By Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Published Oct 18, 2021
Mennonite Church Canada (MCC) has announced they won’t pursue religious exemptions for those who do not want to get a COVID-19 vaccine, because they say they see nothing in their faith that would warrant that type of exemption.
“For a religious exemption to be granted, rationale for exemption must be clearly indicated within our sacred texts or confessional statements,” the Winnipeg-based organization which represents more than 31,000 members in hundreds of churches across the country said.
“We wish to clarify that there is nothing in the Bible, in our historic confessions of faith, in our theology, or in our ecclesiology that justifies granting a religious exemption from vaccinations against COVID-19.”
Religious exemptions to getting a COVID-19 vaccine are based on the argument that a person’s own religion or their beliefs exclude them from having to get vaccinated, however even if a religious group was to grant exemptions, that decision would still need to be validated by government.
In the statement, which was signed by the six executive ministers of Mennonite Church Canada, they said they have been fielding inquiries from constituents regarding exemptions from COVID-19 vaccines, but that they, as an organization, believe the vaccines are a way for people to protect their own health, and the health of others.
“From the earliest biblical writings, in the words of Jesus Christ and in ecclesial writings since Jesus’ ascension, the command to love God and love our neighbour is paramount,” the statement read.
“Vaccinations allow us to live out this command. Not only do they reduce the severity of symptoms for those who become infected with COVID-19, but they reduce the risk of spreading the virus to those around us.
“We pray for unity among us in the Spirit of Christ, who calls us into this life of love, especially for our most vulnerable neighbours.”
The organization is also telling its members they should seek all medical advice directly from doctors and health care professionals.
“We also note that individuals should make personal health care decisions based on advice given by their doctors,” the statement read.
In an email sent to the Winnipeg Sun, a provincial spokesperson said that under current health orders there is no situation where the province would accept or approve of any religious exemptions to COVID-19 vaccines.
“Currently, for those eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination there is no exemption for religious reasons,” the spokesperson said. “At this time, we are only permitting a medical exemption under very specific circumstances.”
— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
This item is reprinted with permission from Winnipeg Sun. See article HERE.
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