Christians in Italy react to mandatory workplace Covid-19 passports: “It is a very radical decision”
The Italian Evangelical Alliance expresses doubts about the “disproportionate restriction of fundamental freedoms”. Two pastors on the ground also express their doubts.
ROME · 21 SEPTEMBER 2021 · 09:00 CET
The implementation of a mandatory Covid-19 passport to access the workplace has opened a new ethical debate in Italy, the first European country to announce such a strong restriction.
After the 15th October, fines and even the suspension of work and salary can be applied to any worker who fails to demonstrate their vaccination against the Covid-19, a recent negative test or a recent recovery from the illness.
Has the government a right to restrict something as fundamental as the access to the workplace?
Evangelical Alliance: Covid-19 passport “conditions freedoms”
After the announcement, the Italian Evangelical Alliance analysed the implementation of the known as "Green pass" in a statement which starts underlying that “there is no doubt that, to date, vaccination is indicated by all national and supranational health institutions as the way out of the pandemic” and highlights “the value of science from a biblical and evangelical perspective”.
But the government is “gently making accination mandatory”, says the Evangelical Alliance, and turning the anti-Covid-19 certificate into “a key element” which “conditions freedoms”.
The AEI asks if it is not the case that “in shape and substance, the government’s action in our country risks embracing forms of political-health paternalism? (…) Authorities are at the service of citizens and, as such, they must safeguard the exercise of the citizen’s freedoms and responsibilities”.
In this context, the “latest measures may represent a disproportionate restriction of the fundamental rights of citizens”, says the AEI. “As evangelicals, we are convinced that defending individual freedom means respecting people's conscience and choices. We believe that blind and total trust in any kind of authority is always to be questioned”.
Both responsibility and a critical attitude are needed
On the other hand, the Evangelical Alliance “strongly urges all Christians to move away from the multiple conspiracy theories. The virus is real and the Covid-19 pandemic continues to have lethal consequences, as well as a devastating social and economic impact, especially for those in fragile situations and the poorest contexts”.
Evangelicals must “embrace the Christian perspective that shows us the need to pray for governments, have public authorities and government institutions in high regard, without ever assuming an idolatrous and unnecessarily uncritical attitude towards them”. Because “error and corruption are always around the corner”.
Read the full analysis of the AEI here (Italian).
“An unconstitutional measure”
Earlier, two evangelical pastors in Italy shared their views with Evangelical Focus.
Pablo Ruggieri, a pastor in Brescia said he will “only get the vaccine if it becomes compulsory”. He “respects and does not judge” his own friends who have opted for the inoculation, but he is clearly “against” the fact that the Italian government may “take away our rights on our body, our life, our personal elections”.
A majority in Italy may not agree with his view, admits Ruggieri, but he believes the vaccines are “an experiment on a world level” which has to do with “many interests, especially for the pharmacy industry”.
The imposition of a Covid-19 passport for all workers is “unconstitutional”, an “ideological measure” that aims “to get people vaccinated”. Meanwhile, “our rights as population are restricted, such as the freedom to work and freedom to move freely”.
Ruggieri hopes such a health certificate will not be needed to access worship places, but “the circle is being reduced in all public and private sectors of society”, he concludes.
“Forcing people” not the best option
Another evangelical pastor, Giancarlo Mazzillo in Vicenza, told Evangelical Focus that taking the vaccine is “a way of loving our neighbours, a way of helping the community”. For Mazzillo, the evidence is clear that “many people have died and many others are suffering psychologically, financially, familywise…”
But it is important that taking the vaccine is “something you chose to do”, because “forcing people” is a “very delicate issue”.
For him, “the decision of the government is very radical”. Although there are “many aspects who are obligatory in a state”, such controversial restrictions “would perhaps need a referendum”, he adds.