Mandates vs. Religious Exemptions

The idea of forcing someone to do what they don’t want to do is generally viewed as something inherently unAmerican and even unChristian.  Personal individual liberty is highly valued in Christianity and has historically been one of the foundational building blocks of the government of the United States. After all, the famous phrase of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” is enshrined in the Declaration of Independence.  There is also the famous 1775 declaration from Patrick Henry, “Give me liberty or give me death!” – a motto that was shared among all of the Founding Fathers of the United States.

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Christian Anarchy?

Does this mean, then, that the United States of America, and Christianity in general, stands for complete individual autonomy? – that there is no place for government or the enforcement of civil laws upon those who think themselves “free” to disregard any and all laws and governments with which they do not personally agree?  Well, no.  The United States does not stand for complete anarchy, and neither does Christianity – a situation where “everyone does what is right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6).  Where then is the balance between personal freedom and the general enforcement of civil laws in a well-governed society?

Limits of Personal Freedom in a Civil Society:

It seems that a well-governed society recognizes the truism that personal liberties end where those of another begin. Borrowing from an earlier speech by John B. Finch, Rev. Dixon illustrated this concept as follows:

A drunken man was going down the street in Baltimore flinging his hands right and left, when one of his arms came across the nose of a passer-by. The passer-by instinctively clenched his fist and sent the intruder sprawling to the ground. He got up, rubbing the place where he was hit, and said, “I would like to know if this is not a land of liberty.” “It is,” said the other fellow; “but I want you to understand that your liberty ends just where my nose begins.” (1894 – At a temperance campaigner named Rev. A. C. Dixon at the “Thirteenth International Christian Endeavor Convention”)

The Golden Rule:

This very same principle also has a basis in the Bible – in the formation of governments and laws set up by God Himself.  All of these Biblical laws that govern civil society appear to be based on the basic principle of “loving one’s neighbor as one’s self” (Matthew 22:29 and Leviticus 19:18) and “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31).  In fact, this concept seems so basic and so self-evident that it is, essentially, a “truism” – something so self-evident that it is hardly worth mentioning.

Christian Basis of Civil Law:

So, the real question here is not if civil governments should exist or if they should enforce civil laws that protect the personal rights and basic liberties of all. Clearly, such governments, along with their ability to enforce civil laws, are set up by God Himself (Romans 13:4). The real question is where to draw the line between allowing personal liberties and protecting the noses of others from those liberties?

Government Vaccine Mandates vs. Religious Exemption:

Of course, the current issue at hand in this regard is over the issue of government mandates regarding the vaccines against COVID-19.  Should these mandates be resisted by Christians, in particular?  And, should Christians claim a “religious exception” as a reason to disregard these government mandates?

Three Groups of People:

There are at least three groups of people, who oppose the current vaccine mandates, to consider here.

  1. There are those who believe that the vaccines against COVID-19 are very beneficial in the fight against the pandemic, but who oppose government mandates because of their infringement on personal liberty.
  2. There are those who believe that the vaccines against COVID-19 are very beneficial in the fight against the pandemic, but who are not in favor of government mandates because they are seen as counterproductive – that there are better ways to promote the general use of the vaccines.
  3. There are those who believe that the vaccines against COVID-19 are dangerous and poisonous – potentially more risky than the disease itself, and therefore the mandates to take such dangerous vaccines should be opposed on the basis of the concept of one’s personal body being the “Temple of God” (1 Corinthians 6:19). Therefore, no order to defile one’s temple can ever be valid for the Christian. Those in this group of people usually also believe that vaccines don’t prevent or even significantly reduce the transmission of the virus to others and therefore don’t fall under the guidance of the Golden Rule.

Personally, I find myself in the second group rather than the first or the third group.  While I personally see the evidence that is currently in hand as being overwhelmingly in favor of the vaccines when it comes to significantly reducing the risk of serious COVID-19 infections, and even the spread of COVID-19, I don’t see the current government mandates, for the general population (with the exception of those working with those who are most at risk of infection – such as hospital or nursing home workers), as being the best and most effective approach. I just see the current use of vaccine mandates as too heavy-handed, resulting in a natural backlash against vaccines for those who are not very very familiar with the basic science as to how these vaccines work, their high level of effectiveness, and their high level of relative safety. Still, I see a big difference between disagreeing with the government and actively disregarding government laws or mandates – or citing religious exemptions when one’s concerns are often really nothing more than personal preferences that are inconsistently applied to various situations.

Inconsistency:

But what about those who believe that the vaccines will actually poison their bodies? – or in some other way defile the “Temple of God”?  Shouldn’t such people be given religious exceptions?  It would seem as those the answer to this question is a clear-cut and unequivocal yes.  However, even here there are shades of gray that involve many and probably most Christians.  For example, many who are currently citing a “religious exemption” are not being consistent in their reasons for such a religious exemption – as follows:

Non-zero personal risk:

There are those who argue that even though the risk of the vaccines may be very small, that it’s not zero.  Even if there is just a very remote possibility of serious personal injury and death from the vaccines, that it should be up to the individual, not the government, if such a risk should be taken – regardless of the benefit it may have for others or for the society at large.

This is an inconsistent argument because such people generally have no problem with other government mandates that also pose a small personal risk in exchange for the much greater benefit to society that is realized.  Examples of such mandates include the wearing of seatbelts or the use of airbags in vehicles.  While very rare, airbags and seatbelts are not entirely risk-free.  There are numerous examples of people being seriously injured and even killed by airbags and seatbelts. Yet, since the benefits to society at large are so great in comparison, very few complain about such government mandates, much less claim religious exemptions to avoid complying with such mandates.

No Significant Benefit for Others:

There are those who argue that even if the vaccines might offer some personal benefit, that the vaccines offer no significant benefit for others since they do not prevent the virus from spreading to others.

The problem here is that the vaccines, while not 100% effective at preventing viral transmission by any means, do actually significantly reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus to others (Link). The same is true for the wearing of masks (Link, Link).

This argument is also inconsistent even if only the individual risk were improved by vaccines since reducing the severity of disease for the individual also ends up reducing the number of those who require hospitalization and ICU-levels of care.  This ends up reducing the burden on hospitals that have often been stretched beyond the limit during this pandemic.

Again, the claim that a person’s actions during this pandemic, regarding one’s choice to get vaccinated or not, or to mask up in public places or not, don’t significantly affect other people is simply mistaken. Those who live in society don’t live as islands.  The Golden Rule therefore always applies since someone else is almost always affected by one’s actions or inactions.

And, even if it were true that it’s vaccination and/or mask-wearing offer nothing more than a perception of safety, that alone should be enough for the Christian – to act in such a way that gives others the impression that their lives and health are important enough to me for me to suffer a bit of risk or inconvenience for their sake alone.  That is, after all, what being a Christian is all about since this is exactly what Jesus did for all of us.

The Injection of Fetal Cells:

There are those who believe that the COVID-19 vaccines are created with the use of fetal cell lines, making them immoral for the Christan to use.

The problem here is that the mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 (i.e., the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines) are entirely synthetically produced. They do not require the use of any living cell culture to produce. They also require no adjuvants to enhance the human immune response nor do they require the addition of any preservatives.  They only consist of an mRNA sequence, some salts, and some lipids.  That’s it.  They are, in fact, the “cleanest” vaccines ever produced.

Testing with Fetal Cell Lines:

There are those who argue that because the vaccines against COVID-19 were initially tested on immortal fetal cell lines that were started many decades ago, that it would be immoral for them, as Christians, to take these vaccines as well.

Yet, many of these same Christians use other vaccines or medications, on a regular basis, that were also tested on these very same fetal cell lines. Some of these common over-the-counter medications include Tylenol, Ibuprofen/Motrin, Aspirin, Pepto Bismol, Tums, Lipitor, Senokot, Maalox, Ex-Lax, Benadryl, Sudafed, Preparation H, Claritin, Prilosec, and Zoloft – and numerous others (Link, Link). So, if this argument is to be viewed as consistent, much of modern medicine would be off-limits to such Christians.

Consider also a bit of history behind one of the most popular fetal cell lines in use today – the HEK293 cell line. The original cells for the HEK293 fetal cell line were transformed and immortalized in January 1973 by a young Canadian postdoc by the name of Frank Graham, who was working at the time in Leiden (in the Netherlands) in the laboratory of Professor Alex van der Eb. Normally, a cell can only divide a limited number of times. However, Graham managed to modify these particular cells so that they could divide indefinitely – creating an “immortal” cell line. This was his 293rd experiment, hence the name of the line (HEK stands for “human embryonic kidney cells”). Now, consider that elective abortion was illegal in the Netherlands until 1984 – except to save the life of the mother. Consequently, many researchers now consider it likely that the HEK cell line produced by the Graham was probably originally derived from a spontaneous miscarriage, not an elective abortion (Link).

Either way, getting rid of this cell line at this point and never using it again to expand medical knowledge would seem to be a serious mistake.

The problem is that the use of many such medications and other therapies to treat many diseases is, in fact, based on fetal cell line studies. If one refused to use any knowledge based on such research, if one were to be consistent, any such research could not be used to treat a great many diseases.

In this light, I would suggest, given the potential importance of such information to help a great many people, that this knowledge not be discarded or left unused because of its basis in the use of immortal fetal cell lines that were established many decades ago, probably with the use of a spontaneous miscarriage. Rather, I would suggest that laws be made that make it illegal to use deliberately aborted fetal tissues in the future.

The mRNA Vaccines are too New and Untested regarding Long-term Dangers:

There are those who argue that even though they are not personally against vaccines in general, having used vaccines themselves, that the mRNA vaccine technology is “too new” and that the long-term effects of these vaccines remain unknown.

The problem here is that the mRNA vaccine technology is not new or untested in the long term.  It has been around and extensively tested for over 30 years (Link).  It has also been extensively used in the clinical setting for many years to treat other diseases with good success and a very good safety record (Link).

The Spike Protein produced by the Vaccine is Poisonous:

There are those who claim that the spike protein is “poisonous” to the body and therefore should not be taken since it would harm the Temple of God.

While there are risks to the modern vaccines against COVID-19, serious risks are very rare – similar to the risks associated with having airbags in cars or wearing seatbelts.  These risks are well-known now since the extensive double-blinded placebo-controlled trials and since the use of these vaccines by hundreds of millions of people (Link).  So, as previously noted, the refusal to take on a tiny risk, despite the benefits to others and to society as a whole, just comes across as inconsistency for those who have no problem with taking on other very similar risks that also benefit society.

God Never Used Vaccines:

There are those who cite the Levitical laws in the Bible dealing with what to do with those who come down with some kind of sickness or infection, noting that God never commanded the use of anything like vaccines to treat the healthy or any kind of quarantine for those who were healthy – only for those who were already sick.

Levitical Laws:

It is interesting to note here that the Levitical laws listed in the Bible dealing with those who were infected or sick put serious restrictions on the personal liberties of these people for the sake of protecting the community as a whole.  Again, the basic moral principle of personal liberties ending with the beginning of another person’s nose is illustrated here – in the Bible.

Of course, the Bible didn’t cover all possible advances in medical knowledge or medical care.  For example, God didn’t explain anything regarding the existence of infectious bacteria or viruses as the underlying cause of various diseases.  He just gave some basic rules of thumb on how best to limit disease within a community – without providing all of the biological details behind these rules.  God didn’t give information on the development or use of antibiotics here either.  Yet, most Christians have no problem with the use of antibiotics when it comes to treating serious bacterial infections.  God also didn’t explain the biochemistry of the innate or adaptive human immune systems. Yet few Christians have a problem with the concept that modern scientific advances have greatly benefited mankind when to comes to fighting infections by bacteria, viruses, and various other parasites that have long plagued humanity. Some who wouldn’t think of getting vaccinated have no problem with off-label uses of anti-paracytic drugs like ivermectin to treat viral diseases like COVID-19 infections (despite the lack of scientific evidence) – which seems rather inconsistent. God didn’t even explain, within the Levitical Laws at least, the use of many of the health messages given to Mrs. White – to include hot/cold fomentations, activated charcoal, or a vegan diet (which would have been impractical throughout most of Biblical history after the Flood – until the invention of refrigeration).

Ellen White on Useful Medical Advances:

For Seventh-day Adventists, in particular, Ellen White was a strong promoter of the best advances of modern medicine in her day – to include the use of medications like quinine to treat malaria (despite calling quinine a “poison” when it came to general frivolous uses of her day). Beyond this, she recognized the advantages of anesthesia during surgery and the use of medicines to relieve the intense pain and suffering of the injured or sick (Link). She recommended blood transfusions when needed, despite the risks involved (Link) – and even had radiation therapy to resolve a skin lesion on her face (Link). And yes, she even approved of the smallpox vaccine for her son, William White, and his staff and was vaccinated against smallpox herself according to her personal secretary (Link).

Tim Perenich:

It seems particularly inconsistent, then, for Seventh-day Adventist Christians to argue that if some medical concept wasn’t specifically described by the Bible, that Christians shouldn’t take advantage of it or that any such treatments or mandates should be actively opposed with exemptions claimed “on Biblical grounds”. Still, there are a number of outspoken SDA Christians who are doing this very thing. Tim Perenich for example, a chiropractor who is fairly popular among SDAs who are opposed to vaccines on supposedly Biblical grounds, has recently promoted such arguments in a 4.5-hour panel discussion with Drs. Margaret Song and Roger Seheult (Link).

Scott Ritsema and Dr. Lela Lewis:

Other fairly well-known voices who are opposed to vaccines and particularly to vaccine mandates, like the evangelist Scott Ritsema and Dr. Lela Lewis, for example, are urging the SDA Church, as an organization, to make a public statement against government vaccine mandates. They write:

“It is time for our Church to speak clearly in defending liberty of conscience on this matter, and the appeal below is offered in a spirit of Christian concern. Our Church has an obligation to lead in this crisis, not only for ourselves, but for millions of others around the world who are looking for hope. We must provide it. You are invited to add your voice by signing the appeal.” (Liberty and Health Alliance)

Response of the Seventh-day Adventist Church:

While the legal counsel of the SDA Church does provide options for individuals to seek religious exemptions, it would be inconsistent for the SDA Church itself, as an organization, to come out against government mandates regarding COVID-19 vaccines, in particular, while not also speaking out against the numerous other long-standing government mandates regarding various other types of vaccines and medical laws in general. It simply is not the place of the church, as an organization, to oppose the government along such lines since these mandates do not specifically undermine any direct command of God given to us in the Bible. In fact, the SDA Church has come out in favor of the use of vaccines during this pandemic (Link). At least part of the reason for this decision involves the action of Mrs. White when, as previously mentioned, she approved of her own son, William White, along with his staff, getting vaccinated against smallpox – and was, according to her long-time personal secretary, personally vaccinated against smallpox as well (Link).

For such reasons, the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church summarizes its position on this topic as follows (quoted in part – October 25, 2021):

The current position of the Church on immunization and vaccines, including COVID-19, builds on the insights of the comprehensive health message Seventh-day Adventists have endorsed early on with ample support in Scripture and the writings of Ellen G. White that refer to the importance of disease prevention. As a denomination, we have advocated the synergy of a healthy lifestyle and responsible immunization for more than one hundred years. In the light of the global magnitude of the pandemic, the deaths, disability, and long-term COVID-19 effects that are emerging in all age groups, we encourage our members to consider responsible immunization and the promotion and facilitation of the development of what is commonly termed herd immunity (pre-existing community immunity of approximately 80 percent of the population or more as a result of previous infection and/or vaccination)…

Public health practices have been mandated from the time of Moses and, probably, earlier. More recent examples of mandated public health practices include the banning of smoking on aircraft, and the use of safety belts as a general requirement for all motor vehicles. Over the past 120 years, mandated smallpox vaccination has been implemented in the United States general population and in countries around the world, resulting in a smallpox-free world at present. Numerous other infectious diseases have been brought under control by vaccinations and have also been subject to mandates (e.g. polio, measles, diphtheria). Seventh-day Adventist missionaries in the 1930s were instructed by the Church, as their employer, to receive the smallpox and typhoid immunizations. These requirements have been shared widely over the years in the Church’s official publications and acceptance of this requirement by Church members has been positive overall. The requirements for missionaries to be appropriately and responsibly vaccinated continue today. Ellen White did not comment on the issue of religious liberty in connection with vaccination mandates in her lifetime. She clearly understood the wholistic health message entrusted to the Church better than most…

The Seventh-day Adventist Church is not opposed to public safety and government health mandates. Submission to government authorities is a biblical principle unless it conflicts with obedience to God (Matthew 22:21; Romans 13:1-7). In many cases the Seventh-day Adventist Church has supported government mandates in support of health and safety issues. When it comes to COVID-19 vaccinations, we believe individuals have the right to state and defend their conviction whether to be vaccinated or not. Mandates usually allow exemptions for individual religious convictions or health conditions. With widespread personal testing available, individuals may choose instead to submit to regular testing if required…

We recognize that at times our members will have personal concerns and even conscientious convictions that go beyond the teachings and positions of the Church. In these cases, the Church’s religious liberty leaders will do what they can to provide support and counsel on a personal basis, not as a Church position, even at times assisting members in writing their own personal accommodation requests to employers and others. To avoid confusion, however, about the Church’s own positions, it will often be the case that in such circumstances the Church will not wish its support or advocacy for the member to be reflected in public correspondence or communications. It is important that the Church preserve its ability to speak to issues that are central to its system of beliefs and identity, and that its influence not be diluted by pursuing personal convictions and agendas that are not central to its Gospel and prophetic concerns.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church, in consultation with the Health Ministries and Public Affairs and Religious Liberty departments of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, is convinced that the vaccination programs that are generally being carried out are important for the safety and health of our members and the larger community. Therefore, claims of religious liberty are not used appropriately in objecting to government mandates or employer programs designed to protect the health and safety of their communities.

This has generally been the position of the Church for the last century, since the modern vaccine program was developed. If we use our religious liberty resources in such personal decision advocacy efforts, we believe that we will weaken our religious liberty stance in the eyes of the government and the public. Such efforts would make it less likely that these arguments will be heard and appreciated when they are used for matters of worship and religious practice. We understand that some of our members view things differently, and we respect those convictions. They may at times have rights that can be pursued under the law, and we will point them towards materials and resources for doing so but cannot directly undertake this personal effort for them.

GENERAL CONFERENCE: Reaffirming the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Response to COVID-19

This document has been produced by the General Conference Administration, Biblical Research Institute, General Conference Health Ministries, Public Affairs and Religious Liberty Department, General Conference Office of General Counsel, and Loma Linda University Health. It builds on the immunization statement voted in April 2015 and affirms both this latter statement, and the information on the COVID-19 vaccines shared on December 22, 2020.

Regarding vaccines for COVID-19, the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists also writes:

In line with this commitment, the NAD fully supports the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s statement encouraging “responsible immunization/vaccination,” and as such has “no religious or faith-based reason not to encourage [its] adherents to responsibly participate in protective and preventive immunization programs.”

While the Church’s statement recognizes it is “not the conscience of the individual church member, and recognize[s] individual choices,” the choice not to be vaccinated is not based on Seventh-day Adventist Church teachings or doctrine. For this reason, the Adventist church in North America does not provide Church-endorsed vaccine exemption request letters.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church respects convictions of conscience. While the NAD cannot endorse that vaccine refusal represents Adventist teachings, your local Union Public Affairs and Religious Liberty ministry is available to advise you in writing your own letter if you choose to pursue an individual vaccine exemption. (Link)

All Government Mandates on Vaccines are Morally Wrong:

There are those who think that anything that goes into one’s body is strictly a personal choice – that no government can ethically mandate what one does or doesn’t put into one’s body.

The problem here is that many of these same people haven’t had any problem with historical government vaccine mandates regarding situations like working in a hospital or attending a school.  Vaccine mandates are nothing new.  Many states have long required healthcare workers to have various vaccinations (Link). Many states have also long required various vaccinations for child care, pre-K, and K-12 school attendance (Link).  So, if one is to be consistent here, one should oppose all such mandates.  Of course, there are some who do homeschool their children and who do not work in public healthcare jobs for this very reason. Anything else would seem to be inconsistent when it comes to the claim of “religious exemption” status.

Obeying the Government Despite Objection:

What if I just disagree with the government, but my disagreement isn’t clearly a moral disagreement regarding a direct command of God?

Going the Second Mile:

Consider, for example, the situation of a Jewish man during the time of the Roman occupation during the time of Jesus.  The was a Roman law, a mandate if you will, that a Roman soldier could order, at will, any Jewish man to carry his equipment for one mile.  Such Roman laws were absolutely hated by the Jews.  Yet, what did Jesus advise one to do if such a command were given?

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. – Matthew 5:38-42

Paul also says basically the same thing here:

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. – Romans 13:1

This is true even if one feels that one must give up some rightful personal liberty or that one’s personal liberties are being taken away.

The Golden Image:

As another example of this, consider what happened to Daniel and his three friends. Their city was destroyed and their parents were likely killed by a foreign government – a government who then forcibly marched them over 1600 miles to Babylon and then castrated them. They had every reason to be angry and rebellious against anything having to do with such a government.  Yet, how did they respond when given the high privilege of eating food from the king’s table? – something that they knew would injure their own health? Did they respond to what was intended as a generous offer from their enemies with a rebellious and belligerent spirit?  Not at all.  Rather, they respectfully and very tactfully approached the commander explaining their situation and asking that he scientifically test the claims of “his servants” for “ten days”? – to see for himself if they were telling the truth or not? (Daniel 1:12).

The same thing happened when they were called, by the king, to the Plain of Dura where a golden statue had been set up.  They obeyed this command despite knowing, full well, its purpose.  They obeyed as far as they could without directly violating a clear command of God.  It wasn’t until the command to actually worship the golden image was given that they disobeyed the law of the land – in favor of the Law of God. Even at this time, note, however, that they continued to address the king in the most respectful tone possible.

“King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18)

This is also what we should be striving for today, in relation to the mandates of modern governments.

Ellen White on Government Mandates:

As Ellen White put it:

“In cases where we are brought before the courts, we are to give up our rights, unless it brings us in collision with God. It is not our rights we are pleading for, but God’s right to our service.” (Ellen White, Manuscript Releases 5:69 – 1895)

“The time will come when unguarded expressions of a denunciatory character, that have been carelessly spoken or written by our brethren, will be used by our enemies to condemn us. These will not be used merely to condemn those who made the statements, but will be charged upon the whole body of Adventists. Our accusers will say that on such and such a day one of our responsible men said thus and so against the administration of the laws of this government. Many will be astonished to see how many things have been cherished and remembered that will give point to the arguments of our adversaries. Many will be surprised to hear their own words strained into a meaning that they did not intend them to have. Then let our workers be careful to speak guardedly at all times and under all circumstances. Let all beware lest by reckless expressions they bring on a time of trouble before the great crisis which is to try men’s souls.” (Ellen White, Counsels for the Church, p. 317)

Regarding National Sunday Laws: “The Sabbath must be taught in a decided manner, but be cautious how you deal with the idol Sunday. A word to the wise is sufficient…. Refraining from work on Sunday is not receiving the mark of the beast; and where this will advance the interests of the work, it should be done. We should not go out of our way to work on Sunday… After the Sabbath has been carefully observed, in places where the opposition is so strong as to arouse persecution if work is done on Sunday, let our brethren make that day an occasion to do genuine missionary work. Let them visit the sick and the poor, ministering to their wants, and they will find favorable opportunities to open the scriptures to individuals and to families. (Ellen White, Maranatha, p. 177 and Letters and Manuscripts, Vol. 10 (1895), par. 18)

Note here that A. T. Jones, one of the founding fathers of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and strong proponent of righteousness by faith, never accepted Mrs. White’s advice regarding how to deal with national Sunday laws. He felt that any government law commanding Sunday observance should be actively and very openly resisted – by working on Sunday in direct conflict with the law.  In fact, in response to Mrs. White’s advice to avoid actively breaking any national Sunday law, Jones wrote a pamphlet in 1909 entitled, “The Ten Commandments for Sunday Observance” in which he flatly accuse Ellen White of advocating that Adventists accept the Mark of the Beast. (Link)

Such disagreements with Mrs. White wouldn’t end here, and would eventually lead to Jones leaving the SDA Church and actively fighting against it.  He began, along with Kellogg, to insinuate that not all of Ellen White’s testimonies were inspired by God and that she was being manipulated by her son and the General Conference leaders. (Link)

Individual Rights Not the Main Issue:

Our individual rights, while certainly very nice while they last, just aren’t the main issue for the Christian. The main issue for the Christian is how best to represent God and His Law and His Grace and the Gospel Message that He has given us for these Last Days of Earth’s history.

So, even if a Christian may personally disagree with this or that government mandate, to include the current government mandates regarding vaccines against COVID-19, such disagreements, despite how strongly they may be held or how right they may be, are not the basis for open disregard of the actual mandate itself – as long as the mandate doesn’t directly violate a very clear command of God Himself where the Christian is called to be entirely consistent.  In other words, the Christian can tactfully and respectfully disagree with the government and still obey the government and its laws and mandates at the same time – as long as they do not directly conflict with a clear command of God. In this way, it will make acceptance of our Gospel Message to the world that much easier to accept by those who are open to the call of the Spirit of God and that much harder for the enemies of God to refute.

________

Bio of Dr. Sean Pitman

 

Dr. Sean Pitman is a pathologist, with subspecialties in anatomic, clinical, and hematopathology, currently working in N. California. He’s also a life-long Seventh-day Adventist, the son of a retired SDA minister, and is very active in his local church.

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71 thoughts on “Mandates vs. Religious Exemptions

    • It should be no surprise to anyone familiar with governments or militaries around the world that “gain of function” bioweapon research is taking place. All governments that are able are doing this type of research – and have been for a long time. Does government denial along these lines cause distrust? Of course it does, but this shouldn’t be the deciding factor when it comes to taking the vaccine or not.

      The fact is that we are now in a pandemic that is a real pandemic – regardless of how it started. The vaccines work and they are far FAR safer and less risky than getting infected by the COVID-19 virus itself. That’s based on very good independent scientific evidence from multiple very good and very reliable independent sources – not generated by the government or by “big pharma”.

      As far as mandates are concerned, as noted in my article, I think that general population mandates regarding vaccines against COVID-19 will end up being less effective than other actions that could have been taken instead. Regardless, the question is if we as Christians should cite “religious exemption” other otherwise try to disobey the law here? I personally think not. I think that such efforts against the government will also end up being counterproductive to our mission to spread the Gospel – as noted in more detail in my article.

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      • I find your comments interesting, illuminating, and disturbing.

        It’s like you are saying: “Meh, the US government was funding research at the CCP’s Wuhan Viral Institute. Something happened, get over it and deal with the pandemic. Take the vaccine.”

        I’m not even sure what my further response to this is at this time. But I am certainly going to do more independent reading and research into the origin of COVID19 and the US government’s (and my tax dollars) involvement.

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        • I’m just saying that it should surprise no one that all governments who are capable have long studied how to produce biological weapons. Ever heard of weaponized anthrax, for instance? When I was in the army working in S. Korea over 20 years ago, I was given five vaccines against anthrax for this very reason – because N. Korea had this technology.

          Our own government studies such technology because, if we didn’t, we wouldn’t be as effective against enemies who have also studied and have produced biological weapons. You might think that this is a serious evil, but that’s the nature of war and of military secrets. As many have said, “War is Hell”. I wish this world weren’t this way, but this is, in fact, the way it is.

          Regardless, the current situation is what it is as well. Regardless of its origin, the COVID-19 pandemic is real and it is serious. And, the vaccines against COVID-19 clearly work. They are amazingly effective and have a very high degree of safety. It’s just foolish to be so upset that governments research biological weapons (while denying that they do it) that one also refuses to get vaccinated – despite the overwhelming independent science in support of the mRNA vaccines.

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  1. Aspirin was developed and used long before aborted fetal tissue testing methods began. So it is incorrect to include it in the list of meds claimed to have been dependent on this controversial issue.

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    • While it is true that aspirin was developed in 1897 (before modern fetal cell lines were produced), it is not true that aspirin hasn’t been tested since this time on fetal cell lines to determine the mechanism(s) of action as a potential treatment for various diseases – treatments that go well beyond its original use to treat fevers, headaches, and the like.

      The demonstration that salicylate-based drugs exert beneficial effects on a number of chronic and devastating diseases, such as type II diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and certain types of cancers, suggests that future studies will identify an even more expansive role for salicylates as therapeutic agents. (Link)

      The problem is that the use of aspirin to treat such diseases is, in fact, based on fetal cell line studies. This would mean that, if one were to be consistent, that aspirin could not be used to treat such diseases since this knowledge was gained via research that used fetal cell lines.

      In this light, I would suggest, given the potential importance of such information to help a great many people, that this knowledge not be discarded or left unused because of its basis in the use of immortal fetal cell lines that were established many decades ago. Rather, I would suggest that laws be made that make it illegal to use deliberately aborted fetal tissues in this manner in the future.

      Consider also a bit of history behind one of the most popular fetal cell lines in use today – the HEK293 cell line. The original cells for the HEK293 fetal cell line were transformed and immortalized in January 1973 by a young Canadian postdoc by the name of Frank Graham, who was working at the time in Leiden (in the Netherlands) in the laboratory of Professor Alex van der Eb. Normally, a cell can only divide a limited number of times. However, Graham managed to modify these particular cells so that they could divide indefinitely – creating an “immortal” cell line. This was his 293rd experiment, hence the name of the line (HEK stands for “human embryonic kidney cells”). Now, consider that elective abortion was illegal in the Netherlands until 1984 – except to save the life of the mother. Consequently, many researchers now consider it likely that the HEK cell line produced by the Graham was probably originally derived from a spontaneous miscarriage, not an elective abortion (Link).

      Either way, getting rid of this cell line at this point and never using it again to expand medical knowledge would seem to be a serious mistake.

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  2. I see COVID19 patient’s on a regular basis, in the clinic and ER, at this small hospital where I work in Montana. In the past month I have seen 5 patients with COVID19 who previously had the complete Moderna vaccines earlier in the year. Four of these patients were seen in the ER and had to be admitted to the hospital. One was an RN who had undergone employee testing and only had mild symptoms.

    So it has become obvious to me that these “break through” infections are fairly common, at least with the Moderna vaccine. It does seem that the vaccine lowers the intubation rate in very sick patients.

    But I still have serious questions and reservations about this “vaccinate everyone” approach. Only time and epidemiologic data will eventually answer these questions.

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    • Mild breakthrough infections for the fully vaccinated are quite common because the antibodies produced in response to the mRNA vaccines are largely blood-based. They provide less protection when it comes to mucosal nasopharyngeal infections, especially over time as antibody levels decrease. However, the vaccine does result in significant protection against serious infections and death because the immunity produced is largely able to prevent the spread of the virus from the nasopharynx into the bloodstream to the rest of the body – even over the long term due to the generation of memory B- and T-cells. Booster shots after 6-8 months are particularly helpful for those over the age of 65 and those with compromised immune systems where vaccine-based antibody levels decline more rapidly over time (memory B- and T-cells still remain longer-term). While serious infections and even deaths do occasionally happen in the fully vaccinated, this happens far less commonly than for those who are not vaccinated.

      The “vaccinate everyone approach” is helpful when it comes to achieving “herd immunity” more quickly. It also is much safer and less risky for every age category, including children, compared to the risk of going through a natural COVID-19 infection. There simply is no reasonable biological mechanism whereby exposing the body to a small modified piece of the COVID-19 virus would somehow be more risky than exposing the body to a full-blown infection by a huge number of live fully-intact COVID-19 viruses. How does that make any sense to anyone?

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      • Sean, you sound like you have drank someone’s Koolaid. Seriously.

        “……How does that make any sense to anyone?” Every single thing you said here is debatable and not nearly as clear cut as you are trying to make it.

        The “break through” infections that I have seen with the Moderna vaccine are not “mild infections”. Some had covid pneumonia and severe hypoxia, and required hospitalization.

        Have you listened to Dr Robert Malone’s discussion about the pros and cons of the “vaccinate everyone” approach. Again, this is not nearly as clear cut as you are trying to make it.

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        • As already mentioned, while there are certainly some serious breakthrough infections and even deaths for those who are fully vaccinated, these are far less common than mild breakthrough infections and are certainly far less common than serious infections and deaths for those who have not been vaccinated (within a given age category), by a ratio of more than 11:1. You probably personally see the more serious breakthrough cases because you primarily see those who actually end up coming to the hospital.

          “Most breakthrough cases were mild or asymptomatic, although 19% had persistent symptoms (>6 weeks).” (Link)

          “Breakthrough coronavirus infections can cause mild or moderate illness, but the chances of serious COVID-19 are very low, especially for people who are not living with a chronic health condition.” (Link)

          Dr. Robert Malone is very conspiratorial in this thinking and has made many claims regarding COVID-19 and the mRNA vaccines that simply aren’t true. He’s just not a reliable source of information as far as I’ve been able to tell.

          In media appearances, [Dr. Malone] often notes that he has colleagues in the government and at universities who agree with him and are privately cheering him on. I spoke with several of these people—vaccine scientists and biotech consultants, suggested by Malone himself— and that is not what they told me. The portrait they paint of Malone is of an insightful researcher who can be headstrong. They related accounts of him, pre-pandemic, getting booted from projects because he was hard to communicate with and unwilling to compromise. (Malone has acknowledged his penchant for butting heads with fellow scientists.) And they are taken aback by his emergence as a vaccine skeptic. One called his eagerness to appear on less-than-reputable podcasts “naive,” while another said he thought Malone’s public rhetoric had “migrated from extrapolated assertions to sensational assertions.” … It’s only in the curious world of fringe media that Malone has found the platform, and the recognition, he’s sought for so long. He talks to hosts who aren’t going to question whether he’s the brains behind the Pfizer and Moderna shots. They’re not going to quibble over whether credit should be shared with co-authors, or talk about how science is like a relay race, or point out that, absent the hard work of brilliant researchers who came before and after Malone, there would be no vaccine. He’s an upgrade over their typical guest list of chiropractors and naturopaths, and they’re perfectly happy to address him by the title he believes he’s earned: inventor of the mRNA vaccines. (Link)

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  3. Children Shouldn’t Get COVID-19 Vaccines, Harvard Professor Says

    Thank God that there are still some physicians thinking clearly about COVID19.

    Harvard Epidemiologist Martin Kulldorff on the COVID ‘Public Health Fiasco’
    Video, COVID-19, Healthcare & Welfare, Peter HolleSeptember 2, 2021 (Link)

    “Those who are pushing these vaccine mandates and vaccine passports … they’re doing so much more damage to vaccine confidence than anybody else,” says Dr. Martin Kulldorff, one of the world’s leading epidemiologists.

    This video interview with Kulldorf is an interesting deep dive on COVID-19 immunity, vaccines, the Delta variant, and his observation that the global COVID response has been the “biggest public health fiasco in history.”

    Dr. Martin Kulldorff is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a biostatistician and epidemiologist at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He helped develop the CDC’s current system for monitoring potential vaccine risks, and he is also one of the co-authors of the Great Barrington Declaration, which argued for “focused protection” of the most vulnerable, instead of lockdowns.

    THERE ARE OTHER PERSPECTIVES TO THIS THAN THE ONE THAT YOU ARE PROMOTING SEAN

    Regarding your comments above about Dr Robert Malone. I honestly can not believe that you posted a link to the liberal hit piece in the Atlantic. You are putting your own credibility in jeopardy Sean.

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    • While vaccinating children is certainly more of a gray area as compared to vaccinating adults and those with pre-existing medical conditions, there are benefits to vaccinating children that Dr. Martin Kulldorff failed to mention – such as injuries that happen even if a child doesn’t die. These injuries and longer-term problems aren’t exactly rare either – as described in my article on this topic (Link). There is also the issue of children spreading the virus to others who are more susceptible.

      Even death, while relatively uncommon among children compared to older adults, is still a problem. Almost 700 children have died from COVID-19 in the US so far. While this might seem to be similar to a normal flu season where between 34-200 children die during a given year, keep in mind that these numbers are affected by flu vaccinations that are given to children every year. Flu shots are widely available to all kids, while no COVID vaccines have been authorized for children under 12. More than half of children, around 60%, get their flu shot each year. This significantly reduces the death rate for children who are vaccinated since the vast majority (~90%) of kids who die from the flu each year are unvaccinated. That means, if you compare apples to apples, the flu death rate for children would be much higher without the annual flu vaccine – which is the reason why a flu vaccine for children has been made available. Why then should we not make a COVID vaccine available for children as well?

      “Among children age 1-14, COVID-19 was in the top 10 leading causes of death through August and September 2021. Among children age 5-14, COVID-19 ranked as the number 6 leading cause of death in August and September. Among children ages 1-4, COVID-19’s rank rose from number 13 to number 7 among leading causes of death in August 2021 and held there in September.” (Link)

      As far as the known risks of vaccines for children, these risks are still far less than the risks of getting infected by the live virus – for every significant risk one can list.

      It is for this reason that the FDA advisory panel unanimously voted, yesterday, to approve the reduced dose Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5-11 (Link).

      Regarding Dr. Malone, I’ve read his arguments and have personally found him to be very sensational in his claims regarding COVID-19 and the mRNA vaccines – and often completely mistaken. He certainly hasn’t offered up any credible reason for his claims regarding the supposed dangers of the vaccines. He hasn’t presented any credible biological mechanism whereby an mRNA vaccine would likely cause more damage than a COVID-19 infection. Do you know of any such mechanism that hasn’t already been very carefully investigated? I don’t. And, I fail to see where Dr. Malone has come up with some such tenable argument either. For example, Dr. Malone has presented the argument that COVID-19 vaccines will make SARS-CoV-2 more dangerous due to a mechanism called antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE). The problem here is that this claim isn’t backed up by any evidence. The question of ADE was forefront in the minds of those working on the mRNA vaccines and the spike protein was modified specifically to avoid this risk (Link, Link). And, there simply hasn’t been any evidence of ADE since the vaccine has been given to hundreds of millions of people (Link). Clearly, Dr. Malone was mistaken here. Then you have the claim of Dr. Malone that the mRNA vaccines would create an evolutionary “arms race”, leading to the accelerated generation of vaccine-resistant COVID-19 variants. Well, this claim is based on a mistaken assumption that vaccines work in the same way antibiotics work against bacteria. This assumption simply isn’t true. Unlike the imprudent use of antibiotics, which act in a very targeted way against very specific antigens so that resistance can be gained via very minor antigen modifications, vaccines don’t enhance the production of resistant viral strains since vaccines educate the human immune system to attack a broader range of foreign antigens. The resulting effect is just the opposite of what Dr. Malone has claimed. Resistant COVID-19 strains arise at a much greater rate in areas where there is little immune resistance to the virus. Indeed, of the four existing variants of concern to date, all four emerged in 2020, long before the start of public vaccination campaigns. In particular, the Delta variant, which has been making headlines around the world, was first detected in October 2020. This observation demonstrates that halting vaccination efforts won’t stop the emergence of virus variants—after all, variants are entirely capable of emerging in the absence of vaccination. Natural immunity following infection would simply offer no significant advantage in this regard. Again, Dr. Malone got it wrong. What then, of any real concern, did he get right?

      Now, if you think this is a mistaken view of Dr. Malone, and that the article I cited was an unfair “hit piece” against a very reasonable man, by all means, do explain to me why you think he’s correct in his claims against the mRNA vaccines. Explain to me the mechanism by which these mRNA vaccines are more dangerous to the body compared to an actual COVID-19 infection…

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      • People can read Dr Martin Kulldorff’s and Dr Robert Malone’s, and others, articles for themselves and decide.

        I still find it perplexing and disturbing that you are standing by a liberal hit piece in the Atlantic. Like I said, you are putting your own credibility on the line, in my opinion.

        This will be my last post here on COVID19. I don’t think that anything more will be productive or helpful.

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        • Certainly, people can indeed read all of these things for themselves. That’s the whole point of having a comment section.

          For my part, I’ve explained in some detail my reasoning for my various positions, in response to some of your arguments that I personally find less than convincing – including my problems with many of the claims of Dr. Malone.

          You, on the other hand, don’t seem interested in actually explaining why you think his arguments, or the arguments of a handful of others, against the mRNA vaccines are correct. Yet again I ask you, by what mechanism? Where’s the actual evidence?

          I don’t care who you are. I don’t care if you’re from Harvard or Yale or have a Nobel Prize. Without good evidence to back you up, arguments from authority alone, or personal anecdotal stories, just aren’t helpful or credible if the weight of generally-available scientific evidence is pointing in another direction. So, you see, just a few details based on the weight of actual evidence would be helpful here… and not just for me! 😉

          But yes, listing off more of the same types of unsupported claims, without any substantive response or detailed explanations to the counter-evidence presented, really isn’t productive or helpful here… and never was.

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  4. Sean

    I’m not sure where you are coming from sometimes. I almost detect hostility in your tone here.

    “You, on the other hand, don’t seem interested in actually explaining why you think his arguments, or the arguments of a handful of others, against the mRNA vaccines are correct. Yet again I ask you, by what mechanism? Where’s the actual evidence?”

    I don’t pretend to be an epidemiologist or infectious disease specialist, like you do. I work in a primary care clinic, ER, and a small rural hospital taking care of inpatients and nursing home patients. I have seen and treated quite a few covid patients over the last 2 years. Many of our nursing patients died of covid before the vaccine was availabe. The vaccine has decreased the mortality in nursing home patients. (Just curious, how many covid patients have you actually seen and treated Sean?)

    I don’t believe a fellow like Dr Martin Kildorff is speaking without evidence. In fact, if you actually read that article, he talks about the data from Sweden regarding covid and children.

    “Dr. Martin Kulldorff is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a biostatistician and epidemiologist at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He helped develop the CDC’s current system for monitoring potential vaccine risks, and he is also one of the co-authors of the Great Barrington Declaration, which argued for “focused protection” of the most vulnerable, instead of lockdowns.”

    So if a person with Dr Kulldorff’s credentials as an epidemiologist and CDC advisor recommends no vaccine for children, I take note. And I would probably go with his recommendation over yours (you being a pathologist in California).

    I don’t care who YOU are either Sean. I will do my own research and draw my own conclusions. I was AOA class of 1983 at Loma Linda. I do have a functioning brain also.

    Regarding Dr Robert Malone. I find some of his arguments cogent. But I don’t have the time or desire to try and defend every comment of his with “evidence” like you seem to want. People can listen to him for themselves and draw their own conclusions.

    But again Sean. Please please don’t resort to liberal hit pieces like the one in Vanity Fair to support your positions. It really really does not look good and is not helpful.

    Best regards

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    • Look, I’ve read all of the articles that you’ve presented to me. Then, I presented some counter evidence that made good sense to me. You didn’t respond in kind. That’s fine, but don’t expect to simply cite the arguments of those who hold a very minority position within the scientific/medical community and expect no push back or challenge – especially when it comes to some of the arguments that have been forwarded by those such as Dr. Malone that are clearly false and/or misleading. He just loses credibility when he makes some of the outlandish claims that he has made. And, Tom Bartlett (of The Atlantic) is by no means the only one to point this out – even though I think he was pretty even-handed in his article (interesting that you start off the discussion with a Vanity Fair article that you found “interesting”, but jump all over me when I cite an Atlantic article back to you). Many scientists and prominent doctors have come out against the claims forwarded by Dr. Malone. What do you do with their arguments? Do you just dismiss them out of hand?

      There are very good reasons why the vaccines are strongly supported by the significant majority of scientists and physicians around the world, to include the significant majority of epidemiologists. Interestingly, contrary to the claims of Dr. Malone, 88% of epidemiologists think that persistent low vaccine coverage in many countries would make it more likely for vaccine-resistant mutations to appear (Link). This only makes biological sense given that the immune system doesn’t work in the same way as antibiotics work (Dr. Malone seems to be confused here). Most epidemiologists also think that health care providers should be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19:

      Hospitals and other healthcare facilities should require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, according to a consensus statement by the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) and six other leading organizations representing medical professionals working in infectious diseases, infection prevention, pharmacy, pediatrics, and long-term care. (Link)

      Sure, as previously mentioned, the decision to vaccinate children is not as clear-cut as it is for vaccinating adults. However, this also doesn’t mean that the decision to do so is without good evidence or that Dr. Kulldorff knows something that no one else knows. That’s just not true. The evidence that he mentions is limited in that he fails to address quite a bit of evidence that seems to work against him. That’s the problem. He simply doesn’t seem to effectively address the totality of evidence that is currently available on this question.

      As far as me being “hostile” toward you, what have I said that you interpret as hostility? – beyond a simple disagreement? You’re the one saying that you find my position “disturbing” and that I’m the one who “drank someone’s Koolaid” and occasionally respond in ALL CAPS like you’re shouting at me. Where have I responded to you in such a “hostile” manner?

      I’m not questioning your intelligence. Graduating AOA is wonderful. The fact remains, however, that this simply isn’t helpful to me or to anyone else who might question your position on this topic. While I don’t treat patients, as a pathologist, I work in the hospitals around here on a daily basis – particularly dealing with the hospital labs. I see the COVID patients in the ICUs. I see their lab results deteriorate over time. I know when they die and why they die. We lost 10 people over the last couple of days to COVID – to include three less than 50 years old. My brother-in-law, the well-known pulmonologist Dr. Roger Seheult who works in S. Cal and runs an ICU there also graduated AOA. He directly treats COVID patients and personally holds their hands as they die – the vast majority of whom are unvaccinated. This includes young otherwise healthy people as well. Roger is begging people to get vaccinated – for very good reason. He sees the devastation that COVID is causing firsthand. He’s seen his ICUs filled well beyond capacity with the unvaccinated. Rationing care has been a real problem. This is a real pandemic that has fast become a pandemic of the unvaccinated due to the influence of those like Dr. Malone and the misinformation about vaccines that he, and a handful of others like him, have been spreading around.

      The risks associated with the vaccines are minimal in comparison to the risks of getting infected by COVID-19 – they truly are. This is apparently true even for young otherwise healthy people – particularly when one considers the damage that a COVID-19 infection can do to otherwise young healthy people who don’t end up dying, but end up with long-term injuries instead. So, if you still think otherwise, please do explain the mechanism to me – because Dr. Malone certainly doesn’t do so in any way that makes any sense. If you can do better, I’m all ears.

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  5. Structure of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein
    Current Opinion in Virology, October 2021

    https://reader.elsevier.com/reader/sd/pii/S1879625721000973?token=37910ED204DE3D7F493DA5A6F47D5D1C013231E32D034D9BCDD8F7556778EAEC11D07A564998607A4BA279ACAF4FD947&originRegion=us-east-1&originCreation=20211030164337

    Your persistent challenge to “show me the mechanism” has actually stimulated me to do further reading and study about COVID19. Here is a recent article about the S protein.

    The complexity of the biology at the molecular level is “mind boggling”, but interesting nevertheless.

    My undergraduate degree is a BS in Engineering. So, believe it or not, I have great interest in pure science and “mechanisms of action”, etc.

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    • The structure of the spike protein has been known for some time. It is also known that the structure of the spike protein used in the mRNA vaccines has been modified so that it is limited to its “prefusion” conformation by two proline mutations. This limits its biological activity since it cannot take on the fusion conformation or shape that it adopts naturally when it binds to the ACE2 receptors. So that should cut down even more on the ability of the spike protein produced by the mRNA vaccines to produce adverse biological activity in the human body (Derek Lowe, May 4, 2021).

      So, again, by what mechanism do you suggest that the vaccine, where the vast majority of the spike proteins produce remain local at the site of injection, could, even theoretically, produce more harm to the body as compared to an infection by the live COVID-19 virus that replicates itself in large numbers throughout the entire body?

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  6. Further reading has revealed to me that there are protein based COVID19 vaccines coming.
    Do you know if any of these are available for general use?
    I would not hesitate to have one of these myself.

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    • If some people are more comfortable with Novavax (a more standard protein-based vaccine) that’s great! However, truly, the Novavax vaccine works the very same way that the mRNA vaccines work. They are all based on presenting the COVID-19 spike protein to the human immune system. There just is no fundamental difference here.

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  7. https://www.mdpi.com/1999-4915/13/10/2056/htm

    Open AccessArticle
    SARS–CoV–2 Spike Impairs DNA Damage Repair and Inhibits V(D)J Recombination In Vitro

    Viruses, October 13, 2021

    Interesting article which may have implications for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

    “The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines produce the full-length spike protein.”

    (It’s going to be interesting to see if you post this. It is your website, so I understand how things work.)

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    • This was an in vitro study published in an “Open Access” journal that is not peer-reviewed. When open access papers (aka Pay to Publish) just aren’t as reliable and often present basic mistakes and less than credible theories. That’s what seems to have happened here in this paper.

      In real life, the modified spike proteins produced by the vaccines are limited to the surfaces of postmitotic muscle cells. They are then taken up by macrophages and are broken down before fragmented antigen pieces of the spike protein are presented to T- and B-cells to educate the adaptive immune system. The authors themselves, in this paper you cite, note that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is not known to infect B- or T-cells – and neither does the lone spike protein produced by the mRNA vaccines. That’s just not what happens. Rather, in this in vitro study, the authors artificially transfected their study cells with plasmids that produced the proteins artificially inside their study cells. That’s just not what happens in real life when it comes to B- and T-cells. The suggested theory of the exosomal transfer of genetic material from a cell that is producing a spike protein via the vaccine, to T- or B-cells is a very very unlikely scenario when it comes to producing any significant real-life effect.

      In comparison, any concern regarding this sort of mechanism would be far FAR more likely for an actual live SARS-CoV-2 infection…

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      • You state “This was an in vitro study published in an “Open Access” journal that is not peer-reviewed. When open access papers (aka Pay to Publish) just aren’t as reliable and often present basic mistakes and less than credible theories. That’s what seems to have happened here in this paper.”

        From the article “Viruses is a peer-reviewed, open access journal of virology, published monthly online by MDPI. The American Society for Virology (ASV), the Spanish Society for Virology (SEV), the Canadian Society for Virology (CSV), the Italian Society for Virology (SIV-ISV), the Australasian Virology Society (AVS) and more societies are affiliated with Viruses and their members receive a discount on the article processing charges.”

        Apparently Sean you are incorrect in saying this is not a peer reviewed article. I find it quite interesting that you, a pathologist in California, always seem to know more than, or disparage, researchers at other institutions, if they happen to disagree with you.

        You also say “In real life, the modified spike proteins produced by the vaccines are limited to the surfaces of postmitotic muscle cells.” I am not sure this is accurate either. The mRNA (in the vaccine) enters muscle cells and is translated into the spike protein in the cytoplasm. So initially it is in the cytoplasm of the muscle cells.

        See the article “mRNA vaccines for COVID-19: what, why and how”
        International Journal of Biological Sciences, 4-10-2010
        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8071766/pdf/ijbsv17p1446.pdf

        “In real life, the modified spike proteins produced by the vaccines are limited to the surfaces of postmitotic muscle cells.” Also, do you have a reference please for this statement?

        .

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        • You’re talking about a mechanism here where the spike protein somehow harms the abilities of T- and B-cells, resulting in reduced adaptive immunity. The problem here is that the proposed mechanism to do this is very very unlikely to significantly affect T- or B-cells. The spike protein coded by the mRNA vaccines is produced within muscle cells, not T- or B-cells. The spike protein is then expressed on the surface of these muscles cells before being taken up by antigen-presenting cells and broken down into antigens that are then presented to T- and B-cells. Again, as already mentioned, The authors themselves, in this paper you cite, note that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is not known to infect B- or T-cells – and neither does the lone spike protein produced by the mRNA vaccines. That’s just not what happens. Rather, in this in vitro study, the authors artificially transfected their study cells with plasmids that produced the proteins artificially inside their study cells. That’s just not what happens in real life when it comes to B- and T-cells. The suggested theory of the exosomal transfer of genetic material from a cell that is producing a spike protein via the vaccine, to T- or B-cells is a very very unlikely scenario when it comes to producing any significant real-life effect.

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        • You still have not adressed this issue:

          ************

          You state “This was an in vitro study published in an “Open Access” journal that is not peer-reviewed. When open access papers (aka Pay to Publish) just aren’t as reliable and often present basic mistakes and less than credible theories. That’s what seems to have happened here in this paper.”

          From the article “Viruses is a peer-reviewed, open access journal of virology, published monthly online by MDPI. The American Society for Virology (ASV), the Spanish Society for Virology (SEV), the Canadian Society for Virology (CSV), the Italian Society for Virology (SIV-ISV), the Australasian Virology Society (AVS) and more societies are affiliated with Viruses and their members receive a discount on the article processing charges.”

          Apparently Sean you are incorrect in saying this is not a peer reviewed article. I find it quite interesting that you, a pathologist in California, always seem to know more than, or disparage, researchers at other institutions, if they happen to disagree with you.

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        • There’s “peer review” and then there’s peer review.

          Beall remained critical of MDPI after removing the publisher from his list of predatory open access publishing companies. In December 2015 he wrote that, “It is clear that MDPI sees peer review as merely a perfunctory step that publishers have to endure before publishing papers and accepting money from the authors” and that “it’s clear that MDPI’s peer review is managed by clueless clerical staff in China.”

          Beall, Jeffrey (17 December 2015). “Instead of a Peer Review, Reviewer Sends Warning to Authors”. Scholarly Open Access. Archived from the original on 13 March 2016.

          In July 2021, an article titled “Journal citation reports and the definition of a predatory journal: The case of the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI)” was published in the academic journal Research Evaluation, written by María Ángeles Oviedo-García. Oviedo-García argued that MDPI used self-citation practices known as “citation cartels” to increase the apparent Impact Factor of MDPI journals, and that MDPI journals bear a number of hallmarks of predatory publishing. MDPI also released a public comment on the article on August 19th, 2021, claiming the article was predicated on the notion that MDPI was a predatory publisher, and that the article misrepresents MDPI business practice. In that comment, MDPI did confirm that its journals had some of the highest self-citation rates amongst academic publishers. The article in Research Evaluation later received an editorial “Expression of Concern,” and as of November 25th 2021, an investigation is ongoing.

          Regardless of all of this, the main point that the authors of this paper make is not substantiated by their research. T-cells and B-cells simply are not affected by the mRNA vaccines to any significant degree. So, their arguments really are mute here. That’s the bottom line. You still have no mechanism behind your claims that the mRNA vaccines are more dangerous than they are beneficial or more risky than getting a live COVID-19 infection.

          In summary, so as not to contribute to the continuance of malpractice: 1 researchers should neither send papers for their publication, nor cite them, nor act as reviewers for them, nor form part of their editorial committees; 2 research institutions should inform researchers of the reality of predatory journals and their iniquitous consequences at an individual and general level; and, 3 evaluation agencies and committees should ignore the registers that refer to predatory journals. Lastly, but by no means least of all, selective databases should conduct periodic controls and strengthen the criteria for the incorporation of journals, so as to prevent their good names from serving, as previously said, to prolong malpractice among journals ‘that prioritize self-interest at the expense of scholarship and are characterized by false or misleading information, deviation from best editorial and publication practices, a lack of transparency, and/or the use of aggressive and indiscriminate solicitation practices’ (Grudniewicz et al. 2019).

          These steps are particularly urgent for databases that already include MDPI-journals (WOS, PubMed and Scopus), since the defining features of predatory journals are that they systematize ‘for profit publication’ (COPE 2019) and ‘prioritize self-interest at the expense of scholarship’ (Grudniewicz et al. 2019). JCR-indexed MDPI-journals betray both traits through a steady increase in number of their published articles (sometimes to several hundred in just one regular issue) and special issues. Besides, JCR-indexed MDPI-journals mimicking names and publicly claimed rapid publication is in direct breach of the COPE/DOAJ/OASPA/WAME Principles for Transparency and Best Practices in Scholarly Publishing. Furthermore, the low variability of timeframes for peer review regardless of the scope of the journal, the size of its editorial board and the volume of published articles all raise questions over the levels of quality assurance required from a legitimate journal/publisher. Finally, self-citation and intra-MDPI citation rates artificially increase the impact factors of JCR-indexed MDPI-journals that is quite clearly in breach of best practice and integrity in science. (Link)

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        • Also no reply to this request. I can’t find this in any recent articles.

          *********

          “In real life, the modified spike proteins produced by the vaccines are limited to the surfaces of postmitotic muscle cells.” Also, do you have a reference please for this statement?

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        • The spike protein that is produced by the mRNA vaccines has an anchoring portion, a “transmembrane domain” that keeps it embedded in the membrane of the muscle cell that produced it.

          “The end product in host cells expressing these mRNA vaccines is a surface-exposed, membrane-anchored, glycosylated, and trimerized Spike protein resembling the 3-D structure of the native viral Spike protein, to the extent that it interacts with its cognate receptor, hACE2.” (Link)

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      • “Regardless of all of this, the main point that the authors of this paper make is not substantiated by their research.”

        I am going to email the contacting author and see if they can respond to your comments about their paper.

        The point that concerned me the most was that they state the spike proteins enter the nucleus and interfere with DNA repair mechanisms. I would like to know if this can happen in the muscle cells at the site of injection.

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        • That would be concerning if it actually occurred, to any significant degree, in white blood cells – like T-cells and B-cells. However, contrary to the suggestion of the authors, this just isn’t the case and there is no reasonable mechanism whereby this might be the case.

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  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8412105/
    Thrombotic events and COVID-19 vaccines

    https://www.healio.com/news/primary-care/20211101/although-rare-more-data-link-jj-covid19-shot-to-cerebral-venous-sinus-thrombosis?utm_source=selligent&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=news&M_BT=1972152615592
    Although ‘rare,’ more data link J&J COVID-19 shot to cerebral venous sinus thrombosis

    More potential thromboembolic “adverse events” from covid vaccines.

    “The benefits outweigh the risks.” Of course, they always do.

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    • This is old news. The J&J viral-vector vaccine has been linked to a real, although rare, increase in cerebral venous sinus thrombosis – particularly in younger women. That’s why, if the option is available, I’ve consistently said that the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer or Moderna) are to be preferred.

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  9. Sean, this article from the BMJ, authored by a double-vaccinated writer, is of interest: “Covid-19: Researcher blows the whistle on data integrity issues in Pfizer’s vaccine trial” at https://www.bmj.com/content/375/bmj.n2635

    The whistleblower was a clinical trial auditor, with a 20-year career in research. Her concerns about the conducting of the Pfizer trials weren’t addressed, the article states. It explains how the FDA doesn’t handle oversight issues in a timely manner, and gives examples. And all that calls into question the integrity of the Pfizer clinical trial data.

    I found “How Fauci Fooled America” at https://www.newsweek.com/how-fauci-fooled-america-opinion-1643839 by professors from Harvard and Stanford also of interest. The observations made good sense.

    I’m glad you aren’t in favor of vaccine mandates.

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    • This was a contract company (Ventavia), not Pfizer itself, accounting for 1000 of the 44000+ participants in the phase 3 trials. While the procedures were sloppy in this particular company, they do not appear to have significantly affected the overall integrity of the data.

      Another reason I say this is because billions of people around the globe have now been fully vaccinated, giving researchers plenty of real-world data that clearly shows the safety and efficacy of the vaccines. The Pfizer Phase III trial involved 44,000 people. This is not to excuse the very real problems that happened at Ventavia. However, these problems do not appear to have substantially compromised the data that was and now is currently available.

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      • “While the procedures were sloppy in this particular company, they do not appear to have significantly affected the overall integrity of the data.”

        How do we know? a) How do we know that no other contractors were as sloppy? b) How do we know that “the overall integrity of the data” wasn’t “significantly affected”?

        “Another reason I say this is because billions of people around the globe have now been fully vaccinated, giving researchers plenty of real-world data that clearly shows the safety and efficacy of the vaccines.”

        Then why use randomized double-blinded trials at all if safety and efficacy can be clearly shown by just doling the real thing out to everyone?

        Understand my question? The “real-world data” isn’t coming from something that is randomized and double blinded, and thus can never speak to the question of safety and efficacy like a randomized double-blinded trial can.

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        • Randomized double-blinded placebo-controlled trials are very important for science. While it is unfortunate that some small portion of the data appears to have been tainted, there is no good evidence that this was a trend among other testing sites. Also, real-world data is important to science as well – especially when hundreds of millions of people are involved.

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    • I don’t think you understand my article. I specifically said that I’m not personally in favor of vaccine mandates for COVID-19 in particular since I think that there are far more effective means of promoting the vaccines and that mandates are more likely to be counterproductive in this regard. However, when citing “religious exemptions”, many are being inconsistent – which can also backfire in the future when it comes to religious issues of even more importance.

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  10. https://aaronsiri.substack.com/p/cdc-admits-crushing-rights-of-naturally

    CDC Admits Crushing Rights of Naturally Immune Without Proof They Transmit the Virus
    After formal demand, the CDC concedes it does not have proof of a single instance of a naturally immune individual spreading the virus.

    When all this plays out in courts and lawsuits across the land, things may get real interesting. Hopefully neither side will be able to bluff or shoot from the hip in court.

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    • The CDC’s research team found that “unvaccinated people with a prior infection within 3 to 6 months were about 5-1/2 times more likely to have laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 than those who were fully vaccinated within 3 to 6 months with the Pfizer or Moderna shots. They found similar results when looking at the months that the Delta variant was the dominant strain of the coronavirus.” (Link)

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      • My personal observations certainly don’t correlate with this.

        I have seen many so called “break through infections” in people that have had the Monderna vaccine. Some are mild “break through” infections, and some required hospitalization.

        I can’t recall any hospital employees that I work with, or patients, who have had covid, and then got reinfected a second time. (I am talking about people that have had no previous vaccination.)

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        • Yeah, well, your personal experience isn’t everyone’s experience. I wish it were, but it doesn’t seem to be. The results of a recent CDC study suggest that COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are around five times more effective at preventing hospitalization than a previous infection. (Link)

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        • https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc2108120

          “Severity of SARS-CoV-2 Reinfections as Compared with Primary Infections”

          “Yeah, well” this study from NEJM does correlate with my own experience.

          250,000+ patients that had covid disease, and no vaccine

          “Low rate of reinfection”

          “No critical patients or deaths in those with reinfection”

          Which makes me question the need for a vaccine in those that have had covid infection.

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        • I’m not sure what’s going on in Qatar, but COVID-19 reinfection rates are not that uncommon here in the States – and there have been a fair number of deaths following reinfection. Again, several friends of mine have been reinfected and symptomatic. A cousin of mine was reinfected three times.

          State health officials say nearly 11,000 people in North Carolina have been reinfected with COVID-19, dispelling a common belief that you can’t get the virus a second time. The Department of Health and Human Services said of the 10,812 reinfection cases, 94 people have died. It is also reporting that of those vaccinated, there have been just 200 reinfection cases. (Link)

          While the rates are certainly much lower compared to those who have had no exposure to COVID-19 antigens (via infection or via vaccine), at around 1%, it still seems as though the vaccines offer at least comparable immunity without the risks associated with an actual COVID-19 infection. It’s not that I do appreciate the protective advantages of natural immunity. I’m very hopeful that natural immunity will substantially contribute to eventual herd immunity around the world. However, given the option, getting the vaccine is much better than taking a chance with a COVID-19 infection.

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        • That’s true. So, the question is if these limitations are substantial enough to reasonably overcome the conclusions of the authors. The fact remains that your own personal experience doesn’t seem to be the same as those published in papers like this one where there are actual reinfections for those who have previously had COVID-19. Several friends of mine have been reinfected and a cousin of mine has been reinfected three times…

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  11. https://www.theepochtimes.com/mkt_breakingnews/fda-asks-court-for-55-years-to-fully-release-pfizer-covid-19-vaccine-data_4110761.html?utm_source=News&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=breaking-2021-11-18-1&mktids=ac18077764210e342f54a0002ebb98cd&est=9XZe3RAwN9F8os9BkyhaC9pF96mbieEOtKQo5IHzVj8iTItKFWjKJvx6jPbA92xlkfY%3D

    FDA Asks Court for 55 Years to Fully Release Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Data

    “The FOIA request for the data was made by a group of doctors and scientists, including a professor of epidemiology at Yale School of Public Health”

    Nothing to see here.
    Just move along. Move along. MOVE ALONG I SAID.

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    • The mRNA vaccines are not “gene therapy” in any meaninful sense of the term since they do not affect the genetics of a person and the end result functions exactly as traditional vaccines function – via the presentation of protein antigens to the adaptive immune system to educate it against future infections.

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        • Don’t you also disagree, by definition, with anything that doesn’t agree with your views? Come on now. If I agreed, then there would be no disagreement. The real question is, who has the greater weight of evidence? Again, where is your evidence? Where is your mechanism that makes any sense?

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        • “Bayer has responded noting that Stefan Oelrich was only talking about future applications of mRNA technology –”

          Do you have a reference for this response from Bayer? When I google it nothing comes up.

          (I guess it could also depend on how you define gene therapy. The DNA of a vaccine recipient may not get altered. But you are still using a modified viral gene mRNA. I wish there were more folks on this site to chime in and help clarify things. I don’t pretend to be a microbiologist, ID specialist, or molecular geneticist, etc.)

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        • If the DNA of a person does not get altered by the mRNA vaccines, then, by definition, these vaccines are not “gene therapy”. This is what was noted by Bayer itself in their response to the comments of Oelrich:

          The Bayer group tells 20 Minutes that this is “an obvious slip.” “At Bayer, [les vaccins à] mRNA does not come under gene therapy in the sense that is commonly attributed to this expression,” adds the company. (Link)

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      • “Stefan Oelrich, president of Bayer’s Pharmaceuticals Division, made these comments at this year’s World Health Summit, which took place in Berlin from October 24-26 and hosted 6,000 people from 120 countries. Oelrich told his fellow international “experts” from academia, politics, and the private sector that the novel mRNA COVID “vaccines” are actually “cell and gene therapy” that would have otherwise been rejected by the public if not for a “pandemic” and favorable marketing.”

        I think this could be debated. You are injecting a synthetic modified mRNA molecule, which contains the viral genetic information for the spike protein. You certainly are using viral genetic information. But of course the president of Bayer’s Pharmaceuticals Division has no idea what he is talking about.

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        • Come on now. The “viral genetic information” that is being used is limited to the production of the spike protein. That’s it. The mRNA sequence itself does not alter the DNA of a person – their actual genetic code. This vaccine is therefore NOT “gene therapy”. That claim is just nonsense in any meaningful sense of the term. And Stefan Oelrich never intended to suggest otherwise. He was only talking about future applications of the mRNA technology. He never claimed that the mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 function as gene-altering devices.

          Bayer has responded noting that Stefan Oelrich was only talking about future applications of mRNA technology – not that the current mRNA vaccines alter the genetics of a person – which clearly doesn’t happen. The suggestion has been made that he misspoke regarding terms that he used, but that he never intended to suggest that the current mRNA-based vaccines modify the DNA of a person.

          In any case, if you think otherwise, by all means, do share the mechanism by which this is likely to happen to any significant degree…

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