No religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccines: MC Canada

‘...The command to love God and love our neighbour is paramount. Vaccinations allow us to live out this command.’

October 1, 2021 | Web First
Mennonite Church Canada
‘There is nothing in the Bible, in our historic confessions of faith, in our theology or in our ecclesiology that justifies granting a religious exemption from vaccinations against COVID-19,’ Mennonite Church Canada leaders said this week. (Image by ronstik/Pixabay)

Mennonite Church Canada’s executive ministers released a statement earlier this week responding to inquiries from constituents regarding exemption from COVID-19 vaccines.

The message, signed by Doug Klassen (Mennonite Church Canada), Garry Janzen (MC B.C.), Tim Wiebe-Neufeld (MC Alberta), Ryan Siemens (MC Saskatchewan), Michael Pahl (MC Manitoba) and Leah Reesor-Keller (MC Eastern Canada), states the following:

“For a religious exemption to be granted, rationale for exemption must be clearly indicated within our sacred texts or confessional statements. 

“We wish to clarify that there is nothing in the Bible, in our historic confessions of faith, in our theology or in our ecclesiology that justifies granting a religious exemption from vaccinations against COVID-19.

“We have heard concerns from some members of our constituency regarding the vaccines. However, we do not believe these concerns justify an exemption from COVID-19 vaccinations on religious grounds from within a Mennonite faith tradition.

“From the earliest biblical writings, in the words of Jesus Christ and in ecclesial writings since Jesus’ ascension, the command to love God and love our neighbour is paramount. Vaccinations allow us to live out this command. Not only do they reduce the severity of symptoms for those who become infected with COVID-19, but they reduce the risk of spreading the virus to those around us. We also note that individuals should make personal health care decisions based on advice given by their doctors.

“We pray for unity among us in the Spirit of Christ, who calls us into this life of love, especially for our most vulnerable neighbours.”

—Update (Oct. 22, 2021): Comments on this article are now closed.

‘There is nothing in the Bible, in our historic confessions of faith, in our theology or in our ecclesiology that justifies granting a religious exemption from vaccinations against COVID-19,’ Mennonite Church Canada leaders said this week. (Image by ronstik/Pixabay)

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Please come to the Mennonite church I attend & say this.

This statement is most welcome. Mennonites have a long history of seeing vaccinations as one of God's gifts for protecting both ourselves and our neighbours. In the early 1800s, Mennonites in Russia welcomed the smallpox vaccinations and avoided the devastation that their more vaccine hesitant neighbours faced during the epidemics.

Thank you for making this public statement. As a Mennonite I have been saddened by the behavior of some of our brothers and sisters, acting in ways that put ourselves and what they've seen on the internet above others and the call to love. Thank you for your leadership.

Thank you for putting this on the internet. As Christians, we need to live and lead by example. Vaccines allow us to do that.

I have a very good friend in a Mennonite community in Alberta who is very hesitant to be vaccinated and I truly hope he and his family will listen to reason. I pray that he and his family stay safe and healthy and that our community prayers will guide them to the truth and they see the wisdom in vaccines protecting your neighbours as well as yourselves. May God bless.