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Church applauded and rebuked after offering free salvation to vaccinated
CANBERRA, ACT – Health experts have backed a Canberra Anglican church’s offer of free salvation to vaccinated visitors, after high-ranking church officials told the church to pull the campaign.
St. Matthews Anglican Church ran the offer last week as a vaccination incentive, with parishioners offered “free eternal salvation for all those who have received both vaccine doses“.
But on Tuesday, Canberra Anglican Bishop Short Markson contacted the church and highlighted canonical restrictions which ban the offer of salvation as an incentive COVID-19 vaccinations.
“Salvation through Jesus Christ is offered to all, regardless of vaccination status,” Bishop Markson told the Damascus Dropbear.
“To somehow make it conditional, or imply that there is a salvation cost for those who are yet to get the jab or choose not to vaccinate, well I don’t know where to start with the theological problems.”
“People need to know that there is neither vaccinated nor non-vaccinated, masked nor unmasked, neither New South Welshman or Victorian, all are one in Christ Jesus.”
ACT Health officials have indicated their support for the move however, saying that anything that helps encourage vaccinations is a good thing.
The local Minister behind the campaign, Reverend Mark Streater, claimed that although he understood the concern and controversy, he still believed that there was merit in the message.
“We were just offering what we thought was a pretty unique promotion to encourage people to get salvation, especially in these uncertain times” he said.
“Of course I know salvation is free for all, but I figured that it may help some people get in the door and hear the message for the first time.”
“The fact is that when you start to offering any kind of free reward to the ‘proudly vaccinated’, they often come running.”
“It may even help vaccinated people realise where they can and can’t put their ultimate trust.”
It is further reported that the church were planning to offer free salvation to the ‘unvaccinated’ next week, but thought perhaps they might be helping people get to heaven too quickly with such a popular mass gathering amidst the current outbreak.