As the religious vaccine exemption for schools has begun to be removed, many have been asking: do Christian families have the right to have their children attend either public or private school if they choose not to vaccinate on religious grounds?
This paper poses a different question: does the Church Universal have the right to exclude children from Christian schools if a state does not recognize religious exemptions to mandated vaccines for school entry?
Can the Church obey the State and expel their students, or are they obligated by The Great Commission to preach the Gospel, and the teachings of Christ to disciple children who have not received one or more vaccines that the State has deemed mandatory?
question likely hinges on whether or not formal Christian education,
at its essence, is a part of the State educational system, or a part
of the Great Commission to be carried out by the Bride of
Are Christian Schools a discipleship ministry of the Church, or separate institutions from the Church?
Is Christian Education commissioned by the State or The Christ?
Usually vaccine choice rights are discussed in a legal framework. Does a religiously objecting unvaccinated child have a right to attend school despite state-mandated compulsory vaccination laws? This is a different conversation. If we are commanded to train up children and make disciples, do we cease doing that in any way if the State tells us that we can’t?
After all, the States of NY, CA, ME, MS, and WV now say we can’t.
Over the last five years the vaccine industry, lead by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has waged a campaign to remove religious vaccine exemption rights, issuing a statement this spring that such religious persecution is now their number one priority. Thus far they have achieved that end in five states: California, New York, Mississippi, West Virginia and Maine. In Maine the removal of the religious exemption not only applies to K-12, but daycare through college and all trade schools.
In all of these states this includes all private schools, which means all Christian schools.
It is the Stated intent of the AAP to remove the religious vaccine exemption from all states in the US.
This has caused great consternation for many believers, as, among the myriad of crimes and atrocities committed by the makers of the vaccines in question, several of the mandated vaccines, including the MMR, are made with aborted fetal cell lines and contain their remains.
For many pro-life Christians, this makes the usage of these products and the consideration of doing business with these companies a severe non-starter.
Because the religious vaccine exemption has been recognized for so long in 48 of the 50 states, the topics of the use of aborted fetal cell products, and of the criminal convictions of vaccine manufacturing corporations, have not become widespread discussion in the Church. Believers who knew of the horror and objected to any involvement with such products, usually just quietly opted out, using their religious exemption. This, however, has now changed with the new removal of exemption rights to school vaccine mandates being pushed by the vaccine industry in every state.
What the Church must now determine is whether or not their Christian education programs are a part of The Great Commission, and if so, decide if they can then biblically turn such students away if the State orders them to do so as a condition of licensure to operate.
To do so, we must look to Christ’s commandment for evangelism and discipleship, and biblical wisdom on disciplining children:
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
In the US, obedience to these commands comes in the form of teaching from the pulpit, Bible study, sunday school, vacation Bible school, retreats, camps, formal k-12 education, Christian colleges and university, and seminaries.
What the removal of religious exemption in state-mandated vaccine laws means is that participation in the abortion industry, and the injection of products containing aborted fetal cell line remains–including blood proteins and DNA–are now legal requirements in order to receive a formal Christian education in these five states.
Participation in the abortion industry, and injection of products containing aborted fetal cell line remains, including blood proteins and DNA, are now legal requirements to receive a formal Christian education in five states.
The pro-life church in America has taken the position that abortion is murder, and has been commanded in Ephesians 5 not to participate in unfruitful deeds of darkness.
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
But with this change in the law, churches that have Christian schools, while decrying the abortion industry, are coercing believers into doing business with the abortion industry by enforcing state vaccine mandates on its own brothers and sisters. If they do not participate in this unfruitful deed of darkness, church members face removal from some of its own church’s ministries.
These laws are employing the Church as a lever that forces Christians to buy and use aborted fetal cell products, and perpetuate the growth of the industry that they are praying for God to bring to an end. Aborted fetal cell lines like WI-38 used in the MMR, have a finite number of uses, and thus the purchase of vaccines made with them simply create demand for new aborted fetal cell line development. Many Christians grieving over the use of aborted baby parts in science are unknowingly driving the fetal body market.
These laws are employing the Church as a lever that forces Christians
to buy and use aborted fetal cell products
The new laws ending religious exemptions have now been implemented in four out of the five states for K-12. Maine’s law will be implemented in the fall of 2021, and includes barring the unvaccinated from colleges, universities, and trade schools. That means all Christian schools, including seminary.
Which brings us back to the question at hand. If formal Christian education exists to fulfill The Great Commission, can the Church biblically accept the limitations that the State puts on it, determining who it can and cannot disciple? Or even allow to become a pastor who disciples?
This also means if the AAP has their way, no pro-life believer who rejects vaccines using aborted fetal cells for production can attend medical or nursing schools. It strips away the small remnant of believers who can go into the medical field and is willing to practice biblical ethics in medicine.
It means that in less than a generation, academia becomes even more dramatically anti-God, as committed pro-life believers can no longer get past the front gates.
Is this a line that the State has overstepped its God-given jurisdiction, and which compels the Church to say no?
If the the State tells the Church to require its members to sin in order to function, has the State overstepped, and is the Church obligated under Matthew 28 to honor religious exemptions anyway?
If Christian education is commissioned by the Christ and not the State, and intrusion by the State requires the Church to bar any believing family from full membership and participation in the life of the local body, or the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic church,” that intrusion is to be rejected. 1 Corinthians 1:10 urges that all believers live in unity. “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.”
Does the Church have the right or authority to keep a child from Christian education because his family refuses to participate in what they know to be sin, especially since they have been given the command from Jesus to make disciples and nurture their children in wisdom in the way they should go?
Christ makes no caveat on physical qualifications for discipleship, nor should the Church allow the State to impose any in order to avoid persecution by the State.
One church in New York, while processing what to do in September when the new law went into effect, was faced with losing about a quarter of the students in its school. They consulted with a Christian attorney who advised that they expel the children from the Christian school, as failure to comply with the new state law could result in a fine of more than twenty five thousand dollars, and the removal of the school’s license to operate.
What the attorney may not have understood is that, while giving sound business advice, he was essentially recommending that the local church persecute its own members so the Church would not be persecuted by the State of New York.
His advice seems anti-biblical. It tells a local church body to allow themselves to be used as a pawn to force pro-life believers into doing what they firmly believe is sin. We know that James 4:17 teaches us, “Whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” We also know, then, that if a church acts on the advice of this lawyer, it will require its own members to sin in order to be full participants in the life of that body.
The questions that flow from this position are myriad.
Thus far, no church or religious educational institution has challenged their state in the order to expel students whose families refuse to do business with the abortion industry.
While families fight for their right to religious schooling, religious schools have not stepped into the fight to keep their students, or protect them from forced association with the abortion industry.
Even as Christian lawyers are successfully defending the religious freedom of Christians business owners to abstain from parts of Obamacare that require them to do business with the abortion industry, the Church and its legal representation have sat by in silence and failed to defend the rights of Christian mothers to abstain from doing business with the abortion industry.
Thus, the precedent will be set; the line will been drawn in the sand: the State can now control the behavior of the Church here in America, and the Church will not object. If the Church continues to allow the State to determine whom it may not disciple in obeying the commands of Christ, what other unbiblical behavior will it seek to impose on the Church?
Can the State require children to be barred from other ministries like vacation bible school, Sunday school, retreats or worship services? Why can the same child be allowed in the building to spend time with the same children on Sunday morning, but not Monday morning? If the State forces The Body to bar him from the latter in the name of “public health,” do they have the grounds to force The Body to bar him for the former?
Because of the Maine law applying to all adult education, including seminary, what other adult mandates can they force on The Body to which one can claim no religious exemption?
Can it mandate that a local church participate in sin to keep their doors open simply for services?
These questions make it clear that this discussion is not just for local bodies that currently have formal schools, but all local bodies, and the Church universal.
Can the State mandate that the Church require its believers to participate in spiritually objectionable new or emerging industries and interventions yet unknown? If it can mandate that pro-life Christians inject aborted fetal remains in order to fully participate in not only civil society, but full church membership, what can’t the State impose upon The Body of Christ?
If the State tells a local body that they can disciple John and Susie, but not Jimmy, is that church obligated to tell the State that they will continue to disciple Jimmy and suffer the persecution that the State imposes on them for following the command of The Christ to, “suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not,” and to obey His command to disciple Jimmy and bring him up in the way he should go?
Should the Church be fighting in court for its right to operate in the State’s education systems while retaining its First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion?
If not, or if the courts deny that right, is it the obligation of the Church to simply conduct formal Christian education and discipleship independent from any licensing, blessing, or oversight from the State, just as they do every Sunday morning?
And should any such decision be made on fiscal grounds, or should the Church make these choices on biblical grounds regardless of the financial obstacles?
the Church obey The Christ or the State?
If a church obeys the State’s laws to force believers into sin in order to fully participate in discipleship, is it the Church any more?
One may take the position that the Church, or a local church body, is a distinct and different institution than a Christian school, even more so if the school in question is not part of a denomination or a local body. In such a case a similar line of questioning is appropriate for the board of directors or overseers of the school to consider, and an entirely new discussion on the nature of Christian education may emerge.
If schools do believe they are distinct from the Church, how does their mandate differ from The Great Commission? Must they respect the consciences of their attendees, and if not, how do they justify turning believing families away?
And finally, will the Church allow itself to face persecution by The World? Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s work set the 20th century standards for calling out the evils of an encroaching State, and his example has been preached in pulpits from California to Maine for more than half a century. Will the Church follow his path, which it has held out as the most honorable illustration of speaking truth boldly in obedience to God in the face of persecution during the modern era? Or will the Church simply join in the worldly persecution of children and families who refuse to participate in the abortion industry?
One group of churches has issued a statement on vaccines that should likely be the beginning of the discussion inside the Church on where the boundaries are between the Church and the State on the issue of mandated vaccines. The Fellowship of Christian Reconstructionist Churches (FCRC) is a new affiliation of Reformed churches which holds the position that:
“A biblically faithful view of the civil sphere as well as the ecclesiastical sphere provides no jurisdiction for civil magistrates or ecclesiastical authorities to mandate or in any way coerce parents to inject vaccines, or any other substance into their children. Any civil or ecclesiastical authority who attempts to mandate that parents vaccinate their children, whether through any form of public banishment, fine, imprisonment or other forms of coercion are acting tyrannically and are in grievous sin. Any attempt to impede fellowship in the body for the unvaccinated by a believer is divisiveness and, unless repented of, is grounds for excommunication. We affirm that quarantine of the sick is a biblical and wise practice and that it is sinful to knowingly expose others to what is known to be a contagious disease. We deny that the unvaccinated can be assumed to carry diseases for which they have not been vaccinated.”