New York Gov. Kathy Hochul used a Brooklyn-based evangelical megachurch, the Christian Cultural Center, as her bully pulpit on Sunday.
Hochul called upon vaccinated congregants to be her “apostles” to promote New York’s vaccine mandate agenda because their unvaccinated brothers and sisters “aren’t listening to God and what God wants.”
Speaking of the vaccines, the state’s first female governor said that God had answered prayer about the pandemic. “He made the smartest men and women, the scientists, the doctors, the researchers — he made them come up with a vaccine. That is from God to us, and we must say, ‘Thank you, God.'”
The Democratic governor made the remarks at the Christian Cultural Center’s Sunday morning services one day before New York’s vaccine mandate for health care workers went into effect on Sept. 27.
“I need you to be my apostles,” Hochul told the congregation. “Jesus taught us to love one another. And how do you show that love but to care about each other enough to say, ‘Please get the vaccine because I love you and I want you to live.'”
On Aug. 16, then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the New York Department of Health regulation mandating all health care workers in the state receive their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 27 – with “limited exceptions for those with religious or medical reasons” — or risk termination.
On Aug. 26, just days after Hochul was sworn in as New York’s first female governor, New York’s Public Health and Health Planning Council approved an emergency regulation completely removing the religious exemption but leaving the medical exemption in place.
This sparked a group of anonymous health care workers, represented by the Thomas More Society, to file a lawsuit on Sept. 13 against the state, arguing that their constitutional rights were violated when the state issued a vaccination mandate with “no exemption for sincere religious beliefs.”
The next day, Judge David Hurd of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York temporarily blocked the mandate for those seeking religious exemption. This pushed back the requirement at least another two weeks until Oct. 12 when the judge will decide “whether to make the preliminary injunction more permanent,” the New York Post reported.
According to the lawsuit, all 17 plaintiffs conscientiously objected on religious grounds to the COVID-19 vaccines because “they all employ fetal cell lines derived from procured abortion in testing, development or production of the vaccines.”
The National Center for Biotechnology Information, a research and resource arm within the National Institutes of Health, acknowledged in a recent paper that the top religious opposition to receiving COVID-19 vaccines stems from the fetal cell lines linked to abortion that were used during the testing, development or production of the vaccines.
The particular cells in question are the HEK 293 kidney cells that came from an elective abortion performed in 1972 in the Netherlands, according to NCBI.
National Review reported that no HEK 293 kidney cells actually exist in either the Pfizer or the Moderna vaccines; they were “only involved in the ‘post-production’ process of the ‘final vaccine product’: that is, they are not part of the vaccine but rather were test subjects used to help determine how effective it was.”
However, other vaccines such as the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines did use fetal cells in the actual production process, according to National Review.
Despite what NCBI calls an “ethical vaccine research and policy” controversy, Hochul, who comes from “a big Irish Catholic family” and is a pro-abortion advocate endorsed by Planned Parenthood, told The Associated Press that she’s “not aware of any major religious group” that prohibits its followers from getting the jab.
“Everyone from the Pope on down is encouraging people to get vaccinated,” she said.
Indeed, the nonprofit Ad Council recently produced a pubic service video promoting vaccines in which Pope Francis said, “Getting the vaccines that are authorized by the respective authorities is an act of love.”
The pope has made several other announcements via social media to promote COVID-19 vaccines, saying that they promote “the common good and caring for each other, especially the most vulnerable.”
Vaccination is a simple way of promoting the common good and caring for each other, especially the most vulnerable. https://t.co/j9prRxvpoi
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) August 18, 2021
This view is not limited to leaders within the Catholic faith. In March, evangelist Franklin Graham told ABC News, “I think if there were vaccines available in the time of Christ, Jesus would have made reference to them and used them.”
Not long after, Graham composed a lengthy Facebook post supportive of the COVID-19 vaccines, which resulted in an outcry of dissent among those of his followers who oppose the vaccines on religious grounds.
Keeping in line with these pro-vaccination views from many prominent Christian leaders, the Rev. A.R. Bernard, the senior pastor of the Christian Cultural Center who founded the church in 1978, invited Hochul to speak at his church on Sunday, introducing her to his 37,000-member congregation as “a person of faith.”
According to The Christian Post, Bernard went on to tell his flock that when he first met Hochul while she was running for lieutenant governor of New York, “it struck me that she was a person of faith. Really liked her spirit.”
Hochul addressed the church attendees — both live and online — for several minutes, ending her speech with the pledge to “use the inspiration of God in my life and fight for you every single day as your governor and beyond” without quoting a single verse of Scripture.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.