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Disinformation:

DISINFORMATION: The green certificate breaches fundamental rights and paves the way for an attack on the Church

Disinformation

An open letter has called on the Church to oppose the green certificate, because it allegedly violates fundamental rights and paves the way for an attack on the Church. The letter reiterates a number of false narratives used to disinform public opinion regarding COVID-19.

NEWS: Several publications have circulated an open letter calling on the Romanian Orthodox Church to take a stand against making the COVID green certificate mandatory:

“These days, the Romanian Parliament is debating the possibility of making the “green” certificate mandatory (the certificate requires citizens to provide proof of vaccination, that they’ve had the disease or, depending on which amendments will be voted, a negative test for COVID every two days) in workplaces. In other words, the right to work, a fundamental right whose revocation endangers the very right to life, will de facto depend on vaccination, whereas evidence people had the disease is accepted only in the short run and under specific circumstances. Additionally, testing entails procedures and costs that make it very hard to put in practice.

[…] 

Conversely, the restrictions, segregation and limitation of basic human rights seriously encroach upon people’s liberty, restrict their right to make free and informed choices and affect their dignity, by denying them the status of upstanding and law-abiding citizens. Besides, the law doesn’t allow people the right to say no by invoking personal or religious reasons. Many church-goers see vaccines currently used to prevent the disease as morally inadmissible, because in various stages of production, the vaccine uses abortion-derived cell tissue.  

[…]

We want to call attention to a possible misjudgment, namely that the Church will somehow be exempted from these restrictions. We recall that, by passing a simple decree, the interim government set the target of its national vaccination campaign at 90% of the general population. It is obvious that, with the new “green” certificate, this may very well mean the certificate will become a prerequisite for going to Church as well as for celebrating mass.

If the Church remains silent while its parishioners are denied their daily bread, how, then, will its reactions carry any legitimacy?”

Reality

NARRATIVES: 1. The right to work is conditional upon vaccination. 2. The green certificate will lead to segregation and the encroachment of fundamental rights. 3. The measures introduced to protect public health during the pandemic fall in line with the type of policies adopted “in the name of health” by the Nazi and communist totalitarian regimes, that resorted to eugenics, sterilization and experimenting on humans. 4. (implied) Vaccines are obtained from fetuses. 5. Making the green certificate mandatory is tantamount to attacking the Church.

BACKGROUND: The letter has been disseminated by several online publications used as platforms for spreading anti-restrictions and anti-vaccination rhetoric, as well as for promoting disinformation and conspiracy theories. The document was signed by “over 70 personalities of Romanian society”, including adepts of the anti-vaxx movement and coronasceptics, people who profess their devotion to the Church, representatives of the Conservative right, supporters and members of the Family Coalition. The letter also contains a number of false narratives that emerged over the years about COVID and the authorities’ efforts to combat the pandemic. The most recurring ones claim health safety policies based on recommendations issued by scientists are similar to policies that were based on toxic ideologies (Nazism, communism), despite the fact that there is no apparent connection between the two categories. This type of discourse also has Orwellian undertones, given that several signatories militated during the referendum campaign, for restricting the rights of the LGBTQI minority. 

The Romanian Orthodox Church, the addressee of the letter, has displayed an attitude that might at best be described as ambiguous regarding the measures introduced to combat the spread of the disease. The Church insisted that events such as pilgrimages, which were considered a risk due to the high number of participants, should be organized as planned, whereas part of the clergy vehemently criticized anti-pandemic regulations and vaccination. The Church refrained from supporting vaccination, and announced only at the end of the fourth wave that Patriarch Daniel Daniel has taken the anti-COVID shot. On the other hand, the Church has made it very clear, through the voice of its spokesman, Vasile Bănescu, as well as in messages conveyed by the Patriarch, that people must observe medical doctors’ recommendations (although in this case as well its reaction wasn’t swift), and dissociated itself from anti-vaxx instigations circulated by the archbishop of Tomis, Teodosie, who spearheaded the efforts of anti-vaccination and coronasceptics within the Church.

PURPOSE: Mobilizing the Church and the faithful against the adoption of the green certificate and vaccination.

WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: The draft law – which Parliament is reluctant to adopt – does not make vaccination mandatory. So, claiming the right to work is being encroached upon is false. People who do not want to receive the vaccine have other alternatives. Even if vaccination were mandatory for all citizens, with the exception of certain categories that are exempted from taking the vaccine due to their medical history, this still wouldn’t restrict any of their rights, just as the state doesn’t restrict the right to work as a driver, simply because it introduced a drivers’ license or regulations that ban the use of alcohol and substances while driving. The green certificate doesn’t take away people’s rights of meeting whoever they please, but it is simply limiting access to public spaces as a safety regulation. Therefore, this is not a matter of segregation. Health safety restrictions do not reflect ideologies, but draw on recommendations issued by the medical community. Ideology does intervene, however, in the discourse of anti-vaxxers and coronavirus sceptics, who don’t resort to scientific arguments when they criticize these policies. Moreover, the open letter itself confirms this ideological layer when it says that “many church-goers see vaccines currently used to prevent the disease as morally inadmissible, because in various stages of production, the vaccine uses abortion-derived cell tissue”. The choice of terminology is accurate, although it references a piece of fake news widely circulated by religious anti-vaxxers, who claim vaccines are developed with the use of cells obtained from aborted fetuses. This false narrative has been debunked several times (for instance, here and here): the vaccines themselves do not contain any fetal tissue. Certain cells are derived in the lab from the cells of fetuses that were aborted a few years before in order to develop vaccines (the scientific explanation is that these cells don’t carry other adenoviruses, which may be a possibility in the case of cells derived from adults or animals) or test their efficiency (such as RNA messenger vaccines). Even in the first case, any traces of cells derived from fetuses are filtered out during the purification process.

As regards the alleged attack on the Church, this is a new example of manipulation. Normally, regulations concerning public areas should be uniform, but some churches have been so far exempted from observing them. Even if the green certificate does become mandatory and will be imposed for attending mass, this is by no means a limitation of religious freedom, just as religious freedom is not limited by the fact that all fire safety regulations must be observed in church.

  • Publication / Media:
    R3media
  • Date of publication:
    22/11/2021
  • Amplification:
    ActiveNews, RGN Press, rețele de socializare
  • Key narrative:
    The green certificate breaches fundamental rights and paves the way for an attack on the Church
Cătălin Gomboș

25 Nov 2021
Cătălin Gomboș

14 minutes read
  • An open letter has called on the Church to oppose the green certificate, because it allegedly violates fundamental rights and paves the way for an attack on the Church. The letter reiterates a number of false narratives used to disinform public opinion regarding COVID-19.
  • NARRATIVES: 1. The right to work is conditional upon vaccination. 2. The green certificate will lead to segregation and the encroachment of fundamental rights. 3. The measures introduced to protect public health during the pandemic fall in line with the type of policies adopted “in the name of health” by the Nazi and communist totalitarian regimes, that resorted to eugenics, sterilization and experimenting on humans. 4. (implied) Vaccines are obtained from fetuses. 5. Making the green certificate mandatory is tantamount to attacking the Church.
  • PURPOSE: Mobilizing the Church and the faithful against the adoption of the green certificate and vaccination.
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