It’s hard to believe, but we are now starting the third year of the Covid-19 pandemic. Much has changed in our world, and in the church, since early 2020 as a result of Covid. What follows are some of my personal reflections on two big issues related to Covid that continue to be questions in the culture and the church: coverings (wearing masks), and “cookies.” Cookies? This is the word used by Pastor Jeff Durbin in his excellent sermon to describe the Covid vaccines to keep from being censored for the the truth he was sharing about the role of government and mandates. The fact that we now must use code words to keep from being silenced or cancelled is a sign of just how much things have changed in this country and other countries in the West–the “free” world. So, I thought I’d borrow this word from Pastor Jeff to use in the title since there’s a nice alteration. 🙂
At the church that I pastor, we generally followed the guidance from the government for the first year or so of the pandemic. I also have had to do a lot of research so that we could determine the wisest course of action since the issue has become so politicized by all sides.
Regarding masks, I discovered that the best randomized controlled studies have shown that wearing face coverings offer little to no protection against the spread of viruses. For just one example, see this article written early on in the pandemic (more links are provided at the end of this post). Those studies suggest that N95 masks seem to provide benefit, but only if properly fitted, and they should really only be worn once. Our government will now send free N95 masks to Americans–a tacit admission that their previous guidance about masks was wrong. The problem is that even those masks have not proven very helpful in slowing the spread in Europe. Maybe that’s due to not being properly fitted, or folks wearing them multiple times. Whatever the case, the reality is that masks never were and never will be a solution.
Studies also have shown that prolonged use can cause adverse effects on health (particularly as pathogens get trapped on the mask and are inhaled). Adverse effects include respiratory problems, and diminished cognitive ability, learning, and social interaction in school.
The CDC has known this information for years, which is why they never recommended masks (nor social distancing) during the flu season in years past, despite the fact that the flu results in millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, and thousands of deaths per year: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/index.html.
For unknown reasons, the guidance changed shortly after the pandemic. Putting it in the best possible light, maybe the thinking was that since we can’t lockdown forever (and because lockdowns don’t work, and are counterproductive), just wear a mask, and that might afford protection and a sense of security. Sadly, since masks don’t prevent the spread of virus, cases of Covid spiked even in places with the strictest mask mandates. Some studies even suggest a correlation between implementation of mask mandates and spikes in cases. This has continued now with omicron, as cases surge even in places with the strictest mask policies.
So, not only do the best controlled studies show the ineffectiveness of masks, but, we have witnessed the fact that masks don’t work throughout the pandemic, and the negative effects of wearing them far outweigh the negligible benefits if any that they may offer. The guidance with regard to masks should have been and should be: if you’re sick and are around people, or you’re working with the sick, wear an N95 mask if possible. If you’re not one of those, then don’t.
During the first year of the pandemic, we asked people to wear a face covering (cloth, surgical, or shield) during worship. In light of the facts that have come to light, we no longer do this. We have some who still wear a mask, which is fine if that’s what they want to do.
As for wearing a mask in worship, it does hinder worship and fellowship. This article called A Theology of the Face: How Endless Mask-Wearing Hides the Image of God and Hinders the Church, makes many good points to consider. These principles would, in my estimation, also apply to society as a whole.
I understand and sympathize with the impulse to wear a mask. However, the best evidence argues against their use since 1) they do not prevent the spread and offer little to no protection; 2) they may be counterproductive, actually facilitating the spread of illness; 3) they have many potential negative effects on physical (and psychological) health.
Regarding vaccines, that too has been politicized by both sides. For example, I’m old enough to remember when the vaccines were championed by former Pres. Trump as the “Trump Vaccines!” Trump supporters by and large were all on board, and marveled at how Trump once again was able to get something done in record time, cutting through the bureaucratic red tape to “save lives.” Immediately his political enemies called the safety of the vaccines into question, vowing to never take them since they were developed under Trumps watch. Amazingly, the day after the election results that put Pres. Biden into office, the message for the political Left changed: the vaccines are an amazing testimony to our ingenuity and technology, and anyone who refuses to take them is a heartless, and dare we say, deplorable person who should be banned from society. The message from the political Right and Trumpers was “You can’t trust this vaccine, and only a fool would have it injected into their body!”
So, what to do? Well, I personally held off for as long as I thought I could. As I did my research, I found things that did concern me, but, I began to find the argument for taking the vaccine more compelling than not taking it (but as they say: that was then, this is now). For me at that time, it came down to risk/benefit analysis. Given my and my wife’s age and underlying health issues, our ministry and being frequently engaged with the public, and the potential harm from Covid that could come to us versus that of the vaccine, my wife and I both thought it would be best to get vaccinated.
So, we are not anti-vax. As a matter of fact, most if not all in our congregation have either been vaccinated, or they have natural immunity, having had Covid previously. So, if one were looking for a “safe space” where there was a high degree of herd immunity, it would be in a place like that (at least, theoretically).
A big factor in the discussion on vaccines is the risk/benefit calculus mentioned above that depends on such things as age, comorbidities, the extremely high full recovery rate from Covid for healthy people, and the risk of adverse effects presented by these vaccines. Those risks, sadly and oddly, have been under reported (if at all), and even banned by social media.
To give a sense of the risk/benefit analysis, here are just a few things to consider:
1. These vaccines were pushed through on the warp drive program under Pres. Trump. Normal time for approval of 7 – 10 years was jettisoned (https://www.aamc.org/news-insights/here-s-why-we-can-t-rush-covid-19-vaccine). That is not a good thing and should not have been permitted, since we don’t know the long term effects of these experimental mRNA vaccines. We won’t know until years from now.
It’s also worth mentioning that the pharmaceutical companies that developed them have no liability for injuries or deaths caused by these vaccines. If complications develop a few years from now as a result of the vaccine, we will have no recourse. Something about that seems very wrong for us, and very convenient for the pharmaceutical companies.
All of us who took these vaccines decided to assume the risk. Those who did not get the vaccine decided not to assume that great risk–a risk that is greater than with any other approved vaccine in the past. I don’t blame them at all, and in fact it may be the wisest decision, particularly if they are young and do not fall within the vulnerable group.
2. There have been many immediate adverse effects that have not been reported, and any attempt to call attention to that has resulted in those people being vilified, censored, and even canceled on social media. The VAERS system (https://openvaers.com/index.php) has shown that almost 2 million people (!) have suffered adverse effects from the vaccines. Over 22,000 have died, and many thousands more have serious complications. That’s just cases that are reported on the VAERS. The figures are likely much higher because many do not report adverse effects. I can testify to that as well, as I know people close to me that have suffered persistent health issues since receiving the vaccine. Does anyone care about them? No.
3. Many do not want to take these particular novel vaccines because:
a) they have already been infected and have natural immunity, which is better than the immunity afforded by these vaccines that only target the spike protein.
b) they have health issues that would put them at great risk for this vaccine.
c) they object to taking a vaccine that used aborted fetal lines in any part of the process.
d) they have a conscientious objection to being mandated by the government or an employer to be injected with any “medicine,” especially one that amounts to an experimental vaccine where both its efficacy and safety are in question.
4. The ineffectiveness of the vaccines. We were told that they would be 94% effective at preventing infection. Unfortunately, many vaccinated people were getting infected, and now they are getting infected at staggering rates. That is easy to understand: the current vaccine was designed for the version of Covid that was prevalent at least 3 mutations ago.
Now we are told that getting the vaccine prevents serious illness and death from Covid. This does seem to be the case, thankfully. However, there is a detail often overlooked: that was already the case for the overwhelming majority of the population that are not in the vulnerable group (65yrs or older with multiple comorbidities). The point is that it is all anecdotal, and sanitizes the failure of the vaccines to do as promised.
5. The vaccines are proving to be irrelevant if not obsolete for omicron. The good news is that omicron is less severe than previous versions of Covid, with most experiencing nothing more than common cold or flu symptoms. This could in fact be seen as a mercy of God, as it could signal the end of the pandemic as the population now gets to herd immunity through natural infection.
6. Effective treatments: There are many treatments available for those infected with Covid, such as monoclonal antibodies, regeneron, ivermectin, paxlovid, and even simple things like vitamins D3, zinc, etc. These have been under-reported and in some cases demonized by the media…and pharmaceutical companies. The entire push has been to vaccinate, even though there are much safer and cheaper (and effective) treatments available.
7. There are many in the scientific community that have objected to the measures taken in response to Covid and have provided a different approach in what is called the Great Barrington Declaration. As with anything that contradicts the government/big pharma narrative, these doctors and scientists have been ostracized for merely suggesting science-based solutions that contradict the draconian measures such as mass vaccination and mandates, face masks, lockdowns, etc.
In light of all of these facts, it’s worth asking: why should anyone–vulnerable or not–take the risk associated with this vaccine given its suspect record of safety, its unknown long-term effects, and its ineffectiveness to prevent infection? Why would the government seek to mandate that people be injected with this experimental and demonstrably risky and largely ineffective and essentially obsolete vaccine? The only answer I can think of in response to that question is, “follow the money.”
This is not, as politicians and news outlets have wrongly and divisively maintained, a pandemic of the unvaccinated. In fact, mass vaccination may have actually created problems and prolonged the pandemic. History shows that pandemics run their course in about 3 years. That seems to be the case now, which is good news for us as it means we may be getting closer to the end of it…if those in power and who stand to profit from it let it end…
With all of this in mind, it seems we ought to–or at least are close to being able to–live our lives as we did pre-Covid, while taking the usual precautions to prevent illness: reduce stress, get enough sleep, eat right and exercise, consider vitamin supplementation–especially C and D3 with K2 (after consultation with a doctor and getting a blood test to check D3 levels), etc.
I also encourage folks not to attend service if they are sick–don’t “tough it out”–stay home, monitor your symptoms, and consult your physician. Along with those measures, there is the use of the means of grace: prayer, His Word, and the church/fellowship of believers.
If one is in the vulnerable group, they may think about taking added precautions when there is a surge of illness in the community, just as they did pre-Covid.
What we cannot do is live in perpetual fear of this. Be vigilant: yes. Do the tried and true things to optimize health and prevent illness: yes. Live our lives in Christ to the glory of God: absolutely!
May the Lord be with us and give us wisdom to these ends.
Here’s some resources to consider:
*Simple video demonstration by a doctor show why masks can’t stop the spread of viruses: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRFtVsL9dzE
* Numerous studies on masks pre and during Covid: https://thewallwillfall.org/2020/06/23/masks-dont-work-a-review-of-science-relevant-to-covid-19-social-policy/
* Negative effects of wearing masks: https://thefederalist.com/2021/09/02/a-look-at-scientific-evidence-suggesting-face-masks-damage-your-health/?fbclid=IwAR2JWAvgmvXff8Qq8zoSN3_h2inaGoH72hvTPKWdHe2L56kYa-pXnbdtgR0
* https://www.amazon.com/UNREPORTED-TRUTHS-ABOUT-COVID-19-LOCKDOWNS/dp/1953039103/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=berenson+covid+masks&qid=1630523626&sr=8-3 – This is a link to Alex Berrenson’s book on Covid, Unreported Truths About Covid. This links to 3 chapters of the book, with masks being one of them. Berrenson, a former NY Times reporter, cites many studies pre and during covid that demonstrate the ineffectiveness of masks.
*COVID-19 Vaccines and Vaccination Mandates: How Should Christians Respond: https://www.clr4u.org/covid-19-vaccines-and-vaccination-mandates-how-should-christians-respond/
*Problems with the vaccines: https://lcaction.org/vaccine#reactions
*(1% of Adverse Effects Reported) Department of Health and Human Services, 2010https://digital.ahrq.gov/sites/default/files/docs/publication/r18hs017045-lazarus-final-report-2011.pdf
*(Blood Clotting) – The BMJ, August 27, 2021. https://www.bmj.com/content/374/bmj.n1931
*(Questions about Graphene Ox1de possibly present) Robert Young independent Analysis https://www.drrobertyoung.com/post/transmission-electron-microscopy-reveals-graphene-oxide-in-cov-19-vaccines
*(More D variant related deaths associated with those with shot[s]) Public Health England, Aug 6, 2021 (page 19) https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1009243/Technical_Briefing_20.pdf
*(More protection from D varient if previously contracted than taking both Pf1zer doses.) medRxiv, Aug 25, 2021 https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.08.24.21262415v1.full.pdf
*(Shot Causing Myocarditis) New England Journal of Medicine, August 25, 2021 https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2110475
*(Ivermect1n Effectiveness) American Journal of Therapeutics: July/August 2021 – Volume 28 – Issue 4 https://journals.lww.com/americantherapeutics/fulltext/2021/08000/ivermectin%20for%20prevention%20and%20treatment%20of.7.aspx
*(Hydr0xych10r0qu1ne and z1nc Effectiveness) MedRxiv, May 31, 2021https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.05.28.21258012v1.full.pdf