A New Religion With A New Sacrament?

John Calvin (1509–64) famously wrote that the human heart is a “perpetual factory of idols” (Institutes 1.11.18).

What he meant is that since human beings are irrevocably and naturally religious and, after the fall, profoundly corrupted by sin, our religious inclinations do not disappear but are misdirected. The question is not whether humans will be religious but how? Yesterday on Twitter Jules Diner posted a quotation from a certain Thomas Sheridan, a writer hitherto unknown to me:

The ‘Pandemic’ has been a kind of religious event for most people. For the first time in [their] entire existences they had something meaningful to live for. It gave them rituals, fear of damnation, and hope for redemption and salvation with the vaccine[s] being the keys to ‘the kingdom of heaven.’ They could point fingers at heretics and unbelievers like their ancestors did back in the Middle Ages. [Ed. note: revised for punctuation and grammar]

I do not know if this is an original analysis but it seems true. There is a religious quality to some responses to the pandemic (and to other crises too). Consider the global cooling [1970s]/global warming [1980s–90s]/climate change [2000s] crisis. There are reasonable grounds for questioning the claims being made about anthropogenic [man-made] climate change but increasingly debate on this issue is being silenced. By definition science operates on the principle of doubt not trust. Anyone who knows just a little about the history of science or even its most basic principles knows that it operates on doubt, questions, discussion, and even debate. When scientists publish their results the first thing that happens is that other scientists try to replicate their methods and results to verify them. Science does not trust. It doubts and tests. Anyone who tells us to “trust the science” is advocating a dogmatic, unreasoning religion not science. Christianity, by contrast, has dogmas to be sure but it is not unreasoning. It is grounded in historical claims. We claim that the bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth is a historical event the evidence of which (i.e., Jesus of Nazareth) was witnessed by hundreds of people. We have written accounts, produced by sane, reasonable people of these historical events. Further, we claim that there is more evidence to come: Jesus will return bodily and there will be more bodily resurrections.

It has been observed that lab-coated scientists are the priests of Modernity. They are the clerics who diagnose the ills of our bodies (e.g., medicine) and souls (e.g., pyschiatry) and it is they who prescribe the cure of bodies and souls. Steadily through the Modern period their pronouncements have become unquestionable and dogmatic. So, the turn of the culture, during the pandemic, to lab-coated priests is understandable. It is interesting that Dr Fauci’s NIH staff photo shows him in a lab coat. The lab coat, of course, is the vestment for the new priesthood and Fauci is arguably the new pope of the new priesthood. Consider why Dr Fauci would have his lab coat on for his staff photo? It is not because he had just stepped out of the lab for the photo. He has been an administrator for years. His actual working uniform is a business suit not a lab coat. My grandfather, who was a farmer, did not wear his overalls for the family photo. Fauci wore his lab coat for his staff photo for the same reason a priest wears his vestments for a photo: to signify his office.

Yesterday afternoon my better half was remarking on the comments she was reading below a story in the New York Times about the airline strikes and the vaccine mandates. As she described the tenor and language of the comments I was struck by how much they reminded me of the angriest of witch-hunting medieval mobs. This is quite striking because I imagine that the subscribers of the NYT think of themselves as enlightened and tolerant but there was precious little of either evident in the comment box.

The pandemic is a religious event for many people or perhaps we might say that it has given rise to a new religion or a new manifestation of the the new religion. This religion is dogmatic to the extent that it forbids questions of any sort (except when, where, and how to comply). Nevertheless, there are reasonable and fair questions to be asked about the development and efficacy of the vaccines and the treatment of the virus generally but anyone who asks such questions is immediately branded a heretic. That is not the language of science of the most unreasoning and reactionary dogma. I recently heard a talk show host, whom I respect and admire, denounce critics of the vaccines as “diabolical” and the moral equivalent of Satan leading Adam and Eve astray in the garden. This commentator is not a man of the social, political, theological, or cultural left. He is firmly on the right in each of those categories. If one finds such rhetoric on the right, how much more vitriol and irrationality does one find on the left? Sheridan is correct. The pandemic has given post-Christians and neo-Pagans in America a sense of purpose that transcends mundane existence. It gives them an identity and a religion. They “believe the science.” Anyone who dares to do what scientists actually do, i.e., question, doubt, test, and wait for more evidence, is denounced as a heretic. It is remarkable that it is the “enlightened” who are the most dogmatic about the vaccines and the “unenlightened” who are denounced as the late-modern equivalent of Copernicus or Galileo. It should surprise us, however, when self-identified Christians lapse into the rhetoric of the neo-pagans.

To understand the neo-pagans it is instructive to know something about the original pagans. The Romans were, for example, in their way, deeply religious in the early years of Christianity. It was not that they all believed in the Greco-Roman pantheon but they did believe in conformity. The authorities and the people did not care so much what one thought internally or whether the the Roman religion was really true (Greek philosophers and Roman scholars had been raising doubts for hundreds of years). What they valued was conformity. So it is now. People who could not tell you the history of the corona viruses or how the virus behaves, who can transmit it and how, and why or how the vaccines are supposed to work or how they were developed and what are the difficulties in tracking efficacy and adverse reactions are demanding conformity as the price of belonging to civilized society. In that regard, the new religion is a blind faith in the priests of our age. Christians, however, took a different approach to conformity. To the Corinthians the Apostle Paul set certain boundaries regarding conformity and allowed liberty on other things.

The ancient Christian distinction between the sacred and the secular is valuable, even essential. It was the pagan Romans who rejected it and who insisted on a state-cult and outward conformity to its rites. The early Christians begged for liberty to participate in Roman society as a secular matter but to be allowed to pursue the Christian faith as a sacred matter. More than anyone it is Christians who should be best able to see the value of distinction between the sacred and the secular and medicine ought especially to be regarded by us as a secular matter and not a sacred or religious matter. Of course the pagans elevate medicine to a religion. That is the sort of thing that pagans do. They carry idols in their pockets and in their hearts. We, however, who believe in Jesus, have been delivered from idolatry. Thus, John wrote to the churches of Asia Minor,

And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols (1 John 5:20; ESV).

Calvin was right. Our hearts are idol factories and some Americans have made a new religion, instituted a new orthodoxy, a new priesthood, a new inquisition, and a new sacrament. To Christians, during the pandemic, I have been appealing to Paul’s instructions to the Corinthians. To those who refused to wear a mask in church or take basic steps (e.g., sanitation) to prevent the spread of the virus or respect the concerns of their brothers and sisters, I appealed to Paul’s instruction regarding the weaker brother. To those, however, who would make the vaccine a test of the new orthodoxy, I would appeal to Paul’s instructions regarding meat. If one is disposed to receive the vaccine without raising any questions of conscience, let him do so (see 1 Cor 10:27). If, however, one has scruples about the vaccines and/or concerns about the efficacy and safety thereof, he is also entitled to his liberty before the Lord.

So, for us Christians, let vaccines be vaccines and not sacraments. Let science be science and not a new religion. If something may not be questioned, however, it is a religion and not science.

©R. Scott  Clark. All Rights Reserved.


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  1. How is it we are here, on this path we walk?
    In this world of pointless fear filled with empty talk
    Descending from the ape as scientist-priests all think
    Will they save us in the end?
    We’re trembling on the brink…
    …How is it we are here?

    The Moody Blues from “How is it (We are Here)”, “A Question of Balance,” 1970

    • George, you’re showing your age.
      Which means you’ll remember this one too.

      It’s just a shot away, just a shot away,
      Oooh children, it’s just a shot away.

      Mickey Jabber and the Rolling Stones.

      All facetiousness aside, we are here precisely because our good God Almighty has so ordained it. As the good old Auth. Version* and queen of the Reformation translations puts it, as a man “pisseth against a wall”, so too our culture and society has [rejected] the light of natural revelation, much more special revelation and is reaping the consequences. God is sending strong delusions and confounding the world in its unbelief, if not giving it over to tyranny and oppression.

      (And the church as well if it doesn’t also repent, which for her might mean first things first. As in the first table of the law.)

      Some things are beyond the pale, whatever the worshippers of that unholy trinity of the right to abortion, same sex marriage and LGBQT might happen to opine. Neither arguably does the end of Christendom excuse such egregious actions. To whom much is given, much is required. The West used to know better.


      *1 Sam. 25:22, 34  1 Kings 14:10, 16:11, 21:21, 2 Kings 9:8  

  2. I am a fan of this blog, but recent posts regarding the pandemic are concerning. I hope to contribute to the dialogue and reflection.
    Vaccination and wearing masks has not been a great problem for Reformed believers in the rest of the world, but mostly in the United States alone.
    Why is that? I think it is because exalting Freedom above all things (including above taking care of my life and my neighbor) is a value of North America, but it is not a biblical one. Freedom is an idol when is put above the commandment of caring for beings made at the Image of God.
    So there is an idolatry that most of Americans are blind to: the Idol of Freedom above all.
    From a confessional and Reformed perspective, the Christian freedom that Paul speaks to the Corinthians does not allow me to disobey the commandments, or to fail to follow clear principles of Scripture.
    Well, taking care of myself and others in a global pandemic (which causes ICUs to become saturated, and because of that lots of people die) is part of obeying the sixth commandment “Thou shalt not kill”, as the Larger Catechism says:

    Q135: What are the duties required in the sixth commandment?
    A135: The duties required in the sixth commandment are, all careful studies, and lawful endeavors, to preserve the life of ourselves and others by resisting all thoughts and purposes, subduing all passions, and avoiding all occasions, temptations, and practices, which tend to the unjust taking away the life of any […]

    Q136: What are the sins forbidden in the sixth commandment?
    A136: The sins forbidden in the sixth commandment are, all taking away the life of ourselves, or of others, except in case of public justice, lawful war, or necessary defense; the neglecting or withdrawing the lawful and necessary means of preservation of life […] and: Whatsoever else tends to the destruction of the life of any.

    Please reformed in the United States. Do not contradict our confession to defend the idols of your nation.

    The post also reflects some dualism as a way of approaching science. It is indirectly denying the Truth in General Revelation. Opposing and denying science and projecting an “opposition” between science and the Gospel, is not something a Reformed should do. Please leave that dualism to the other Evangelicals and Pentecostals. Science contains truth. And all truth is Truth of God.
    Of course we must disobey when the Government tries to prohibit us from meeting. That’s a decision of the Church, not of the Government.
    But when we meet we must be careful not to expose others, and take on consideration the advice and developments from science. Not because the Government says so, but because the General Revelation also contains Truth, and because we obey God by caring for our neighbor.
    So do not despise vaccination, or any of the advances of science, which God in his Sovereign Providence grants to humanity.

    Furthermore, the Church should stop justifying those who do not want to wear masks or even oppose vaccination. Especially when the reasons are unsubstantiated skepticism, conspiratorial theories, idolatry of Freedom, and in some cases just convenience, individualism and selfishness. There is no reasonable nor biblical justification for that.

    Anyway, it is sad that individualism is so ingrained in American culture that many of you are unable to see beyond your own reality. You do not recognize the gift of being able to access a vaccine in the midst of a pandemic. That is a privilege that other less fortunate countries do not have.

    In love in Christ.
    A Presbyterian from Chile.

    PS: (Sorry if my English is bad, I am not a native speaker)

    • Yeah, but what about the cases where the various vaccines have caused irreparable physical damage to those who got jabbed? I can send you .pdf files of documented evidence of such. So it’s basically a roll of the dice.

      When I was very young, back in the 50’s, there was a polio epidemic, so I had to go get vaccinated. I had such a bad reaction to the vaccine that instead of giving me a second one they gave me an oral dosage. While this did have some side effects, too, they were less severe. Then, in the 60’s we all had to be tested for tuberculosis via a subcutaneous injection. I had such a bad reaction to that stuff that I was out of school for a week – probably would have been hospitalized in this day and age.

      So, since none of these COVID vaccines have been approved by the FDC yet, that I’m aware of anyway, and for someone who apparently has an at-risk immune system, would you think it wise to go get jabbed just to satisfy these so-called believers who are following the “new orthodoxy” (think Caesar not Christ)? Please re-think your comments.

    • David: Would you bind the consciences of Christians who refuse to be vaccinated because they believe that fetal cells harvested from non-medically necessary abortions were used in the production of the vaccines? Do you believe that those who have had COVID and have natural immunity and refuse to be vaccinated pose a threat? As it applies to Christians, your “science” may not be as black and white as you portray it. It may actually turn out to be very black indeed.

    • David,

      We disagree rather profoundly about the nature of science and its history. The history of science is the history of doubt, testing, and challenging “settled science.” The reason that we are no longer geocentrists today is because some doubted the Ptolemaic theory. In so doing they overturned a millennium or more of agreement and they were correct. Had they followed the “settled science” we would not have sent any one to the moon.

      Masks and distancing, which I’ve advocated here since the beginning of the pandemic–please see the resources on Covid and religious liberty–are not the same thing as a vaccine that lasts 6 months, that has the potential to harm otherwise healthy people, that was developed using fetal material obtained from elective abortions, and that is being imposed by the federal government and many employers more as a test of loyalty than as a matter of science.

      In the USA we are looking at losing 1/3 of our current police departments and tens of thousand of nurses, who were “heroes” just weeks ago but now have become “heretics” because they have seen for themselves some of the side effects of the vaccines. The same is true for EMS workers and cops. We’re also about to lose tens of thousands of healthy military personnel, some of whom are facing something other than an honorable discharge from the service, because the the federal government is trying to make a point rather than follow the science of natural immunity (esp. for those who have already had the virus).

      I’m grateful for those who have served on the frontlines of the healthcare system, sometimes at the expense of their own health and, in some cases, at the expense of their lives. They have been heroic. I do not blame them for the politicians turning medicine into another aspect of the political-cultural war raging in this country. I do blame the politicians, however, who have cynically capitalized on this issue for electoral reasons, to gin up their voting base and the demonize their opponents as unclean.

      We do have to love each other. Amen, but we are not always going to agree on what that entails, which is at the center of my concern here. Christians ought to be free to disagree about the vaccine.

    • I appreciate you bringing up natural revelation in the sciences. While I have no formal training in theology, I have a graduate degree in the health sciences, with an emphasis upon research design and biostatistics, and more than 30:years experience, so I hope you might allow me to comment with some expertise as to understanding this area of natural revelation.

      The entire response to this pandemic was not in accordance with what was known in 2019. Never have we experienced a pandemic when treatment was held in lieu of a vaccine. The vaccines, in particular, are quite suspect as they have skipped the first step of any sound research—animal studies, which generally take 2 to 3 years, minimally. Human testing stretches the total process out to 10 years or more, for good reason. Essential in any scientific evaluation is a control group. The developers have ruined their control group by offering the the members of that group, who had already received a placebo, the actual vaccine. Further, safety data is not being provided to the public by the manufacturers—this is a breach of accepted protocol. Finally, the number and type of adverse events already gathered by the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System would have and has always resulted in an immediate halt of the vaccine or drug.

      The natural revelation via science at this point is that these should be considered to be unsafe vaccines. You are certainly free to make your own decision, but I would encourage you to seek a better understanding. The scientific method is a wonderful blessing, but it is only as good as it’s proper use

    • I humbly suggest that the information which you have received regarding the state of affairs in our nation (U.S.) does not accurately convey the present state of affairs, and that this misunderstanding has caused you to offer an opinion which does not accord with the truth. A desire to preserve one’s liberty is not idolatry, especially when that liberty is being infringed illegally or without true need. He who is not free is oppressed; and scripture clearly denounces oppression and presents God as a liberator of those who suffer oppression (the Israelites in Egypt and at sundry points thereafter in the times of the Judges; comp. also Ps. 9:9, 44:24, 72:4, 94:20, 103:6, 119:134, 146:7; Prov. 14:31, Isa. 10:1).

      In our own country the actions that were taken to mitigate the outbreak and, later, to deal with the economic consequences of doing so, have been very arbitrary and unfair. Liquor and gun stores were deemed ‘essential’ businesses that were allowed to stay open, but schools (inc. Christian ones) and churches were shuttered. In some places large stores belonging to corporations were allowed to remain open while small businesses belonging to and employing the lower classes were closed, while in other cases casinos were allowed to operate but churches were shuttered. There was much partiality and imprudence in how all of this was administered, and the burden of its ill consequences fell disproportionately on the poor and middle class rather than on the wealthy.

      Also, in many cases the actions that have been taken have been of dubious legality, at best, and in some cases plainly illegal. In our nation the government consents to recognize our God-given liberties: officeholders swear to uphold the constitution that recognizes our rights. When the same people take actions that trample upon the rights they have sworn to protect, they are, to be quite blunt, oathbreakers, and for us to object to their own bad behavior is not idolatry but doing our duty as citizens. I would argue, further, that it is mandated by scripture: “Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked” (Prov. 25:26).

      As for the question of things like vaccines and masks, I will simply share my experience as a healthcare worker. I had COVID and suffered only a loss of smell and distorted taste. A cold would be more discomforting, by far. When I got the first dose of the vaccine I was bedridden for two days, so sore and fatigued at one point that I could not get out from beneath my covers on my bed. The second dose was slightly better: I only missed one day with severe nausea, chills, headache, fatigue, and body aches. I am under 35 and in good health otherwise and this was the only time I have had a bad reaction to a vaccine.

      As for masks, by the standards of my mask training for work common mask use – cloth masks; masks touched frequently, worn incorrectly, reused, or left unwashed, etc. – is either useless or actively harmful. The people who are most zealous about wearing and enforcing masks are people who are not clinicians (e.g. receptionists). The places in the hospital where masks are most unused or worn incorrectly (on purpose) are places like the emergency room and the intensive care units.

    • David,

      If we are going to bring up the 6th commandment, there was no mention of the criminal and inexcusable suppression of alternative, preventative and early treatments of the corona virus by the political, big pharma and media establishment. Ditto the disappearance the concept of herd immunity from approved discussions of CV.

      Two, the 9th commandment has some bearing on the refusal to acknowledge that there are those who have recovered from the virus already and are naturally vaccinated, the big pharma vaxxed and the unvaxxed instead of ignoring the distinction and demonizing the unvaxxed, which now includes those who have already got sick and recovered from the virus.

      Three, safety and profit can also be idols, as well as freedom. The 1st commandment forbids them all, not just the latter.

      Four, some of us are old enough, if not just ornery enough to remember the 2009 Swine Flu vaccine fiasco, which was preceded by the 1976 version IIRC.

      IOW there is nothing new under the sun. some of us have been here before. And if we got played the first time, we got catched up by the next time. All that glitters is not gold and big liars don’t admit to big lies.


  3. Men love to work to justify themselves to prove they are good. Unless the heart is settled upon the gospel it will seek for any substitute to feed the idol factory. Food, drink, religion, fame, fortune, and even pandemic observance.

  4. In revelations it talks about the Church’s lamp stand being taken away,….
    We are not to be given to a spirit of fear, I live in a small community where we mostly know one another , why is it that the most fearful that I encounter are among the Christians ?

  5. Thanks for the Article Dr. Clark, I think you have summed it up completely.
    It seems we here is the USA are now done with the deconstruction phase of the old civic religion and are in the formation/consolidation phase of a new one.

    Your is Christ…

    – Jim H.

  6. While I share your concerns about the New Paganism, I don’t agree with your depiction of science.

    “Science does not trust. It doubts and tests.” This is kind of true at some level, but it’s not much more than a caricature. When enough evidence has been built up to support a theory, that theory is, basically, trusted. No one anywhere, ever, has suggested that you should derive Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity before you trust your GPS to guide your car.

    If someone wants to understand more about General Relativity, they probably shouldn’t read Einstein’s papers–too old and abstruse. They could read a textbook or attend a public lecture by a physics professor. The should definitely NOT consult the type of guy who thinks he’s figured all of theoretical physics out in his free time, because the 52nd digit of pi is the same as the 52nd digit of Planck’s constant (this one is not a caricature; in the end these guys are gnostics and numerologists). Dr. Clark probably gets the same type of people, except it’s the 52nd letter of the 52nd chapter of Isaiah (KJV of course). I digress.

    The need to seek reliable information applies all the more to vaccines and COVID. The best sources of information are informed experts in the field who can synthesize the various streams of data into a coherent explanation. The scientific literature is a good source in principle and easier to access than ever, but the sheer number of papers is overwhelming, various papers are of varying quality and purpose, and the technical papers are definitely not written for lay readers. When scientific journals have introductory articles that explain and put in context the findings that come later in the issue, that can be useful. It’s probably better to ignore sources who get their salary for shouting their opinions on TV (for either side). And definitely ignore the memes (which are probably from Eastern European troll farms) and people who got their medical degrees from Facebook University.

    With all that in mind, there is a serious difference between I Corinthians 10 and the current pandemic. If someone chooses not to eat the meat at the dinner party, then they risk hunger for that night and perhaps social ostracism. If someone chooses not to be vaccinated, then they are at elevated risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19. The degree of that risk should determine behavior. We Reformed in particular should try to make our behavior consistent with our interpretation of the Sixth Commandment, which “requireth all lawful endeavors to preserve our own life, and the life of others.” Applying this commandment in the present context depends of course on understanding the risks of the disease and of the vaccines. Science can, ideally, help us evaluate these risks objectively, rather than emotionally. Science cannot completely or perfectly describe the degrees of risk, but the general answers provided by science have become clear in a fairly short amount of time (actually SARS viruses have been studied intensely for over a decade).

    Science is a human tool for understanding the natural world. We should take the information we gain from science with a grain–or more, as appropriate–of salt, but we shouldn’t ignore the information if it conflicts with our preferences or our politics. More importantly Christians should use the information we gain from science not for our own benefit or convenience, but, per I Cor. 10:24 (and many other Scriptures), for the good of others.

  7. That white lab coat means a person is “objective” and “inerrant” in all things general revelation.

  8. Don:

    I don’t think peoples issues are with science. Regular people employ scientific methods every day. The issue involves a particular scientist who doesn’t eat his own cooking. Further, when he failed to wash his hands before preparing the meal and then he was discovered, he lied. People that are less than candid when discussing their role in a leaked virus do not need to be making policy.

    Further, we have a President who is attempting to coerce people to accept a vaccine. In other words, he wants to create dozens of more problems. I hope that he has tens of thousands of vaccinated Social Workers ready to beat the streets when the Cops get canned.

    COVID-19 is not a science issue. It is a failed policy issue. I think that keeping cops on the streets, doctors and nurses in hospitals and soldiers, sailors and airmen in uniform constitutes “a lawful endeavor to preserve our own life, and the life of others.” People at most risk for COVID can gain protection from the vaccine. However, when you pull cops off the street, that vaccine will not protect you from predators.

    • Paul,
      I have no idea what you’re talking about in your first paragraph.

      In the second paragraph, do you mean Biden or Trump? Both are telling people to get vaccinated. I think the Trump administration deserves much more credit than they get, for encouraging speedy development of the vaccines.

      In your third paragraph I guess you’re complaining about vaccine mandates. I don’t know how this one will turn out, but I think the evidence is very strong that if Washington had not instituted a vaccine mandate for his troops, then the American Revolution would have failed.

    • Don, I realize that there is a lot of information indicating General George Washington mandated a smallpox vaccination for troops in 1777. I’m not sure how that happened when Dr. Edward Jenner didn’t develop the smallpox vaccine until 1796.

    • JerryM,
      “Mandatory variolation” may be the more accurate term than “mandatory vaccine.” Washington made his new recruits be exposed to the disease (probably about the same thing that killed Jonathan Edwards), and then wait out the inoculation period before they could join the rest of the soldiers. Washington was deeply worried about going to war with an army that might be suddenly very sick.

      I learned this from the terrific book “Bunker Hill” by Nathaniel Philbrick.

      • Don,

        According to the NIH,

        In May 1796, Edward Jenner found a young dairymaid, Sarah Nelms, who had fresh cowpox lesions on her hands and arms (Figure ​(Figure33). On May 14, 1796, using matter from Nelms’ lesions, he inoculated an 8-year-old boy, James Phipps. Subsequently, the boy developed mild fever and discomfort in the axillae. Nine days after the procedure he felt cold and had lost his appetite, but on the next day he was much better. In July 1796, Jenner inoculated the boy again, this time with matter from a fresh smallpox lesion. No disease developed, and Jenner concluded that protection was complete.

        As you suggest, according to the NIH, Washington’s troops were “variolated:”

        During the decades following the 1721 epidemic in Boston, variolation became more widespread in the colonies of New England. In 1766, American soldiers under George Washington were unable to take Quebec from the British troops, apparently because of a smallpox epidemic that significantly reduced the number of healthy troops (13). The British soldiers were all variolated. By 1777, Washington had learned his lesson: all his soldiers were variolated before beginning new military operations (14, 15). The success of variolation in the New World was not without effect on Europe. In fact, the rapid adoption of variolation in Europe can be directly traced to the efforts of Cotton Mather during the Boston smallpox epidemic in 1721. Although many British physicians remained skeptical even after Mather’s success, the data he had published were eventually influential. Variolation was subsequently adopted in England and spread from there throughout Western Europe.


        What is more material to the discussion, however, is the analogy between smallpox and Covid. This analogy is debated. Were Covid like smallpox we would have found a vaccine already, so the argument goes. We haven’t because they are not the same sorts of phenomena. Covid has an never ending supply of hosts. We were able to deprive Smallpox of hosts.

        It is a debatable thesis whether we even have a Covid vaccine now given the number of breakthrough cases etc.

  9. Don:

    Trump did not mandate a vaccine. Biden said that he would not. Here we are. What is especially troubling is the rhetoric being lobbed at people who are not vaccinated. I’m not suggesting Biden has done so but he hasn’t requested that it be toned down either.

    BTW, I’ve had three Pfizer vaccines and I’m not complaining about anything. I’m arguing that the vaccine mandate will have unintended consequences and that it is bad policy.

    Our neighbors in the northeast, to cite just one example — there are going to be hundreds, they are looking at higher than expected heating oil prices and supplies are stretched thin. Natural gas shortages look to be on horizon. Biden’s mandate fallout has yet to hit with full force but when it does, things are going to get worse . . . for everybody. Contact a state university in your area and talk to the econ. profs.

    On the other hand, COVID is only going to affect the unvaccinated if they are exposed.

  10. “We need to vaccinate the unvaccinated so that we can protect the vaccinated.” Guess who said that gem.

    As brilliant as that statement is, what has convinced me that the government is my friend is that they pointed out that those who have contracted this bug are exempt from all vaccination mandates. I’m convinced they are on my side. I.e. “government of, by and for the people” is alive and well.

    Other important stats provided by the feds are these:

    1) How many non-vaxxed have caught the bug twice (or more).
    2) How many vaxxed have caught the bug after being vaxxed.
    3) How many vaxxed have suffered negative results from it including death.
    4) The numerical proof of the claim that even though you might catch the bug with the vaccine, it will certainly not be as bad as it might have been without it. The detailed documents from science confirm that controlled experiments were done that enabled them to make such a claim.
    5) How many folks have been vaccinated with Pfizer’s FDA approved version (Comirnaty) versus the non-approved version including the details on how Comirnaty was developed, how it is different from the original, and why another version came to be required.

  11. Assume a population of 1 million people.

    First case:
    No one gets vaccinated.
    Everyone eventually catches covid.

    Assuming 1% death rate, 10,000 people die.
    Assuming 30% long covid, 300,000 people will have to live the rest of their lives with adverse side effects of covid.

    Second case:
    Everyone gets vaccinated.

    Results: 10 or maybe a hundred people get severe side effects. Definition of severe side effects those that remain after 1 month. Maybe a couple of deaths.

    Now let’s assume that all these people catch covid after being vaccinated. Vaccines prevent death at about 90%. That’s 1/10 of people die compared to previous scenario. 1000 deaths. Very few long covid cases.

    You do the math.

    Above reasoning is validated from data concerning Greece. At the moment about 75% of people are vaccinated and 90% of people that die from covid in ICU are unvaccinated.

    Dr Clark, in the interest of free speech, I would appreciate that you would allow this comment to be posted.

    • Theo,

      1. The HB is no place for unfettered free speech. If you want that, get your own blog. This is a place for truth and reasoned discourse.

      2. The great problem is that we still don’t know the denominator, i.e., how many people have had Covid. The best evidence so far seems to suggest that one’s chances of dying of Covid are very small indeed.

      3. We do not have solid, reliable figures for adverse reactions. Hospitals et al are not reporting consistently. The VAERS report takes about 30 minutes to complete and nurses are either untrained or simply have no time to fill in/out a VAERS report.

      4. Because the establishment has given up on actual science and given themselves over to propaganda (“this brand-new, never before used technology is entirely, safe”) browbeating (“get the vax or you’re a bad person”), intimidation (“get the jab or lose your job”), we’re left to sort through pre-published scientific papers, anecdotal evidence, and scattered news reports.

      Certainly no one may reasonably assume that we have anything like a clear picture of what is actually happening on the ground and what the consequences of the vaccine actually are.

      I am glad that it is working for many and I hope it continues to work for many. I’m not telling anyone not to get vaccinated and I’m not condemning anyone who has been vaccinated. We all have to make difficult choices in a bewildering environment. I am asking for an honest and complete account of how complex the situation actually is.

    • It would really aid in the discussion if you guys would take the time to watch the Dr. Peter McCullough video I linked above and referenced in a second post. Yes, there is much conflicting information on the internet, but the data presented by the knowledgeable and talented doctor is hard to refute. People only disagree until they are equally informed. May God be glorified as we seek the truth together.

  12. Dr. Clark: I have been vaccinated and I do no regret it. I calculated given my age and health history, that it was in my best interest. However, I don’t care what others do and would not try to impose any obligation on them or try to bind their consciences from a moral standpoint. I intend to take all necessary measures to protect myself regardless of what others may do or not do. I intend to do what is prudent as the Lord gives me light but beyond that I place my temporal and eternal destiny in his hands. I can only take care of *my* business. Regarding Covid, I leave it to others to take care of their own business.

  13. Dr. Clark,

    Will you be addressing the vaccine mandate (articulated by politicians) for 5-12 year old children?

    Thank you

  14. Excellent article Dr. Scott, and I thank you for writing it. I certainly intend on sharing it as I believe others need to understand this very real aspect of the pandemic/vaccine. In reading the comments, I can certainly see by some of them that you article is very accurate. Also in reading the comments it seems people tend to lean to either “get the vaccine before you kill us all” or “I have the liberty, the freedom, to choose whether I want it or not.” Just as your article pointed out. But there is another position, one that is very rarely talked about, if at all. And that is the position of, “I cannot take the vaccine for medical reasons.” While I tend to side with those who believe it is up to the individual whether or not they take the vaccine, and would certainly not try to force it on anyone, I happen to fall in that third category. If I contract Covid, I will certainly die. There is really no question. I have enough co-morbidities that I would not survive it. At the same time, however, the vaccine is equally deadly for me, so when I see statements such as some that you linked to (If they don’t take the shot then refuse them all medical treatment and let them die types of comments) I find it extremely frustrating. On the one hand I am saddened by their ignorance, their lack of compassion, and their obvious lack of salvation; but, on the other hand I want to punch them in the nose for spouting off they way they do. My answer to the pandemic is to take appropriate precautions (wash, avoid crowds, wear a mask when necessary, etc) and trust the Lord. If I die, I go home. If I live, I can serve Him here longer. Either way its a win-win.

    • Bob, I have some great news for you, that should brighten your day. Even people with Comorbidities as you report usually survive Covid. Unfortunately it is impossible to give an exact percentage, but I have been working these nearly 2 years now in a busy ER where thousands of Covid patients have come through. Most survive, even with many comorbidities. One of the very biggest risk factors is obesity, and by your picture, you do not appear obese. Walking is probably one of the biggest things we can do to increase our chances of surviving. When they say that the percentage for dying goes way up with people in your condition, it goes way up from like 1/1000 to 1/100. that means you have a 10 fold increase chance of dying over the younger and healthier, but your chances are still 99 percent for recovery. If you listen to the right people, and have an open mind, you will see that these are reasonable estimates. Blessings

  15. David, very well said (you English is quite good). However, I must disagree with you on your stance regarding those who do not wish to get the vaccine. The “love for your neighbor” argument that keeps coming up, or the often used argument that people do not get vaccinated because “it is my right to infect people with a deadly virus” is not as good an argument as the folks making it like to believe. As for the latter, I have not heard of anyone actually making that argument, just people accusing them of it. These arguments make the fatal assumption that if you are not vaccinated, you WILL get COVID, and you WILL infect someone else, and they could die. Now, IF the vaccines actually prevented, or even greatly reduced the likelihood of transmitting the virus to others, these would be sound arguments. But they do NOT reduce the likelihood of someone getting or transmitting the virus to others. There is a difference between a good sounding argument, and an argument that sounds good.

  16. Dr. Scott. I have really appreciated your articles defending justification by faith alone. I just read one about Shepherd confusing faith alone as the ground of justification but not the instrumental cause. This will be helpful for my Sermon tomorrow on Galatians 3. I also serve as a Nurse at a busy local ER in the suburbs of Philly, with 25 years of experience in this field. I wholeheartedly agree with your recognition of this new “health administration” movement as a religious movement. The decrees have been so devoid of scientific evidence and there has been so much intentional blurring and obfuscating of true data, along with blatant lies regarding the efficacy of natural immunity, that it HAS to be seen as a false religious movement/ cult. Blessings and continued insight from above.

  17. Here is a recent Facebook post that I made about the now obvious deceit of the CDC. This is blatant and obvious lying.

    “I became aware of this article from a Johns Hopkin’s Dr., Marty Makary who recommended it on Twitter. So we have a John’s Hopkins Doctor and a Harvard Doctor both publicly exposing the CDC as liars.
    The article gets quite technical, but here is an important and understandable quote:
    “How effective is immunity after Covid recovery relative to vaccination? An Israeli study by Gazit et al. found that the vaccinated have a 27 times higher risk of symptomatic infection than the Covid recovered. At the same time, the vaccinated were nine times more likely to be hospitalized for Covid. In contrast, a CDC study by Bozio et al. claims that the Covid recovered are five times more likely to be hospitalized for Covid than the vaccinated. Both studies cannot be right. I have worked on vaccine epidemiology since I joined the Harvard faculty almost two decades ago as a biostatistician. I have never before seen such a large discrepancy between studies that are supposed to answer the same question. In this article, I carefully dissect both studies, describe how the analyses differ, and explain why the Israeli study is more reliable.“
    A Review and Autopsy of Two COVID Immunity Studies ⋆ Brownstone Institute

  18. Bob, I have some great news for you, that should brighten your day. Even people with Comorbidities as you report usually survive Covid. Unfortunately it is impossible to give an exact percentage, but I have been working these nearly 2 years now in a busy ER where thousands of Covid patients have come through. Most survive, even with many comorbidities. One of the very biggest risk factors is obesity, and by your picture, you do not appear obese. Walking is probably one of the biggest things we can do to increase our chances of surviving. When they say that the percentage for dying goes way up with people in your condition, it goes way up from like 1/1000 to 1/100. that means you have a 10 fold increase chance of dying over the younger and healthier, but your chances are still 99 percent for recovery. If you listen to the right people, and have an open mind, you will see that these are reasonable estimates. Blessings

  19. I have enjoyed reading through many of the comments on this post, and some of the articles/ tweets that Dr. Clark posted. One in particular link that fascinated me, was the one about the Physician’s assistant who was making reports about adverse reactions to VAERS, even for her coworkers, and then was discouraged from doing so. At a hospital in NY. First of all, I would like to give my testimony as an R.N. who has worked in acute care settings in hospitals for 25 years, the last 15 in emergency rooms, that the reporting of adverse reactions to medications, in general, is a broken and almost worthless system. Especially in busy situations, almost no one is going to take the time to fill out these reports to the FDA. Adverse reactions also may be difficult to pinpoint as coming from a particular drug or treatment. There may be other causes of the reaction that are, at least, plausible, and therefore serve as an excuse to to take the time to report. I did fill out a report in one instance where an 11 year old boy had a potentially lethal cardiac rhythm, ventricular tachycardia, and his only risk factor that we could identify, was that he took a stimulant/ amphetamine for his ADHD. There were a few other health care workers directly involved in the treatment of the boy, but it did not even occur to them to fill out a report. There is a lot of “covering” and unrecognized bias that is involved with psychiatric drugs though, so that adds another layer to the phenomenon of underreporting. It is fascinating though to see how long it takes for medication to be withdrawn from the market once they have been deemed unsafe. One author suggested that it is on average like 10-20 years. It was surprising to me to realize and read about the flimsy, haphazard system that is in place for the reporting of adverse events for drugs after they have been approved. It is actually left to the companies themselves to monitor and report adverse reactions, which is an obvious conflict of interest. Most people do not realize what an unsophisticated system is in place for this purpose.
    So, it is not surprising at all for me, and I am not aware of any of my co-workers filling out VAERS reports on ANY of the possible adverse reactions from the vaccine. I believe, as in the Ladies case in the link, that it would be generally discouraged, but that would depend on the political perspective of the workers and managers, some would probably approve of it as well. It is also though, a more complicated situation than was presented in the letter by the lawyers in that lady’s case. There could be a somewhat false impression left by those letters which reported that Physician Assistant’s situation. I thought that it was too matter of fact from her side about reporting adverse reactions from the vaccine. She may have been a zealot against the vaccine mandate, and therefore reporting illnesses after vaccination at too high of a rate. The problems that she had reported: blood clots, pneumonia, strokes, heart attacks, etc. are all problems that people come to the ER with all the time. With such a large part of the population being recently vaccinated, many of these events would not necessarily be from the vaccine. Her lawyers did acknowledge this at one point, where they said that she was not making the claim that the problems were necessarily from the vaccine, but that her job was just to report the possibility that they were. Hmm. It gets kind of grey in my mind, and seems like it might be unfair if someone searching for negative reactions was reporting everyone with an illness that had been vaccinated in the last 6 months. A trend might emerge from post vaccinated people, as myo/ pericarditis have. And strokes/ blood clots have emerged as real side effects from Covid, but how to know if it is an increase over the normal rate of such cases is a difficult matter. I have been looking for side effects of the vaccine, but not seen any that I am sure about in the thousands of vaccinated people that I have seen and been around. I am excluding the limited flu like symptoms that many have for a day or two after being vaccinated. I hope and pray that we do not see kids coming down with these side effects, and I believe that children are so resilient to Covid that it is foolish to vaccinate them if they are healthy. This goes for younger healthy adults as well in my opinion. As a final note, so you will know more about where I am coming from, I had Covid last November. I believe strongly in Natural Immunity. My Religious exemption was denied,(kind of funny since I am also a bivocational Pastor) so I am under the threat of losing my job for not being vaccinated even though I have better immunity than the vaccinated. We are so short though, and I am a value to the company, so they may try and delay for a while before firing me, and it may be deemed illegal before they do so. God bless, and thanks for reading if you made it this far.

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