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NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins on COVID, Vaccines, and Getting Back to Church

“In terms of what churches can do again, I think in special circumstances, especially if your church can meet outside, well, take advantage of that because we know it’s safer. Otherwise, if there’s an absolutely critical need, keep that physical distance and insist that everybody wear masks.”

[This vaccine] is an answer to prayer, it seems to me ought to be embraced by believers. And yet there’s still a great deal of resistance, so unfortunate mixing of scientific information with conspiracies and sometimes politics, and it’s not a good mix.” 

“If Christ’s strongest recommendation to us is, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind,’ then we’re supposed to use our minds about this, and of course, the next commandment is, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ This is a love your neighbor circumstance, because if you are gathering in person, in a church, even being careful about it, there may be somebody sitting there who’s got an immune deficiency.” 

“Probably the most dangerous part of this is not what happens during the service, it’s what happens right afterwards. We’re all so glad to see each other. It’s like, ‘Oh, I haven’t had the chance to wrap my arms around this person, who’s my best friend, in months.’ And so pretty soon, your desire for human contact kind of overtakes your sense of what might be safe. And that’s where I think a lot of trouble can happen.” 

“There is a responsibility that all of us have, not just the people who decided to take action, but all of us.”

“You don’t get to the end of a pandemic when you have a significant number of people who are still able to catch it, spread it and incubate new mutations. If we could somehow figure out how to get the message across, and that includes a lot of people in churches who are still hesitant about taking these actions, then we might be able to send this thing packing.”

“I didn’t dream we’d be having this conversation in September of 2021. There’s no reason we should be here. If we’d been successful in convincing everybody that these incredibly safe and effective vaccines were answers to prayer that they would want to take, and we had ninety five percent of our population in that space, we’d be in a very different place. So if you want the future to be better, if you want people to be able to gather in churches, in other places, we’ve somehow got to get the full endorsement of everybody, including a lot of believers, that this is up to us. This is not one of those where you stand back and let somebody else take care of it.” 

“I’m increasingly needing to remember it’s better to listen than to lecture, to provide an opportunity for people who are troubled about the safety or the efficacy of vaccines to express their concerns.”

“Let’s remind ourselves, as evangelical Christians, we’re about truth. We’re not about distortions. We’re not about conspiracies. We’re not about lies. The truth will set us free and lies will imprison us.”

“I have all kinds of sympathy with people who have been brought into this place of fear and misunderstanding incoming information. I don’t have sympathy for the people who are spreading that disinformation when they know it’s not true. How could we, as believers, ever justify that?”

“Let me be clear, there is no current use of abortion material in preparing any of these vaccines because I think that’s gotten a little muddy out there. And some people think that’s part of the process of making these vaccines.”

“It does seem to me that if you look at the life of Jesus, which I wish we knew more about what we do know, a lot of it seemed to have been spent in healing. And I think we were supposed to notice that that is part of our charge, if we’re going to be followers, is to figure out ways also to use God-given skills to try to help people who are suffering.”