“We know it can be difficult to make a wise decision when there are various opinions and conflicting reports that the world provides, perhaps making it hard to know what to believe,” said Stephen Lett on jw.org. Boy, he sure got that right!
There have been adverse reactions to Covid vaccines. How common are they? One in a hundred or one in a million? How serious are they? Like stubbing your toe? Or like being struck by lightening? These are the questions that matter. You wouldn’t think it would be so hard to find answers to them, but it is. So Bethel tells what it knows, which is not everything, but it does fill in a lot of blanks.
They tell of those they find easiest to track—fellow Bethelites and special full-time servants—22,000 of the first and 44,000 of the second who have gone ahead with vaccination. Of the 66,000, four reported “severe adverse reactions that may be linked” to the vaccine. Those four are now all “stable and their conditions under control.”
These “statistics have been collected by our brothers, so we can trust these figures,” Lett says. And we can. It’s not a scientific study. It’s data. As data, it may be better than a scientific study. Alas, “follow the science” has become a joke these days, with everyone spinning it their preferred way and calling it “the science.” We have all learned from experience that if one study doesn’t go our way, just hold out for the next one that may.
Four out of 66,000 works out to .006%. I wouldn’t want to be that in that .006% but it seems pretty unlikely I would be. How much comfort I would take in my condition being “stable and under control” would depend upon just what that condition was. But doesn’t it roughly correspond to the odds of being struck by lightning or going down in a plane crash? In a world of 8 billion people you can find countless examples of anything.
At Bethel they are Bible-only people, and they are chomping at the bit to get back to their sole reason for being. Their special mandate is to prepare and distribute the spiritual food. Covid-19 just gets in their way. Take the vaccine and be done with it, seems their position. They can look around themselves and see people are not dropping dead once they take it. Might it cause long-term problems down the road? Well, so will Armageddon if left unannounced, so they don’t dare unannounce it. Bro Lett concludes with the line, using gestures peculiarly his, “The coronavirus is not the worst trial to strike out at all mankind and it won’t be the last. We can expect things to deteriorate even further as these last days march on till their end.”
In this eighth Governing Body update since Covid-19 began, he also relates some disaster relief efforts and introduces the next year’s text: “Those seeking Jehovah will lack nothing good.” (Ps 34:10) They are putting the pandemic behind them. Were lockdowns the answer and had the world followed their lead, Covid-19 would be a distant memory by now, since they locked down almost immediately. Been there, done that, they say of lockdown, it’s time to move on. They invite everyone to “get behind” them, which led one bro to say, “get behind them in what?” Take the vaccine is the first interpretation that comes to mind.
I admit this has not gone down the way I thought it would—you can’t always get your way. Several months ago, it was ‘vaccination is a health care matter and we do not presume to choose for others on such things.’ Later the statement was made that Witnesses were not anti-vaccine, apparently to counter the impression of some that they were, and it was pointed out some at Bethel have chosen to accept the vaccine. Then that “some” turned out to be just about everyone—99% in the U.S! It’s ‘pedal to the metal’ time there. You are not allowed to do stuff without the vaccine. You are allowed to do stuff with it. So they take it and move on. If it hasn’t gone down the way I thought it would, it has gone down in a way to get things done, so maybe I should have figured it.
Now, the trouble with all this, if there is one, is that you may suspect the Bethel brothers haven’t looked deeply into what’s cautionary of the vaccine. It is a downside of being single-minded. Do you suspect they just monitor media that ardently cheers the one hand and does all in its power to proclaim Tevye-like that “there IS no other hand”—which satisfies them because they want to get back to serious work?
If there’s one thing Witnesses are convinced of, it’s that this whole system of things is going down. Whoever looks aside from the plow is not well-suited for the kingdom of God—you know they’re not going to forget that Luke 9:62 verse. If one set of scoundrels isn’t driving the whole world into this ditch, then another set is driving it into that ditch. Who cares about winning a shoving match with Big Pharma or the conniving globalists? Losing out to the “normal” ungodly state of things is just as bad, and that’s what the pharma and globalist enemies want to get back to.
Of course, Bethel will never tell people to get vaccinated. They will not forget that “we are fellow workers for your joy” and not “masters over your faith.” (2 Corinthians 1:24) They will remember well: “Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls.” But they will lead by example, and this they are doing.
Maybe it’s because I hang out online a lot that I have come across a lot of friends aghast that the organization would so quickly embrace the Covid vaccine. Some of these friends are not listening to “the voice of strangers,” but they have vetted those strangers to separate the relative sheep from goats. They know, or at least they think they know, that Covid 19 responds readily to early treatment with mostly cheap (though increasingly hard-to-get) drugs). They cheer when the Nebraska Attorney General kicks back at the “official” storyline. The doctor who wrote the White House with the medical regimen that quickly cured Trump thinks there will one day be the equivalent of Nuremberg trials for those who let hundreds of thousands die by discrediting and even withholding treatment of an eminently treatable disease.
Moreover, their concern on vaccines is for long-term safety. Short term safety appears okay, per the Bethel stats, but on the long term these “hesitant” ones are dubious. They’re not moved by official promises of safety. They know that Vioxx was perfectly “safe” until the day it was pulled from the market to reveal a phalanx of Pharma lawyers empowered to beat away all its injured customers. They know the new vaccines are not like the old vaccines that when you took them it meant you didn’t get the disease. They don’t think they’re safe.
Some of these hesitant ones feel arm-twisted. Bethel explicitly says no one should be made to feel arm-twisted, but they feel it nonetheless. It is simply the nature of peer-pressure. One local bro reminds all at the meeting how we ought submit to government mandates, apparently misunderstanding that there are no government mandates in the US at present, but only a mandate that certain employers fire those unvaxxed. Feel strongly enough about the issue to walk away from your job and you have violated no mandate. Another speaks of how “our loyalty and obedience really allows us to get back together,” implying that those not onboard are disloyal and disobedient.
Relax. Not to worry. The game is the same, its just up on another level. If the concern is one of safety, a whole different set of Bible principles come into play. Nobody would dispute that Jehovah’s Witnesses are among the most safety-conscious in the world. And with safety principles on the front burner, even ‘obey the superior authorities’ principles begins to fade. Madame Moaaga pointedly did not obey the secular authority when she convinced herself that obedience to them would cause her harm.
These things happen. It’s human nature. Nothing to get all excited about. Indeed, if meetings should open with vax requirements and without a Zoom option , or even if there is a Zoom option, just how far will people go in sticking to their conscientious guns? It is a question some are asking of themselves.
As much as we are concerned about safety these days, what if someone does research and concludes they can best stay safe by relying upon distancing and other preventative measures? Stand your ground, if you think best, but be respectful standing it. That way you become an informed voice on something that is not the specialty of the Bethel brothers. So long as you do not get strident over it, who knows? In the event you are on to something, maybe they will one day take some pointers from you. In the event you are not, maybe you will take some pointers from them.
“Get behind the Governing Body” the bro said in Update #7, but get behind them in what? How about get behind them in remaining undistracted from the main mission? Don’t let it become our new cause, for we already have one. That is something everyone can agree on, and it doesn’t call for any decision as to vaccination. Through Zoom, informal, letters, phone & other non-contact means, many have proven to themselves that they can yet have a meaningful share in the ministry regardless of vaccination status. Research the matter all you want, for those so inclined, in case you’re cursed with being one of those high-information people who has to know everything about everything, but don’t become emotionally divided. You don’t want to be distracted from the good news.