would be excluded from being able to buy, sell and trade, they say.

“What if you’re not vaccinated, and they won’t allow you to go in to a supermarket to actually shop?”

“It kind of feels like you are coming under a police state.”

Despite noting he heard a scientist on a US Christian television talk show support vaxxing because “there was now scientific evidence it would prevent deaths and serious illness”, Watkinson’s not personally convinced.

“You’d have to be spiritually blind not to realise there’s something going on behind the Covid,” he says.

“They are already talking about another strain. They are talking about a booster, because they haven’t been able to control it.”

Destiny Church leaders, Brian and Hannah Tamaki, have gone public about their views. So are other online preachers like City Impact church leader Peter Mortlock​ and anti-vaxx preacher and conspiracy theorist Billy Te Kahika. This week Te Kahika held his first live social media video – a Bible study – since being arrested for an anti-lockdown protest on August 18.

Despite the few anti-vaxxers, most Christian churches and their congregations support vaxxing, just as they support the country’s pandemic response.

Most are of the view that getting vaccinated saves lives, shows community spirit and neighbourly love, and allows us to make use of our God-given brains to protect ourselves rather than bleating about end times.

Both the Anglican and Catholic churches have actively set out to encourage everyone to front up for the jab.

Catholic bishop Stephen Lowe​ says support for the vaccine is the “consistent message from the Pope down”. In New Zealand, the campaign, Love Your Neighbour As Yourself encourages those fearful of getting vaccinated because of misinformation.

Christchurch Anglican Bishop Peter Carrell says getting vaccinated “fits in with our consistent ethic for life, that this is actually about protecting other people in the community.”

Reverend Fitifiti Luatua of the Samoan Congregational Christian Church says the vaccine is about saving lives.

He has been instrumental in getting mobile vaccine clinics to Pacific churches to improve access for parishioners.


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News category: New Zealand.