Some say the COVID-19 vaccine is the 'mark of the beast.' Is there a connection to the Bible?
The COVID-19 vaccine has been scientifically proven to save lives. But for a select group of people in the religious realm, a more important issue is at stake - eternal salvation.
As the Delta variant continues to spread, the rationale of many Americans opposing the COVID-19 vaccine has come to the fore. While the reasoning has varied - some cite uncertainty about long-term side effects or a lack of medical confidence - one theory that has roused some vaccine resistance is the idea that the shot is the "mark of the beast".
The "mark of the beast" in Revelation of the New Testament signals loyalty to Satan or to those who reject God's memory of creativity.
"Studies show that conflict between religion and science is not about facts, but more about values and morals," said John Evans, professor of sociology and religious studies at the University of California-San Diego.
What does the scripture “Sign of the Beast” say in Revelation?
The biblical apocalyptic term comes from Revelation 13: 16-18. According to the New International Version Bible, the apostle John speaks of an apocalyptic pair of animals that will rule the earth with cruelty. Its malevolent reach - which can be interpreted as covert manipulation - requires that all people who do trade bear the mark of the beast. The apostle John did not identify what the sign looked like, although some theologians translate the scriptures to associate the number "666" with it.
The King James version of Revelation 13: 16-18 reads: And he lets everyone, small and large, rich and poor, free and bound, have a mark in their right hand or on their forehead: And no one can buy with it or sell, except for the one who had the mark or name of the beast or the number of its name. Here is wisdom. Let the understanding count the number of the beast; for it is a man's number; and its number is six hundred and thirty-three and six.
Pastor Darin Wood of the First Baptist Church in the oil town of Midland, Texas, wrote a comment for the Midland Reporter Telegram in August saying, “One of my church families asked an honest question, 'Pastor, is the COVID vaccine the ? Mark of the beast? I've been told it is. ' Her question was an honest and heartfelt one, and obviously they were apprehensive about it. I answered "no" in a friendly manner and thought little about it. Until the question came up again. And again. And again.
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“There is no evidence that the vaccine matches the brand described by the apostle John. I have been sent numerous articles and videos ... indelibly identifying those foolish enough to receive the vaccine. It is just not reasonable or logical to assume that such a broad conspiracy is even possible. Then the question arises why this widespread distrust of medical treatment arose. "
Why do people call the COVID vaccine the "mark of the beast"?
Evans said a lack of trust in the government and the medical field is a driving force behind the "mark of the beast" belief.
"(Former President) Donald Trump took advantage of American populism and with that comes the disbelief of experts," Evans told USA TODAY. “There is a small group of people who believe in 'the mark of the beast' and I think what drives that thought process starts with various concerns about getting the coronavirus vaccine that are not specifically religious.
Evans said he suspected that the popularity of the "mark of the beast" was due to clinging to a social or political identity.
Peter Feaman, a senior official on the Republican National Committee in Florida, said last month that vaccines are "the mark of the beast" and akin to a "false god." In May, Feaman said of Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who encouraged vaccines in the state of Michigan, "The diabolical Michigan governor Whiter wants their citizens to have the Mark of the Beast to partake of society."
Evans said from his studies that the majority of Mark of the Beast believers appear to be both politically conservative and have a Protestant Christian background.
“People with spiritual beliefs that all things are influenced by religion are more likely to believe in 'Mark of the Beast' that is in every Christian's Bible, but people will focus on certain passages in the Bible to improve their belief system support, ”said Evans.
What do religious leaders say?
Harvest Christian Fellowship Pastor Greg Laurie said COVID-19 vaccines are not "the mark of the beast," but many Christians may believe that this is because the world is in the time that the Bible "the." last days ”.
“The Bible speaks of one who will be identified as an 'Antichrist' and he will require people to have a 'mark' that people receive to buy and sell,” Laurie USA told TODAY in an email.
"The COVID-19 vaccine - or any vaccines - have nothing to do with it."
Laurie, who was vaccinated, said the Mark was an oath of allegiance to the Antichrist and no one would unwittingly accept the Mark.
“Revelation 14 tells us that those who take the mark are doomed,” he said. "God will not condemn people if they unwittingly take something."
According to Laurie, misinterpretations of Revelation 13: 16-18 can come from social media, where people can post unreliable information.
"People read false comments and believe they are true," he said.
"Sometimes these statements are wrapped up to look like Bible prophecy, but they are wrong and misapplied because many people don't understand what the Bible actually says about these things."
What do nurses say? Do people actually cite this as a reason to avoid the shot?
Nicole Williams, a traveling intensive care nurse, said she heard the "mark of the beast" as a reason not to get vaccinated often.
"I get hesitant because it's new and we don't know the long-term effects, but calling it the 'Mark of the Beast' 'is crazy," Williams told USA TODAY.
Williams has worked as a nurse in hospitals in Texas, New York, California, and Hawaii for her three years.
She said the recent spike in COVID-19 cases has been "hell" in which many younger people have died. She said the vaccine is not a magic shot that cures everyone, but rather one of the many tools used to fight the virus.
"I understand that people want to get back to the way things were, but calling something you don't understand as a 'mark of the beast' is extreme and harmful," she said.
"I am exhausted and tired of seeing so many people die, but I will do my best to keep my patients alive."
On the contrary, Hennepin Healthcare's emergency doctor Stephen Smith told USA TODAY that he did not hear the "mark of the animal" as a reason not to be vaccinated, but rather some other outlandish reasons.
Smith said a woman brought her child to us with a fever and a cough, and he stated that the toddler could potentially have COVID-19. When asked the mother if she was vaccinated, Smith said her answer was, "Oh no, that makes you a zombie."
Other reasons Smith heard for not getting vaccinated are: They don't want to get a microchip, outside of their worldview, the vaccine was developed too quickly, haven't gotten sick yet, not high risk, they don't trust the government and read that people died from the vaccine.
"Social media plays a 100 percent role in the misunderstandings about the vaccine," said Smith. "They get all of their information from Facebook and get all this junk."
"Anyone who tells you not to get the vaccine is either lying to you or is an idiot or a combination of both."
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What do we know about the COVID-19 vaccines?
Peer-reviewed data has found Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID vaccines safe and showed 94 to 95% effectiveness against the virus, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The same journal published that the Johnson & Johnson single dose syringe protected against the virus and was effective against hospitalization and death.
On September 20, Pfizer BioNTech released data that its vaccine is safe for children ages 5-11. The company received its full approval stamp from the Food and Drug Administration late last month.
Moderna has started applying for a full license and Johnson & Johnson plans to apply later this year.
The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control reports that 54.7% of Americans are vaccinated and 63.9% have received at least one dose.
According to data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, 56% of people in the US should be fully vaccinated by the end of September and 59% by January 1, 2022.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID Vaccine The Mark of the Beast? What the Book of Revelation Says
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