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Three religious leaders who have lost all morality

By Peter Bowden - posted Tuesday, 1 September 2020

The three religious leaders who have condemned the vaccine for the Covid -19 - Catholic Archbishop Anthony Fisher, Anglican Archbishop Dr Glenn Davies and Greek Orthodox Archbishop Makarios – even having written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison - are obviously ignorant of the teachings of Jesus Christ, or of a dozen of the world's moral thinkers over the last 3000 years. And they have placed religious beliefs ahead of long-established moral practices. Have they not read the Parable of the Good Samaritan? Help those who need help. Or the Proverbs of Solomon three thousand years ago ?Proverbs 3: 27 Never walk away from someone who deserves help.

I have provided search engine links so that they may look upthe teaching of their own religions.

They may be forgiven for ignoring the teaching of the Asian philosophies, but their beliefs, Buddhism, The Jains, Hinduism, give the same message as did Jesus Christ. The current Dalai Lama sets out the same injunction as Solomon so many centuries earlier: "Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them". In the Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain philosophies, this concept is that of Ahimsa: "Respect for All Living Things and Avoidance of Violence Towards Others". Such respect and non-violence, as we are all aware, is "at the core of Mahatma Gandhi's political thought".


This moral precept is also the core of several modern moral philosophers. Beauchamp and Childress's Principles of Biomedical Ethics, William Frankena's Ethics, Bernard Gert's Common Morality along with John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism.

Then, at its most basic, helping others, preventing harm, is the overriding moral belief that should drive our approach to the Corona Virus pandemic. And adopting a vaccine is one way to achieve that objective. Now the three senior religious figures object because the vaccine comes from aborted foetus cells. Their objection appears to be to abortions, an objection which is relatively easy to negate. The objection is, as best I understand it, based on the killing of the foetus, and as we were created by God and are made in his image, so we are killing God.

The Vatican itself has in the past released statements permitting the use of vaccines drawn from foetal cell lines if no alternatives are available.

If we ignore the Old Testament as a reason for not killing, and look for a non-religious analysis, killing another person is still wrong. It is wrong because of the sadness, even pain, that we cause close relatives, and also that we destroy the victim's expectations of life. But is killing a foetus wrong?

A foetus has no expectation of life (it does not even have a fully formed brain) and that the closest relative is the mother, the person making the decision, we must conclude that abortion is not morally wrong.

This issue is also related to stem cell research.The process of isolating human embryonic stem cells has been controversial, because it typically results in the destruction of the embryo. US President George W Bush signed an executive order banning the use of federal funding for any cell lines other than those in existence, stating: "My position on these issues is shaped by deeply held beliefs," … "I also believe human life is a sacred gift from our creator." This ban was largely revoked by Barack Obama, who stated : "As a person of faith, I believe we are called to care for each other and work to ease human suffering. I believe we have been given the capacity and will to pursue this research and the humanity and conscience to do so responsibly."


Then why did these religious leaders condemn this vaccine? And would likely condemn stem cell research?

An answer on why is difficult to reach. Is it that religious people believe that their views are the correct ones, and that we all must follow them?

Is it a sense of power on the part of religious people, including their leaders, that they believe we must obey them?

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About the Author

Peter Bowden is an author, researcher and ethicist. He was formerly Coordinator of the MBA Program at Monash University and Professor of Administrative Studies at Manchester University. He is currently a member of the Australian Business Ethics Network , working on business, institutional, and personal ethics.

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