Since early 2020, the majority of religious leaders around the world have supported lockdowns, mask mandates, vaccination passports, and other coercive measures that violated the freedom, prosperity, and well-being of millions of citizens. As just one prominent example, in August of 2021 Pope Francis and other bishops praised the new Covid vaccine as “safe and effective.” Vatican City pressured all of its employees to get injected or face unpaid leave from work.
With growing evidence of vaccines causing myocarditis in young males, and other harms to men and women of all ages, there is backtracking towards the old refrain that “We did the best we could, based on what we knew at the time.”
Drs. Yehoshua Socol, Moshe Yanovskiy, and Yair Shaki of the Jerusalem College of Technology are asking uncomfortable questions about what was actually known “at the time” in March of 2020. They provide a “Judeo-Christian Analysis of the COVID-19 Crisis and Its Management” in the Journal of Sociology and Theory of Religion.
In March of 2020, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu described Covid as “the biggest crisis since the Middle Ages.” Full of fear, he and other politicians were ignoring the already available data from the quarantined cruise boat Diamond Princess. On that ship, Covid’s case fatality rate was below 0.4 percent in healthy non-geriatric adults and about 1 percent in the elderly aged 70 and above. A serious problem, yes, but not “the biggest crisis since the Middle Ages.”
In fact, in early 2020 the evidence was readily available to show that Covid was less severe than the Asian Flu of 1957-58, less severe than the Hong Kong Flu of 1968-69, and far less severe than the Spanish Flu of 1918-19 to which Covid was repeatedly compared. Further, unlike these three prior global flu outbreaks, Covid did not harm children.
It was known in early 2020 that cancelling hundreds of thousands of surgeries, cancer screenings, and other diagnostic procedures would inflict massive harm (including death) on large numbers of people. It was known in early 2020 that lockdowns were inflicting severe economic hardships on the underprivileged souls who did not belong to the laptop class (lawyers, accountants, academics) or to the privileged public sector class of politicians, police, teachers, and government employees. Everyone could see that lockdowns destroyed jobs, damaged mental health, and drove more people to overdose on drugs.
It was known in early 2020 that the emergency preparedness plans of Italy (2006), Israel (2007), the US (2009), the UK (2011) and the World Health Organization (2019) did not recommend lockdowns. But governments around the world ignored their own crisis management plans and instead closed schools and workplaces, drove businesses into bankruptcy, prohibited sporting, recreational and cultural activities, restricted travel, cancelled medical and dental visits, imposed curfews and face masks, and subjected law-abiding citizens to ongoing surveillance.
It was known in early 2020 that the alleged “success” of lockdowns in China could not be verified. Yet most religious leaders promoted this brand-new experiment of society-wide lockdowns as being somehow “scientific” and “evidence-based,” even though they were not supported by any comprehensive historical data.
By early 2020, Dr. Neil Ferguson’s fearmongering about 510,000 people dying of Covid in the UK plus 2,200,000 Covid deaths in the U.S. had been completely discredited. Yet most priests and rabbis joined politicians and media in continuing to foster fear and promote panic during the next 30-plus months. Most religious leaders continue to condone the governments’ ongoing refusal to conduct a serious cost-benefit analysis of lockdowns.
From the very beginning, the pandemic response could hardly have been considered rational, by religious leaders or by anyone else.
Drs. Socol, Yanovskiy, and Shaki argue that the Judeo-Christian ethic prohibits killing some people in order to save others. So, even if lockdowns actually saved lives (a proposition for which, to date, no credible evidence has been put forward) this does not justify the suffering and death that lockdowns inflicted on people. The end does not justify the means, as the old saying goes.
The authors conclude that priests and rabbis could have obtained reliable information from credible sources, at the relevant time in March of 2020, rather than supporting harmful restrictions on the rights and freedoms of citizens.
John Carpay, B.A., LL.B. is President of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (jccf.ca), which has challenged lockdowns, vaccine passports and travel restrictions in the court of law and the court of public opinion.