In July, Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City posted the following statement to its website, “Individuals who are fully vaccinated … are welcome to sit on the main floor of the sanctuary without social distancing and masks will be optional … Individuals who are not fully vaccinated … are welcome to sit in the balcony …” While on its face that announcement may not seem so menacing, the effect it has of segregating the church based on a medical decision is almost unbelievable. This kind of medical segregation has certainly been evident in other countries in the West but has largely stayed out of the United States until now. The fact that mainstream evangelical churches are embracing this kind of policy is cause for serious concern.
While Redeemer is using the honor system and doesn’t appear to be alone in implementing this divisive policy. Other churches are asking to see your papers. Anyone over 12 years old who attends Episcopal Church at St. Peter’s in Rockland, Maine; St. Luke in the Fields in New York; or Grace Cathedral in San Francisco will now have to show vaccine passports. Grace Cathedral’s pastor told Deseret News that, despite there being no government regulation compelling his church to require vaccines, he wanted to emphasize “health over accepted traditions.”
In Atlanta, Piney Grove Baptist Church is also asking for papers and dividing up the church body. Those not able to provide proof of vaccination will need a doctor’s note explaining why they can’t get the shot. Then they will need to go through the process of reserving a place in the sanctuary and signing a waiver to enter.
A Calvary Church in Charlotte, North Carolina (a massive non-denominational Evangelical church) released a memo last month that was shared with The Daily Wire. In the memo, Chief of Staff Jordan Shaw announced that, for the safety of preschoolers, employees in the Child Development Center would be required to get the vaccine. His announcement read as follows, “For those who choose not to comply with the vaccine requirement and those who refuse to disclose their decision by October 8, we will consider that you have voluntarily resigned.”
These churches have all fallen victim to a crippling fear of death, spurred on by a culture that peddles non-stop fear. The church should not succumb to such a culture. Instead, it should stand on the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ, who overcame death. The church should not fear death, nor should it rely on the culture’s solutions to overcome it. Christ walked out of the tomb on the third day, and he didn’t need a vaccine to do it.