At the Wednesday evening service this week, the pastor mentioned a magazine to those assembled, a magazine he had just read through — Frontline. This edition of the magazine was entitled “Biblical Counsel for Medical Choices.”
Boy did that sound interesting! I am a total nerd for Christian topics and a total nerd for science, so I could not wait to read through it.
I made it my bedtime reading and a third of the way through the magazine, I found a topic near and dear to my heart, one that I have helped thousands with as they sought to protect their families from the evils of the world: religious exemptions around the Covid shot.
The piece written by a Pastor from Michigan, Michael Riley, PhD, who also teaches at Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Minnesota unfortunately pitched a discredited ruse in an article Greta style: How dare you get a religious exemption based on fetal cell use if you don’t research and reject your aspirin on the same grounds!
Boy was that a disappointment to see, for he placed a red herring in there. Yes, the logic of what he was saying was true, but in its omission, in his disregard for what the next sentence could have been — it was a total lie. It was a total Big Pharma marketing department lie.
Until Wednesday, it had been quite some time since I had seen anyone credible peddle that lie.
I sent off the following letter to him and to his editor. Either are welcome to comment below. I probably will not publish their responses to me if sent by personal email. I tend to write-off unrepentant Christians who peddle lies. Some serious repentance is here needed. This isn’t the man on the street who wrote this article. The author has a PhD, is a seminary professor, and he is writing for a reputable magazine. There is little defense for why such nonsense was submitted (the fault of the writer) and little defense why it made it into print (the fault of the editor and those responsible for oversight in place around him). Shame on the author and shame on the editor for letting not just one, but both of the two points below slip into print.
Dear Kevin Schaal,
The piece by Pastor Michael P. Riley in the January/February 2023 edition unnecessarily pigeonholes Christians, confining them to a standard that is neither Christian nor legal. Federal law allows an exemption to virtually any policy based on “sincerely held beliefs.” This is often called “a religious exemption.”
Rather that researching this matter more thoroughly, Pastor Riley made this article part of the pro-vaccine propaganda that has been foisted on Christians.
It is inappropriate coming from a faith leader.
Pastor Riley argues — alongside the Pfizer marketing department and Biden-administration lawyers — that a Christian has no place opposing the shot due to fetal cell line use, because then that same Christian must reject all medicine developed using fetal cells.
I hope Pastor Riley does not preach such from his pulpit, as it distracts the discerning conscience, and overlooks the vital details relied on to determine truth from lies. Trusted voices must avoid such behavior, lest they foster distrust — especially clergy.
While this may be consistent thinking that Riley presents, it is also a red herring. “I have a sincerely held belief against taking this Covid shot” is going to be sufficient for a religious exemption in almost all situations and does not require getting into the statements made here by Riley. Riley’s statements unfortunately serve to pigeonhole Christians in a Catch-22 that need not exist. They also serve to normalize fetal cell use rather than to stand against it.
Furthermore, Riley cites the discredited 2021 article “If Any Drug Tested on HEK-293 Is Immoral, Goodbye Modern Medicine” by Father Matthew Schneider, relating to the fetal cell line HEK-293.
Riley goes so far as to do this without citing the significant rejection of that article by prominent Catholic leaders (a significant omission) and instead presents the article here as a laudable source, in fact borrowing heavily from it for more than half of his own article. Riley omits the author in that very same article calling for society to move entirely away from the use of fetal cell lines (a second significant omission by Riley).
Pastor Riley in the article that purports to be about Christian ethics around stem cell lines won’t even touch that basic topic of how to improve the present by calling for a better tomorrow. He merely says that his conscience is not troubled by this use of medicine developed using stem cells, which in itself is an embarrassingly inaccurate claim. Both clergymen (Schneider in the original and Riley in mimicry) appear to be misinformed as to how medical research works. Being ignorant on a topic is the proper time to be silent on a topic. It is not a time for being glib.
It cannot be for lack of space that this omission occurred because Riley spills ink repeating the same disinformation that Schieder does, no doubt for shock value — in listing common medicines purportedly developed using fetal cell lines, including hydroxychloroquine. It is not possible for many of these medicines to have been developed using fetal cell lines. Their development predates the existence of fetal cell lines for medical research.
Why would you possibly publish a piece in an esteemed publication like Frontline that not only rests so heavily on a discredited piece (discredited not last week, but since December 2021), and which also twists that piece into something it is not? Are higher standards not needed around a piece that serves to normalize evil?
Riley somehow cherry-picked the most degenerate and discoursing parts of the Schneider piece and left out somewhat positive moral foundation that undergirds Schneider’s piece. If this were not a field in which I am professionally comfortable, I would not be able to recognize what an awful thing this Riley did in penning this piece. Truly shameful.
Can you please find an author who can make a spirited stand against ALL aborted fetal cell use? Can we not be called on to re-envision medicine that does not build itself upon the foundation of aborted fetuses? If we Christians do not raise the standard for the world to rise to then who will?
And while you are at it, since you are running an edition of Frontline promoting pharmaceutical industry disinformation that pigeonholes Christians into complying with a medical experiment against their will, why not also run an issue helping your readers who wish to protect their families from a medical experiment against their will? That, after all, is what has taken place these last three years through the closing of churches, forced masking, and coerced vaccinations — a medical experiment, often conducted against one’s will.
I am disappointed by both the normalizing of fetal cell use in this article and the normalizing of poor legal theory that is unduly restrictive to Christians. Cui bono? Not mine. Not the Church’s. Not those seeking a moral compass around abortion-related science. Not those seeking an exemption, trying to protect themselves and their families from the evils of the world.
It is time to call on our pastors to atone for the sins of the last three years, not to normalize those sins. It is time to call on our pastors to demonstrate what they have learned in the last three years and to prove that those times will never again be cooperated with by the Church. And those who will not, need to lose their most ethical members as they move to churches run by pastors who have learned that they will never again be complicit in the evils of the last three years.
Dear Editor, dear Mr. Schaal, this article, Sir, by Pastor Riley, may have had a place in 2021, but it is so poorly researched for something published in January 2023, and, frankly, is tone-deaf to the moral realities that we presently face as followers of Jesus shining light as we walk through the world in this era.
Please do better.
Face Masks Hurt Kids,
Face Masks in One Lesson
Writing from the Frontline in San Francisco, California
The author sounds jabbed for even presenting such a discredited pharmaceutical industry talking point. The masthead of Frontline sound jabbed for letting him publish this without greater attention to what is normalized by the details of reusing that discredited talking point.
By the way, “He sounds Vaxxed” or “He sounds jabbed” is a colloquialism the cool kids are using these days to indicate mental inability while alluding to the unsafe nature of the shot.
Here are photos of the article if you want to read it, since it seems to be unavailable online.
If this topic of fetal cell lines and medicine is of special interest to you, I would like to strongly recommend the far better written and better argued piece by Schneider and the excellent rebuttal from Paul Casey, MD, writing for Catholic Family News.
This Riley piece is shameful amateur hour, and having been a writer for so long, something tells me Riley knows exactly what he did. You know as a writer when you make garbage, unless of course you are not used to being challenged. A trained theologian especially knows better than to write something like this, because he’s learned the humility that come from scholarship around theological ideas and their various credible arguments for and against. Such an education truly breeds humility.
And something tells me the editor knows the same — this article was of a glib tone while presenting the disingenuousness, which is pretty much what the definition of cynicism is. The only way he would miss it as an editor is if he, too, were not used to being challenged.
You do your heroes and cohorts no favor by refusing to challenge their shortcomings. You do them a favor when you require them to be diligent in their presentation. I don’t know what these two men were thinking in publishing this shoddy piece. Repentance and explanation are needed.
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I researched quite a bit about religious exemptions a while back. I even attended several sessions with Matt Staver and Liberty Counsel on the subject. It is technically against the law for an employer to deny any religious objection (or claim) of its employees, the problem with the situation is that it has become regular practice for such laws to be ignored and subsequently not upheld in (mostly liberal) courts in the USA.
So, the recommendation was to have a more comprehensive and broad claim in your religious exemption (as I have done). Think about the situation in totality. Think about how, even if there were no fetal cell lines involved, you'd be participating in the repression of countless people. You would be part of the destruction of families, homes, relationships, livelihoods, and the irreplaceable development of the lives of children.
Imagine Jesus standing in front of you and you explain yourself about how you were willing to go along with that.
The merger of government and corporate entities, aka fascism, isn't something with which Christians should knowingly and willingly participate or support in any way. The last 3 years are ample evidence.
It's one thing when you cannot avoid its influence. It's quite another to elect to participate or directly support it. Like I told a good friend of mine, we don't willingly participate and then pray for forgiveness as a "get out of jail card". Rather, if you tried every possible thing and resisted with all your might and then could not avoid it. That's when we pray for forgiveness and strength.
If you write a religious exemption claim, it should really stand on multiple points. The overriding of God's will, the destruction, the misery, defiling of God's temple, and, yes, fetal cell lines every other God-forsaken activity engaged by these evil entities are clearly unacceptable.
The claim that you didn't research aspirin is a distraction. You should not of had to research every thing in existence. But, now that we know the general practice of Big Pharma, I think Christians need to realize the extent of the evil within it. A "come to Jesus" moment, if you will.
Ultimately it's between the individual and God. But it's clearly only possible to fool one of those participants.
The pastor writes “good-bye modern medicine” forgetting or maybe not understanding that vaccines should not be considered modern medicine. They are well over 2 centuries old if we go back only to Jenner. Most vaccines have seen the their time in the spotlight and are not the medical marvel they’re so often praised as being. Seems our pastor suffers from some idol worship putting vaccines ahead of nature (God).