The COVID-19 vaccine has been scientifically proven to save lives, but for a select group of people in the religious arena, a bigger question is at stake – eternal salvation.
As the delta variant of the coronavirus spreads, many Americans are resistant to COVID-19 vaccines, some citing uncertainty of long-term side effects, others lacking confidence in the medical field. Some vaccine resistors have been galvanized by the idea that shooting is the “mark of the beast.”
The “mark of the beast” in the New Testament book of Revelation signals allegiance to Satan or to those who reject God’s memorial of creation.
“Studies show that any conflict between religion and science is not about facts, but rather values and morals,” said John Evans, professor of sociology and religious studies at the University of California at San Diego. .
What does the writing of the “mark of the beast” say in Revelation?
The biblical term apocalyptic comes from Revelation 13: 16-18. According to the apostle John in the New International Version Bible, a pair of beasts will rule the Earth with cruelty. Their evil reach – which can be interpreted as hidden manipulation – will force all people who engage in trade to wear the Mark of the Beast. The apostle John did not identify what the mark looks like, although some theologians translate the scriptures to associate the number “666” with it.
Pastor Darin Wood of the First Baptist Church in the oil town of Midland, Texas, wrote an op-ed in August for the Midland Reporter-Telegram which read: “A member of my church family asked an honest question: ‘ Pasteur, is the COVID vaccine the mark of the beast? I was told it is. Their question was honest and sincere, and clearly, they were anxious about it. In the kindness, I answered “no” and I thought about it a little more. Until the question comes back. And even. And even.
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“There is no indication that the vaccine matches the brand described by the apostle John.… I have been sent many articles and videos… that (suggest) that the vaccine represents a government control conspiracy or that the vaccine contains a sort of marking to indelibly identify those who are crazy enough to receive the vaccine. It just isn’t reasonable or logical to assume that such a large conspiracy is even possible. The question then arises as to why this big distrust of medical treatment has arisen. “
Why do people call the COVID-19 vaccine the “mark of the beast?”
Evans said the lack of trust in government and the medical field is a driving force behind the “mark of the beast” belief.
“(Former President) Donald Trump tapped into American populism, and with that comes expert disbelief,” Evans told USA TODAY. “There is a small group of people who believe in ‘the mark of the beast,’ and I think what drives this thought process begins with various concerns about receiving the coronavirus vaccine that are not specifically religious. “
Evans said he suspected the popularity of the “mark of the beast” stemmed from adherence to a social or political identity.
Peter Feaman, a senior official with the Florida Republican National Committee, said last month that vaccines are “the mark of the beast” and comparable to a “false god.” In May, Feaman wrote on his Gov. Gretchen Whitmer blog promoting vaccines in Michigan: “The evil Michigan Governor Whiter wants his citizens to get the mark of the beast for participating in society.
According to Evans’ studies, the majority of “Mark of the Beast” believers appear to be politically conservative and come from Protestant Christian backgrounds.
“People with spiritual beliefs that all things are influenced by religion are more likely to believe” the mark of the beast, “which is found in every Christian Bible, but people will focus on particular passages in the Bible. to support their belief system, ”Evans said. .
What do religious leaders say?
Pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest Christian Fellowship said COVID-19 vaccines are not “the mark of the beast,” but many Christians may believe, thinking the world is in what the Bible calls “the last days “.
“The Bible talks about someone identified as ‘the Antichrist’ and he will require people to have a ‘mark’ that people will be given to buy and sell,” Laurie told USA TODAY in an email. “The COVID-19 vaccine – or any vaccine – has nothing to do with any of this. “
Laurie, who was vaccinated, said the mark would be loyalty to the Antichrist, and no one would take the mark without knowing it.
“In Revelation 14 we learn that those who take the mark are doomed,” he said. “God will not condemn people for taking something unintentionally.”
According to Laurie, the misinterpretations of Revelation 13: 16-18 can come from social media where people can spread unreliable information.
“People read the wrong comments and believe they are true,” he said.
“Sometimes these statements are packaged to sound like Bible prophecy,” he said, “but they’re wrong and misapplied because a lot of people don’t understand what the Bible actually says about these things. “
What do health workers say? Do people cite this as a reason to avoid the shot?
Nicole Williams, a traveling intensive care unit nurse, said she heard the “mark of the beast” as a reason for not getting the vaccine multiple times.
“I’m hesitant because it’s new and we don’t know the long term effects, but calling it the ‘mark of the beast’ is crazy,” Williams told USA TODAY.
Williams worked in hospitals in Texas, New York, California, and Hawaii during her three years as a nurse.
She said the latest wave of COVID-19 cases has been “hell” and many young people have died. She said vaccines are not a magic vaccine that cures everything, but that they are one of the many tools to fight the virus.
“I understand people wanting to go back to where they are now, but calling something you don’t understand ‘mark of the beast’ is extreme and harmful,” she said. “I am exhausted and tired of seeing so many people die, but I will do my best to try to keep my patients alive.”
ER doctor Stephen Smith of Hennepin Healthcare told USA TODAY he didn’t hear the “mark of the beast” as a reason for not getting the shot, but a few other weird reasons.
Smith said a woman brought her child with a fever and cough, and he explained the toddler could have COVID-19. When he asked the mother if she had been vaccinated, Smith replied that his answer was “Oh no, that turns you into a zombie”.
Other reasons Smith heard for not getting the vaccine included: not wanting to be chipped is outside of their world view, vaccines were developed too quickly, they didn’t get sick, they are not at high risk, they do not trust the government and they have read that people have died from the vaccine.
“Social media plays a 100% role in vaccine misconceptions,” Smith said. “They get all their info on Facebook and get all this garbage.
“Anyone who tells you not to get the vaccine is lying to you or is an idiot or a combination of the two.”
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What do we know about COVID-19 vaccines?
Peer-reviewed data has found the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines safe, and they have shown 94% to 95% efficacy against the virus, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The same journal published that the single dose of Johnson & Johnson offered protection against the virus and was effective against hospitalization and death.
On September 20, Pfizer BioNTech released data indicating that its vaccine was safe for children aged 5 to 11. The company received its full approval from the Food and Drug Administration late last month.
Moderna has started the application process for a full license, and Johnson & Johnson plans to apply this year.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 54.7% of Americans are vaccinated and 63.9% have received at least one dose.
By the end of September, 56% of people in the United States are expected to be fully immunized and 59% by January 1, 2022, according to data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.