Last updated on May 1st, 2021 at 11:10 am
In the post-COVID-19 world, freedom seems to be conditional on immunity from the virus. It has been discussed for months, but now a sort of “vaccine passport” is becoming a reality in different latitudes, including Italy. However, in Britain, where the vaccination campaign is proceeding apace, the terms of this tool, which has yet to be finalized, are being discussed.
In an open letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, more than 1,200 Christian church leaders called for the “vaccination passport” not to be introduced; calling it “a form of unethical coercion”. The clerics warn of the risk of creating “a two-tier society, a medical apartheid in which an underclass of people who refuse vaccination are excluded from significant areas of public life.” Not only that, they express “the legitimate fear” that the “vaccine passport” could set a precedent that will lead to the restriction of free movement to those who choose not to undergo other health treatments.
A surveillance state
“This scheme,” the Christian leaders note, “has the potential to bring about the end of liberal democracy as we know it and to create a surveillance state in which the government uses technology to control some aspect of citizens’ lives.” Religious people are therefore sure that this constitutes “one of the most dangerous policy proposals ever made in Britain’s political history”. Regarding this issue here in Italy, the Data Protection Authority has intervened, and in a statement published on March 1 it emphasized that an “incorrect treatment” of the vaccine passport can lead to the “illegitimate compression of constitutional freedoms”. Then, last Friday, the Data Protection Authority sent a letter to the government asking for clarity on six critical issues of the “green pass”.
Do not betray the Gospel
And it is a guaranteed freedom, at least in democratic countries, to profess one’s own religion. In their open letter, British Christian leaders say, “we do not foresee circumstances in which we could close our doors to those who do not have a ‘vaccination passport’, a negative swab test, or any other document pertaining to personal health.” They recall that if persons whom “the State considers undesirable” are excluded from the churches, this would constitute “anathema and a denial of the truth of the Gospel.” Moreover, they add, “the message we preach is offered by a God” who gives Himself freely and calls everyone to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore “to deny people entry to hear this message” would be “a betrayal of Christ and the Gospel.”
Curiously in Italy, where about five million people have been vaccinated, the so-called “green pass” is about to be approved. In Britain, where a larger portion of the population has been vaccinated (more than twice than in Italy), the debate is still ongoing. A cross-party front of at least 70 MPs opposing the “vaccination passport” has emerged in the London Parliament. “With high levels of vaccination protecting the vulnerable and making transmission less likely, we should aim to return to normal life, not put permanent restrictions in place,” scolded Conservative Graham Brady. I wonder if some of his colleagues here in Italy will decide to take a page from his book.