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Covid Theology in the Australian Church


From March 30, 2020, to March 28, 2021, the Australian Christian Church made a fortune from Covid Hysteria and laughed all the way to the bank. Along the way, the Church conceived Covid Theology to cover the greed. How much do you need to buy a pulpit? The answer is not much. About $500 per week. 

While the Church kowtows to the state, the Bible talks a lot about freedom. Jesus once said, ‘So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.’ That seems unambiguous. That sums up Christianity. Most churches taught the opposite during martial law in Australia (March 2020 to April 2022). Priests, ministers, and pastors preached vaccine mandates, vaccine passports, and loyalty to the state to ‘keep people safe.’ The minority who refused to obey were condemned as fascists, enemies of God, and worse of all, ‘anti-vaxxers.’ Most churches sung from the same hymn: ‘Follow the science.’ This is a serious problem for a faith that relies on the supernatural.  

In August 2021, a few thousand Australian rebel ministers and pastors protested Covid Hysteria. Politicians and bureaucrats ignored them, but the wealthy denominations that have made a fortune from tax exemptions were highly critical of this sudden and surprising burst of genuine Christianity. 

For the Christian who bothers to read his Bible, forms of civil disobedience, prayer, and encouragement are among the appropriate options in the face of relentless, institutional evil, such as the policies of Covid Hysteria. It is impossible to be a Christian and let the government decide who has the right to hear the good news about God.

By closing the church door to the unvaccinated, many were embracing a malicious apostasy that we have not seen since Franco. From July 2021 to mid-2022, vaccine passports were used in churches loyal to the state. What it meant was someone could go to church with the flu, hepatitis, syphilis, herpes, and early onset of Ebola, if they had their Covid Vaccination Certificate.

Australian churches were enticed to behave corruptly. To sweeten the deal, thousands of religious practitioners during the lockdowns received financial rewards from the state. It was the largest transfer of direct funds to the church in Australian history. 

The Christian Church is one of the most corrupt institutions in the West. It has been bathing its emaciated body in the oils of tax exemptions and special treatment for over a century, and as a result is drowning in scandals, corruption, child abuse, and nepotism. Churches are not charities but service providers and even the Bible says in Romans 13, verses 6 and 7 that churches must pay tax to the government. Churches ignore these verses because they get in the way of easy money. However, a market-based, free society has the tax office, the law, and competitive pressures to all but eradicate the diseases that plague the modern church. The churches support the state in Australia because the state pays them to stay open. 

To achieve this goal, Christian fascists invented some infamous covid slogans: 

‘God wants you to get vaccinated.’ 

‘God wants us to love others and the proof of this is our vaccination.’ 

‘Christians must obey the government in everything, so get vaccinated.’ 

‘Christians who do not take the vaccine are not following Christ.’ 

‘Getting vaccinated is proof you love others.’ 

What was going on? The churches usually hate each other and have spent centuries killing each other. Covid Hysteria remarkably brought most of these ancient enemies together. It was not God, the gospel, the resurrection, or even Jesus, but it was the chance to be close to the state. The Western church is in deep trouble, and it needs friends to prop up its dying institution. 

Church support for Covid Hysteria is not surprising. The church always says nothing when it needs to say something. Almost every single time the church had the chance to stand up for freedom, it didn’t. It never does. The Western church has always been on the side of power, and they are silent, unless their wealth is threatened, or they see the opportunity to extend their power. Jesus said that his kingdom is not of this world, but the teachings, work, and identity of Jesus Christ are a direct threat to propertied and monied religion, especially what he says about individual, personal freedom.  

In Australia in 2023, churches are crawling out of the spiritual sewer, pretending that the last three years never happened. Many still proudly wear their ‘Covid Safe’ badges hoping that this signals loyalty with favors to come. They want us to forget their actions, so they can sit back and count their money. They now say, ‘We didn’t have a choice, we might have been fined or sent to prison.’ Jesus was crucified for challenging political power. They now say, ‘But we didn’t know.’ They knew. 

I started Freedom Matters Today in September 2021 in the middle of the second lockdown in Sydney. It was, like all lockdowns, a waste of time, and it failed, like all lockdowns to stop the spread of Covid. During the lockdown, churches told us that freedom was defined as something that needed to be taken away for our collective benefit. I was told that my freedom was irrelevant.

I was told that my freedom depended on the decisions and wisdom of people in power. I was told that my freedom had nothing to do with my faith in God and his Son Jesus Christ. Like many people, I was mocked, insulted, demonized, and patronized. I was told by many church leaders that any talk of freedom was unchristian. I was told that any talk of freedom was the adoption of foreign, American values, proof that I had been indoctrinated by American right-wing thinking. Church leaders repeatedly said that only fascists believe in freedom. 

The mechanics of ecclesiastical apostasy in Covid Hysteria are opaque. We know that public health experts and others crept into the church in early 2020, and church leaders were taught the ‘secrets’ about Covid. These ‘secrets’ have all been discredited now, as you know, but church leaders love to be groomed by the state and state functionaries. It gives them a sense of self-importance and the chance to ignore ordinary people. 

We were told to denounce freedom and submit to people in power because they had been ordained by God, and by obeying them, we were obeying God. This is Covid Theology. I was told that the Bible teaches our absolute submission to the state. We must obey the state because any opposition is opposing God who appointed our political leaders. I was told that the heart of my faith was not to be found in the freedom of Christ, but in obedience to people in power whom God had decided would make decisions on my behalf. My role was to sit down, shut up, and do as I was told. 

The logic of Covid Theology was ridiculous and has some perverse implications. First, the Protestant Reformation, according to Covid Theology, was a sin against God because it involved overthrowing the legitimate political authority God had ordained. That authority was Rome and the Holy Roman Empire. Remember Luther who said: ‘Here I stand; I can do no other!’ He was wrong apparently. He should have just obeyed God-ordained authority.  

Second, according to Covid Theology, America has a problem. It was conceived in sin. The American War of Independence was a seditious rebellion and was therefore a sin against God since the colonies rebelled against God’s ordained authority, namely Britain. The Civil War, according to Covid Theology, was also a terrible sin. The South should have simply obeyed the President. According to Covid Theology, the Civil Rights movement was a sin because it involved active opposition to God-ordained legislation, even if it discriminated, excluded, and ostracized African Americans. 

Covid Theology, based on misinterpretations of Romans 13: 1-2, is complete rubbish but the Australian churches needed to justify their complicity and corruption. The problem with the Christian Church in Australia is that honesty has never been its strong point. They have a history of complicity, cooperation, and collusion in most of the horrors of Australian history from genocide to the abuse of children. Many churches in Covid Hysteria betrayed Christ who touched the lepers, healed the sick, and visited the dying. 

Why did the churches give up on God and embrace the state during Covid Hysteria? They didn’t. They never left the state. The current taxation arrangements are the source of their unaccountable, untraceable, and illegitimate wealth. Churches have built a kingdom on earth and hope Jesus will not return. Christianity is just the wallpaper hiding the gold and silver. 

The churches also betrayed the victims of child sexual abuse. The argument the churches made before the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (2013-17) was that churches could not be sued because priests, ministers, and pastors were not legally employed by the church. They were not employees but were self-employed. This employment rule could never be changed. It was non-negotiable.    

Covid Hysteria changed everything. The churches demanded and were given a change in employment status in May 2020. This non-negotiable position evaporated. Church leaders suddenly became employees so they could get AU$1,500 a fortnight under the infamous ‘Job Keeper’ scheme. No church was in extraordinary financial difficulty. Most have adopted versions of direct debit. Throughout the pandemic, churches demanded that the offertories remain full to the brim. Few have disclosed the amounts they received. The moral of the story is that the financial well-being of priests, pastors, and ministers, is more important than compensation to the victims of child abuse. 

During Covid Hysteria, churches took a generous slice of the AU$89 billion slush fund of Job Keeper, receiving the largest handout in Australian history. While millions suffered under Covid Hysteria, the pandemic brought wealth back to a dying church. Coincidentally, it was also a time when the church ceased to comment on Covid public policy except to praise the government. Post-pandemic, the churches got away with it, and are returning to ‘business as usual,’ a religious life shaped by a panoply of tax exemptions. 

However, church charities are not permitted to dispense medical advice or drugs, only religious instruction. Churches that dispensed medical advice and advised on vaccines and lockdowns violated the charity laws and should have their licenses revoked. Furthermore, we now know that priests, ministers, and pastors are not self-employed, but employees, which means churches can be sued.

If you want Covid justice, listen to the sermons of your local minister or priest, and then call the charities commission. Listen to those who were given unqualified advice by their local minister and support them. The future of the Australian church will be played out in the law courts with the suffering of the vaccine-injured and abused. Bankrupt and empty, we will witness the rise of a new church eager to do whatever the state wants, for the right price.

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  • Michael J. Sutton

    The Rev. Dr. Michael J. Sutton has been a political economist, a professor, a priest, a pastor, and now a publisher. He is the CEO of Freedom Matters Today, looking at freedom from a Christian perspective. This article is edited from his November 2022 book: Freedom from Fascism, A Christian Response to Mass Formation Psychosis, available through Amazon.

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