Pastor Keith Marshall, a pastor at Hope Lutheran Church in Enumclaw, Washington wrote a column for the EnumclawCourier Herald, a small local paper.
The pastor then shared a screenshot of his Courier Herald column on his Facebook page where it went viral.
A Christian man who has dedicated his life to his faith, Reverend Marshall wanted to address Christians who seek religious exemptions for public health protocols during a global pandemic.
Turning to his Bible and his years of education and experience, Marshall looked for Biblical justification for anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers who demand religious exemptions.
Marshall, who lives in Enumclaw, Washington with his wife Elisha and their children, found his interpretation of what the Bible grants him agency to do was different than those who said they refused pandemic because of their faith.
"What does your faith exempt you from?"
"Religious Exemption is a term I have heard more in the past three months than the rest of my life combined! Recently I was asked if Christians should be able to claim Religious Exemption when public health is in jeopardy."
"Their question made me ask myself, 'What does faith in Jesus Christ exempt me from?'"
"Below is a partial list of what came to mind. My faith in Jesus Christ exempts me from:"
"- Putting my wants above the needs of others"
"'Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.' - Philippians 2:3, 4"
"- Claiming my freedom in Christ as liberty to act without responsibility."
"'You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge in the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: Love your neighbor as yourself.' - Galatians 3, 13, 14"
"- Refusing to protect the most vulnerable in our midst."
"'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.' - Matthew 25:40"
"Therefore, my 'Religious Exemption' requires that I receive the COVID vaccine to safeguard life and wear a mask to care for my neighbor."
"Claiming the Christian faith is no jurisdiction to refuse these measures. By invoking the name of Jesus to claim exemption, you are using the Lord's name in vain and therefore sinning."
"Now, you may have your own political or personal reasons not to do so, but please, stop claiming your faith in Jesus Christ as justification."
His words of wisdom quickly spread across social media.
Pastor Marshall originally shared his column as a public post on Facebook, but was forced to take it private.
The pastor wrote:
"Well...it has been quite the day. A post I thought we go around my small Facebook world has literally gone around the world."
"While I still stand by what I wrote, I have made it private."
"I know that it is out in the world, which I can handle. However, I am beginning to receive attacks and slander on my family."
"My heart is broken with nasty things written."
"I want to thank so many for the outpouring of love and support today. You mean the world to me."
"For those who disagree with me and really want to talk, I can always find time for civil discourse with you."
Messaging on the vaccine has been mixed from the Lutheran church. Most pastors in the clergy advocate vaccination and masking.
Hopefully Pastor Marshall's wise words will inspire others.