IN MY ORBIT: Faith Leaders Who Pushed COVID Policies and Vaccines Should Be the First Ones Held Accountable

J. Scott Applewhite

Father, forgive them—because they knew exactly what they were doing. The rest of us are having a hard time, though.

The Branch Covidians maligned, blocked, and accused those of us questioning the trustworthiness of the COVID vaccines, the effectiveness of the mandates, and the common sense behind the policies of being grandma killers, conspiracy theorists, and science deniers. Those same people are now saying we just need to put it all behind us and forget about it.

This Atlantic writer is actually asking for a “pandemic amnesty.”

Moving on is crucial now, because the pandemic created many problems that we still need to solve.

Derp. My colleague Jeff Charles lights her up. So glad he did, as I don’t have the energy. I’m all for the Airplane! method of sitting the Covidiots down and giving them all a good slap.

That’s just for starters.

What these people fail to understand is that forgiveness and reconciliation are two different things. At this point, there’s not a whole lot of goodwill toward either solution. It’s certainly not going to happen without accountability on their part. Reconciliation acknowledges a wrong and the severe damage done, and looks toward restitution in order to restore the prior partnership or to work toward creating a new one. These people want absolution without acknowledging the great harm and damage done by these two years of draconian policies and control mechanisms run amok.

So we’re clear: Accountability before absolution. I feel that this should be advocated even more for the COVID vaccine peddlers that were recruited from the faith community.

I wrote back in December 2020 about how Dr. Francis Collins, now retired Director of the NIH, was recruiting faith leaders to encourage their congregants to take the COVID vaccines.

NIH Director Francis Collins is doing full-court press these days in preparation of the vaccine distribution in the United States. The Washington Post, NPR, and other legacy media outlets are slathering over this political appointee as the perfect oracle to convince people of faith that the vaccine is safe and should be taken.

“One of the few high-profile Obama appointees to continue serving in President Trump’s administration, Collins carries a certain kind of authority to address people of faith, many of whom are skeptical of scientific evidence for such things as evolution.”

A legacy media and Democrat administrations that have never liked people of faith and did everything they could to destroy their ability to gather together for worship and unity, suddenly were in paroxysms over a so-called scientist who also claimed to be a person of faith being the point man to those dumb Christians in order to set them on the right path.

The faith leaders who fell in line were quite happy to peddle the propaganda. Ed Stetzer was chief among them. Stetzer is the dean of Wheaton College, and in September 2021, he interviewed Collins on his “Church Leadership” podcast to guilt Christians into taking the COVID vaccine and to avoid trafficking in misinformation that encouraged otherwise. <insert *eyeroll* emoji>

During their discussion, Collins and Stetzer were hardly shy about the fact that they were asking ministers to act as the administration’s go-between with their congregants. “I want to exhort pastors once again to try to use your credibility with your flock to put forward the public health measures that we know can work,” Collins said. Stetzer replied that he sometimes hears from ministers who don’t feel comfortable preaching about COVID vaccines, and he advises them, in those cases, to simply promote the jab through social media.

“I just tell them, when you get vaccinated, post a picture and say, ‘So thankful I was able to get vaccinated,’” Stetzer said. “People need to see that it is the reasonable view.”

Their conversation also turned to the subject of masking children at school, with Collins noting that Christians, in particular, have been resistant to it. His view was firm—kids should be masked if they want to be in the classroom. To do anything else is to turn schools into super spreaders. Stetzer offered no pushback or follow-up questions based on views from other medical experts. He simply agreed.

The most crucial question Stetzer never asked Collins however, was why convincing church members to get vaccinated or disseminating certain administration talking points should be the business of pastors at all.


Stetzer’s efforts to help further the NIH’s preferred coronavirus narratives went beyond simply giving Collins a softball venue to rally pastors to his cause. He ended the podcast by announcing that the Billy Graham Center would be formally partnering with the Biden administration. Together with the NIH and the CDC it would launch a website,, to provide clergy COVID resources they could then convey to their congregations.

Stetzer was not only a convenient oracle and disseminator of the party line, but he did what many of our former friends, crazed family members, co-workers, and media did: called his fellow Christians foolish conspiracy theorists for not putting their full faith in the government’s pandemic response and the untested vaccines it was peddling.

Stetzer publicly called out California pastors John MacArthur of Grace Community and Che Ahn of Harvest Rock and deemed them dangerous for opposing the government and opening their doors when Governor Gavin Newsom dictated that churches could not gather in person. Stetzer also had choice words for Nashville’s Global Vision Bible Church pastor Greg Locke and worship leader Sean Feucht:

But here is the reality: Locke and Feucht are sideshows in the midst of a global pandemic and a time of Christian service and mission. Hungry for media attention and skilled at getting the headlines, both have given many non-Christians another reason to reject Christianity.

When I call them sideshows, I mean only that they distract attention. Just as drivers are compelled to stop and look at a car wreck along the road, we can’t help but watch their antics. But to faithful Christians discouraged by their platforms and to onlooking media, let me again say: This is only a distraction.

Stetzer wasn’t the only one. Famous mega-pastors Tim Keller, Rick Warren, head of Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) Russell Moore, and others abandoned the true faith to jump aboard the religious fervor of COVID adherence. As a believer, it was sickening to see.

Now that many of the COVID policies have been proven to be useless, the efficacy of the vaccines lacking, and the dangers of the vaccines more than self-evident, not much has been heard from these faith leaders concerning the daily confirmation that we were right and they were wrong. There is an interview floating around somewhere that claims, “Ed Stetzer is Sorry for How He Handled Church Shutdowns and-MacArthur, But Not Really…” but the two links that appear in the search, one from YouTube, the other from Spotify Anchor both come of empty.

Typical. I know this term has been overused these past few years, but it is downright Orwellian.

So, if we’re going to start with accountability, these evangelical leaders need to be where we start.


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