There are two things I need to say right up front. One, getting a COVID-19 vaccine is a safe and effective way to prevent yourself and others from getting really sick and possibly dying. Two, no good conversation ever starts with, “I’m going to tell you what God told me to tell you.”
But that’s how right-wing extremist pastor Shane Vaughn began his diatribe of vaccine misinformation on his First Harvest Ministries broadcast on Aug. 27.
“I’m going to tell you what God told me to tell you,” Vaughn says, sitting in front of a bookshelf displaying a framed “1776” placard next to a wedding photo. To his left is a print of “The Prayer at Valley Forge” — you know, the painting of George Washington kneeling in the snow by a horse. Trust me, you’ve seen it.
“If you’re one of those that’s trusting in anything besides God,” Vaughn says, “let me tell you something. They’ve got variants coming that ain’t no vaccine going to work for. This nation is under the judgment of God. And I want to tell you something right now: They’re already admitting that the vaccine is alarmingly not working. Alarmingly! They’re alarmed at what they’re seeing.”
Okay, that’s a lot to unpack.
Let’s start with his claim about COVID-19 variants for which there are no vaccines. That sounds scary! Because it is! Is it true, though? Well, yes and no. Vaughn has no idea what he’s talking about — he just wants people to be afraid. And in a pandemic, there is definitely an amount of fear that’s healthy to have, and ideally, that fear would help to motivate you to make good choices to keep you and your family safe, including getting vaccinated.
Unfortunately, anti-vaxers and right-wing extremists who think that mass death is a great way to own the libs (which, by the way, includes the entire Republican party at this point) continue to push misinformation about vaccines in order to drive vaccination rates down. So, while Vaughn wants you to think that God is going to send new deadly variants to smite you, we can actually blame vaccine deniers, refusers, and liars. It’s when not enough people are vaccinated that a virus can run wild and free and become more contagious and deadly.
Vaughn also claims that the vaccines we already have aren’t working, which is not true. We’ve got safe and effective vaccines. The delta variant is bad news, for sure, and vaccinated people can still get sick. But the majority of people who are being hospitalized and dying are people who are not vaccinated. Overwhelmingly.
As Andy Slavitt, a health care advisor in the Biden Administration put it, the vaccine isn’t like sunscreen, blocking the virus from getting into your body. The vaccine works from inside your body to fight the virus should you get exposed.
Anyway, you might be wondering why Vaughn thinks God is wreaking so much havoc.
“Do you know why?” he asks. “Because America, you’re making a huge mistake.”
That huge mistake is trusting science over God, apparently. He quotes the Bible to argue that asking anyone for help other than God is NOT OKAY.
“Why do you need their help when I am the Lord your God, hallelujah?!” God hypothetically asks us. “When I alone give you life or call for you to die?”
Vaughn makes God sound like a violently abusive boyfriend.
“They have nothing that’s gonna help my judgment that is coming upon this nation. The only help for the child of God in this hour is the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ,” Vaughn continues. “You better learn that, and you better learn it fast, or you’re gonna chase vaccines until there ain’t no vaccines left. I don’t care if you got one. Go for it. God bless you if that’s your choice. But I’m telling you if that’s where your faith is, you’re going to be in for a big disappointment.”
And now, for the big reveal. The reason why God is so mad at us. You already know what it is.
“These vaccines are gonna quit working on every corner until this nation falls to her knees and repents for dead babies and repents for the sodomy of this nation!” he yells.
It’s so weird that Christian extremists think that science is anti-God. Like, why not look at science as the work of God through really smart humans? You can literally have your God and your vaccine, too.