Readers write: April 12, 2021 issue

April 7, 2021 | Opinion | Volume 25 Issue 8
(Graphic by Betty Avery)

Reader calls on Mennonites to reject COVID-19 vaccines
: “A duty to love our neighbours,” March 1, pages 1 and 18.

I am deeply saddened that so many leaders of the Mennonite church are endorsing vaccinations for COVID-19, and that this magazine would print such a one-sided article. Surely there are some leaders who at least question the legitimacy of the global panic.

Why should we put our trust in a vaccine from any of the giant pharmaceutical companies when our “fearfully and wonderfully made” bodies can give us a stronger and broader-based protection from every current virus and all future mutations? Why would we put our trust in an injection of genetically modified foreign material into our bodies when the usual long-term test trials have not been conducted? Even the designers of these so-called vaccines acknowledge that they are being rolled out with unprecedented speed.

If we really wish to be good to our neighbours, we will say no to this massive, unnecessary vaccination program that serves only to generate massive profits for the same companies that have destroyed millions of lives and livelihoods across the globe with their proliferation of drugs, chemicals and genetically modified organisms in the name of health protection and crop protection.

It is so sad that the leaders of faith groups across the globe—with a few exceptions—have become complicit in spreading the biased government and media narratives.

I will refuse to accept this vaccine and pray that my choice will not lead to further restrictions of my fundamental human rights.

It is time to return to our Anabaptist roots of independent thinking and to object to this violence that is being inflicted upon humanity.
—Steve Martin, Clifford, Ont.


Beware the Trojan horse of humour
What is appropriate humour?” March 1, page 19.

I agree fully with author Joanne De Jong and Brian Froese that humour is certainly essential to have a healthy life. Proverbs 17:22 tells us, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”

The concern that I have is that it is with the Trojan horse of humour that much harm can also be done. Personally, I would place the The Simpsons TV show on the top of the list that has mocked and diminished much of what is sacred in our society. Yes, there are issues and hypocrisies that need to be addressed but, unfortunately, many people enjoy the safe place of a soft, comfortable chair from which they laugh at the problem rather than getting up and doing something about it.

When there are hypocrisies in the lives of adults in the faith communities, young people enjoy mocking the inconsistencies because it provides a release for the pain of confusion. For some, it gives them an excuse for not doing what is right. When the leaders fail, as illustrated by Jesus’ comment, “Do as they say but not as they do,” they were likely the laughing stock of the community. 

Unfortunately, laughing at them did not help to improve or correct the situation. Humour alone can be dangerous when humorists are using the failures of others to get a laugh for their own benefit. In reality, they are mocking the pain of the victim and legitimizing the offence of the offender. 

Jesus exposed the failure and he also gave serious instruction as to how to correct the situation. I believe that more than once Jesus might have finished his message with “Neither do I condemn you, go, but sin no more.”

Yes, laugh and the world laughs with you. It’s funny until you are the object of someone’s joke. We need to learn to laugh at our own mistakes and never take ourselves too seriously. 
—David Shantz (online comment)


Snail mail and email both appreciated
: “Instead of just hitting ‘Send,’ ” March 1, page 23.

I appreciated Angelika Dawson’s article.

I recently had the misfortune of spending two months in hospital due to some injuries and then living through COVID-19.

I now have a small drawer full of emails, cards and other messages sent to me by family, friends of my children and members of online church. These messages mean a lot to me. I have read and reread them and will do so again.

I appreciate Canadian Mennonite.
—Anna Neufeld, Ottawa, Ont.

Update (May 3, 2021): Thank you to those who offered responses. The online comments for this page are now closed. We advise all readers to follow the recommendations of their regional, provincial and national health authorities. –Virginia A. Hostetler, Executive Editor

(Graphic by Betty Avery)

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I am deeply saddened and even angered to read the comment by Steve Martin. I am gladly getting my vaccination and so is my family and everyone I know. The risks of the vaccine are less than the risks of COVID which has killed many. I do love my neighbours and will do all I can to help keep them safe. This includes believing scientists and medical experts!

I’m disturbed in reading Steve Martin’s letter, in part because it encourages the perpetuation of myths around COVID-19 and vaccines, but also because it undermines the work, consideration, wisdom and struggle that church leaders have gone through as they’ve offered guidance to our congregations over the past year. In printing letters or articles about COVID-19, I ask Canadian Mennonite to do their part to dispel myths and misinformation. Along with each printed article or letter, a link should be provided from a reputable source (for example, Health Canada or the World Health Organization) where readers can obtain facts and the most recent science regarding vaccines and the virus itself.

In his letter to the editor regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, Steve Martin says, “I will refuse to accept this vaccine and pray that my choice will not lead to further restrictions of my fundamental human rights.” It seems to me that those who focus on “MY fundamental rights” tend to neglect the rights of other people, and the responsibility we all have to safeguard the well-being of each other. If Steve Martin wants to risk his own health by refusing the COVID-19 vaccine, I guess that is indeed his right. But he doesn’t have a right to endanger others with whom he might come in contact. I trust that he will keep his vaccine-free body in complete isolation until the pandemic is totally over, many months from now. As for his scriptural reference to our “fearfully and wonderfully made bodies” there are also many scriptures that affirm the frailty of our bodies, including “He knows how we are formed, and He remembers that we are dust.”

Although I am not a proponent of censorship, I was disappointed that CM published the letter from Steve Martin. His comments question the reality of the pandemic and it's severity, and attempt to raise doubt on the efficacy and safety of approved vaccines. His comments border on promoting harmful conspiracy theories and I expect more from my church publication.

Dan Bergen

If Steve Martin decides to have no vaccination it is his business. But he should leave the church out of it. It has nothing to do with the faith if someone dies or is sick. Vaccinations helped to save millions of lives since we discovered vaccinations. And I was not vaccined as a child against the child sicknesses and had them all. That was no fun and I remember it well. Vaccines prevent sickness. I hope he keeps the distance to other people to not spread the virus, which is definitely there and Millions of people died because of it. I wish Steve Martin GOD's blessings and that he doesn't get infected by the virus. But it doesn't help not to do our part.

Does CM condone the opinion of Steve Martin regarding vaccines. I respect Steve's right to state his opinion, but by publishing this letter without and editorial comment, you are suggesting that CM agrees with what he is saying. The decision to get a vaccine is personal and should not be influenced by what we read and see in the media. Every medication has side effects. We all hope that the benefits outweigh the risks.

Thanks for this question, Sam. A letter or web comment is the opinion of the writer and is not to be taken as endorsed by this magazine or the church. —Virginia A. Hostetler, executive editor

The difference between a comment and a letter is that CM is choosing to publish a letter and thus giving a platform in the first place to a dangerous opinion that can cause harm.

By publishing this letter without editorial comment, Canadian Mennonite is failing to live up to their guiding principals which include

"Seeking and speaking the truth in love"

Publishing antivax letters which can directly lead to people dying is neither seeking, nor speaking truth. The science is clear that vaccines are safe and save lives.

My wife and I took the Moderna vaccine. This drug company has been working 10 years on preventing the sars virus, which is the new Covid 19 and variants. 10 years of research and finally they have a vaccine that helps our bodies fight the disease. This is no fly by night remedy and I choose to go with the science. Should unvaccinated Ontarians ever need hospital intervention for Covid 19 symptoms, I trust they will not make OHIP pay for their careless behaviour.