by Paul Moomjean

Years ago in 2007, a college student was at a John Kerry speaking event asking a question at the microphone, when the campus security guard approached him with a taser, prompting the 21-year-old to yell out, “Don’t tase me, bro!” His almost comical cry went viral before viral was a thing, and to this day, when I hear people yell about their personal freedoms in hyperbolic tones, that young man’s voice rings through my ears. 

Today, the battle cry concerns mandating vaccines. With live events throughout California requiring proof of vaccination, people who refuse to get the COVID-19 jab are beginning to sound like little Patrick Henry’s screaming “Give me liberty or give me COVID!” While one can fully support the personal choice to not get vaccinated, for whatever reason, one cannot simply just avoid the overwhelming effect this is having on our workplaces, government jobs and general discourse. Like everything else the pandemic brought, this too has gone from a slam-dunk scientific stamp of approval to a Fox News/Christian conservative “my body my choice” issue, creating one more culture war divide within the chasm of public discourse. 

Let me say up front that I’m vaccinated. My doctors encouraged it. My other employers required it, including the comedy clubs where I perform. Vaccination has allowed me to attend open gatherings and events that my unvaccinated friends have missed out on. Much of the reason the conservative Christian right has chosen to stay jab free isn’t because of some ethical stance of personal choice. Don’t be fooled. These are the same people who essentially want bounty hunters tattling on abortion clinics and Uber drivers who take women to those doctors. What this is about is petty post-election politics and religious conspiracy theories. 

If you have a friend on Facebook who is openly against the COVID-19 vaccine, you may have seen them post “news articles” about the man in the hospital after taking the vaccine, or you’ll read how it causes heart and liver damage. While there are always going to be side effects, overwhelmingly, the results have been positive. People getting the vaccine and catching COVID-19 are not being rushed to the hospital the way unvaccinated people are. 

What most of this anti-vax theology stems from is not wanting President Joe Biden to have success in a post-election world. The Christian right also has adopted the conspiracy theory that the vaccine is one step closer to Americans taking on the mark of the beast and funneling in the New World Order. Forget the fact that other countries are using vaccines: In these tinfoil hat-wearing minds, all of this is to verify Biden’s stolen election and reduce the Kingdom of Heaven. And they wonder why church attendance is down in America. 

The other Facebook argument used is that requiring vaccine cards at events is equal to “showing papers” during the Nazi rule of Europe, leading to the Holocaust. The offensive nature of such a stupid comment deserves very little argument, as arguing with a crazy person makes one more crazy than the actual crazy person. We are not rounding up unvaccinated people and putting them in their own ghettos and bubble cities. They choose to not get vaccinated. The Jews didn’t choose to be persecuted. And this is another area in which the conservative and Christian right plant their feet: public persecution. As a person who has been very involved with the evangelical community since childhood, white evangelicals are dying for government persecution, if only to feel like the early church led by the Apostle Paul. Go watch YouTube videos of John MacArthur, James White, and Todd Friel and you’ll be told that this pandemic was all about shutting down churches and not general safety.   

What really makes this frustrating is that the part of the population screaming about going back to the olden days refuses to do the one thing that would allow for hospitals to not be overcrowded and for businesses to feel safe from becoming COVID factories. For a group of people so hell bent on personal choice, the reason we can’t support you is because you have been so against personal choice in the areas of abortion and gay marriage. We see your hypocrisy, and just won’t let you use the same “my body my choice” arguments you mocked, now that it applies to you.