In light of contemporary work in black feminism, a critical consideration of police violence shows us that the ostensibly natural right to self-preservation is, in fact, not afforded to certain racialized (namely, black) subject positions.
Our political theology is strengthened by trusting that the words of the Son of Man are a fleshly restatement of what is divinely just and good and holy and lovely. Because Christ has come and his presence is with us, God’s words are even more accessible to us.
Even though the vaccination debate has nothing to do with religion, the public colored it with religious tones, and opted for policy inspired by the evolving culture of religious toleration and respect for individual conscience. After this move in the direction of post-reformation European culture took shape, public health turned medieval.
The weighty and earnest words of Deuteronomy ring out with welcome clarity in a time of partisan wrangling and division. God cuts to the chase, gets right to the bottom line, and calls out what is important—an invitation to a covenant for the common good.
Non-vaccinating parents are asking, in the name of religion, to risk their own child and their child’s classmates with a preventable disease. This is not a theoretical risk: the last outbreak of polio in the United States, to give one example, was in a Christian Scientist school with low vaccine rates.
If efforts for an autocephalous church serve the (neo)imperial agendas of “New Rome,” local nationalisms and local “national” churches will be blessed. If they don’t, local nationalisms and their cravings for autocephaly will be condemned in the name of (neo)imperial “universalism.”
Uprooting a fear without replacing it with helpful information is redundant. Therefore, it is time to shift focus from merely quashing anti-vaccine sentiment to intentionally building vaccine confidence. Nigeria provides a heartening case study on how this can be achieved.