Thousands of church leaders in Australia signed a letter addressed to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, urging the government not to enforce vaccine passports in the country.
Morrison, who is a proponent of the passports, has refrained from mandating the measure on a federal level. Rather, businesses and state governments are responsible for implementing a system if they choose to do so, The Epoch Times reports.
The letter, titled "Declaration of Ezekiel," has gained support with nearly 3,000 church leaders and more than 14,000 churchgoers have signed it. That includes people from all over the country and belonging to different denominations.
The letter was written by three pastors affiliated with Baptist churches who made five arguments against mandating passports.
Concern over establishing a two-tiered society was the first issue, noting that "Free citizens should have the right of consent, especially when the vaccine rollout has been labeled as a 'clinical trial.' Imposing a 'vaccine passport' when the nation is already divided on the matter risks the creation of medical apartheid," the letter reads.
The next concern addressed the idea that enforcing vaccine passports will increase unnecessary stress among citizens who are already dealing with mental health crises from lockdowns.
Third was that the human conscience should not be coerced while the fourth pointed out that vaccines are not foolproof and should not be justification for a return to normal life. The final reason was that passports could result in church leaders having to deny the unvaccinated entry into a sanctuary.
In response to the letter, Martyn Iles, managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby, posted on his Facebook page, "The vaccine itself is not a major concern of mine, but coercion is a very, very serious misstep."
Peter Kurti, director at the Centre for Independent Studies, told The Epoch Times that he was worried about Australians choosing not to attend church because of the mandate.
"If places of worship were required to admit only those who had been vaccinated and could prove it with a passport, there might be an issue here. But that lies in the future and - as far as I can see - we have not got to that point yet," he said.
"Vaccine passports do not amount to a compulsion to get vaccinated, but they may add to the pressure to do so," Kurti added.
Meanwhile, PM Morrison is supporting the rights of business owners to forbid access to individuals who cannot prove they are vaccinated.
The National Cabinet, an intergovernmental body comprised of the prime minister, state and territory leaders, agreed on a four-stage vaccination plan this summer. The country is currently striving for the 70 percent mark or Phase B, resulting in fewer restrictions and removal of lockdowns.
After reaching 80 percent (Phase C), Australia will begin reopening international borders.
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