The COVID-19 vaccine has been scientifically proven to save lives, but for a select group of people in the religious realm, one more important issue is at stake – eternal salvation.
Like that delta variant of the coronavirus spread, many Americans resist COVID-19 vaccines, some refer to the uncertainty of long-term side effects, others lack confidence in the medical field. Some vaccine opponents have been galvanized by the idea that the shot is “the mark of the beast.”
The “mark of the beast” in the New Testament Book of Revelation signals a fidelity to Satan or those who reject Godis a memorial to creation.
“Studies show that any conflict between religion and science is not about facts, they are more about values and morals,” said John Evans, a professor of sociology and religious studies at the University of California, San Diego.
What do ‘the mark of the beast’ the writing in Revelation says?
The apocalyptic biblical expression comes from Revelation 13: 16-18. According to the apostle John in New International Version Bible, a few animals will rule the Earth with cruelty. Their evil reach – which can be interpreted as covert manipulation – will require all traffickers to bear the mark of the beast. The apostle John did not identify the mark, although some theologians translate the Scriptures to associate the number “666” with it.
Pastor Darin Wood from First Baptist Church in the oil city Midland, Texas, wrote an editorial in August for the Midland Reporter-Telegram who said: “One of my church family asked an honest question: ‘Pastor, is the COVID vaccine the mark of the animal? I have been told that it is.’ Their question was honest and sincere and they were clearly choked on it.In kindness I answered ‘no’ and thought a little more about it.Until the question came again.And again.And again.
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“There are no indications that the vaccine matches the brand described by the Apostle John. a kind of labeling agent to indelibly identify those who are foolish enough to receive the vaccine.It is just not fair or logical to assume that such a broad conspiracy is possible at all.The question then arises as to why this great distrust of medical treatment has come. “
Why do people call the COVID-19 vaccine ‘the mark of the beast?’
Evans said the lack of trust in the government and the medical field is a driving force behind the belief in the “mark of the beast”.
“(Former President) Donald Trump knocked into American populism, and with that comes the disbelief of the experts,” Evans told USA TODAY. “There is a small group of people who believe in the ‘mark of the beast’, and I think what drives that thought process starts with various concerns about receiving the coronavirus vaccine that are not specifically religious.”
Evans said he suspects the popularity of the “animal brand” stems from an adherence to a social or political identity.
Peter Feaman, one of the top officials in the Republican National Committee in Florida, said last month that vaccines are “the mark of the beast” and can be compared to a “false god.” In May, Feaman wrote on her blog about Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who encouraged vaccines in Michigan: “Diabolical Michigan Governor Whiter wants her citizens to get the mark of the beast to participate in society.”
According to Evans’ research, the majority of the “mark of the beast” believers appear to be politically conservative and from a Protestant Christian background.
“People with spiritual beliefs that all things are influenced by religion are more likely to believe in the ‘mark of the beast’ found in every Christian Bible, but people will focus on specific passages in the Bible to support their belief system,” said Evans.
What do religious leaders say?
Harvest Christian Fellowship Pastor Greg Laurie said COVID-19 vaccines are not “the mark of the beast,” but many Christians may believe they are and believe the world is in what the Bible calls “the last days.” .
“The Bible speaks of someone identified as the ‘Antichrist,’ and he will demand that people have a ‘brand’ that people will receive to buy and sell,” Laurie told USA TODAY in an email. “The COVID-19 vaccine — or any vaccine — has nothing to do with this.”
Laurie, who has been vaccinated, said the mark would be a promise of loyalty to the Antichrist and no one would take the mark unconsciously.
“In Revelation 14, we learn that those who take the mark are doomed,” he said. “God will not judge men for taking anything unconscious.”
Misinterpretations of Revelation 13: 16-18 can stem from social media, where people can spread unreliable information, according to Laurie.
“People read erroneous comments and think they are true,” he said.
“Sometimes these statements are wrapped up to look like biblical prophecy,” he said, “but they are false and misused because many people do not understand what the Bible really says about these things.”
What do healthcare professionals say? Do people actually mention this as a reason to avoid the shot?
Nicole Williams, a nurse in the intensive care unit, said she has heard “the animal’s mark” as a reason not to be vaccinated many times.
“I’m hesitant because it’s new and we do not know the long term effects, but calling it ‘the mark of the beast’ is insane,” Williams told USA TODAY.
Williams has worked in hospitals in Texas, New York, California and Hawaii for his three years as a nurse.
She said the latest increase in COVID-19 cases has been “hell” and many younger people have died. She said vaccines are not a magic shot that heals everything, but they are one of many tools to fight the virus.
“I understand that people want to go back to how things were, but calling something you do not understand ‘the mark of the beast’ is extreme and harmful,” she said. “I’m exhausted and tired of seeing so many people die, but I will make my damn attempt to keep my patients alive.”
Emergency physician Stephen Smith at Hennepin Healthcare told the USA TODAY that he has not heard the ‘mark of the animal’ as a reason for not being vaccinated, but a few other strange reasons.
Smith said a woman brought her child in for fever and cough, and he explained that the child could have COVID-19. When he asked the mother if she had been vaccinated, Smith said her answer was “Oh no, that makes you a zombie.”
Other reasons Smith has heard for not being vaccinated include: do not want to be microchipped, it is beyond their worldview, vaccines were developed too quickly, they have not become ill, they are not at high risk, they do not trust on the government and they read that people have died from the vaccine.
“Social media plays a 100% role in the misconceptions about the vaccine,” Smith said. “They get all their information from Facebook and get all this rubbish.
“Anyone who tells you not to get the vaccine is lying either to you or an idiot or a combination of the two.”
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What do we know about the COVID-19 vaccines?
Peer-reviewed data have considered Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines safe and showed 94% to 95% efficacy against the virus, according to a study published in New England Journal of Medicine.
That same journal published that Johnson & Johnson single-dose shots provided protection against the virus and were effective against hospitalization and death.
September 20, Pfizer BioNTech released data that the vaccine was safe for children ages 5 to 11. The company received its full approval stamp from the Food and Drug Administration late last month.
Moderna has begun applying 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 have been vaccinated and 63.9% have received at least one dose.
By the end of September, 56% of the U.S. population is expected to be fully vaccinated and 59% by January 1, 2022, according to data from Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID vaccine animal brand? What the Book of Revelation says
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