Christians of various denominations join the All Church Prayer for the Nation program at Christ Church in Guwahati, Assam, on April 6, 2019. (Photo supplied)
A Christian group in the northeastern Indian state of Nagaland has urged the faithful not to believe a claim by a healing ministry that the Covid-19 vaccine is against the will of God.
The Chakhesang Baptist Church Council (CBCC), an association of Baptist churches in the Christian-majority state, has warned people to ignore such claims.
In a press release issued on Jan. 17, the CBCC clarified that a prophecy made by the Eastern Zion Healing Ministry of Pfutsero claimed that the Covid-19 vaccine is “not the will of God.”
“Such false prophecies are contrary to the Bible and the Christian faith and believers should be careful about alleged divine revelations," its statement said.
Catholic Bishop James Thoppil of Kohima, the state capital, said Nagaland has several small sects over which Christian churches have no control.
"Most of these sects parted ways from the main churches for various reasons. They are free to give any statements which are not in line with mainline churches,” he said.
“There are many healing and prayer ministries here which claim they are the main church. They sometimes even argue that followers of the Catholic Church are fake Christians, but we don’t pay heed to their claim as it has no meaning.
“The Covid-19 vaccine is intended for all. Let’s not make it a religious issue. People are free to get vaccinated as they wish. The CBCC is an associate church of the Nagaland Baptist Church Council and we support its stand on the issue.”
The Nagaland Baptist Church Council is the top body of nearly 1,500 Baptist churches in Nagaland, where Christians form 90 percent of its population of 2 million. The majority of Christians are Baptists.
The circular issued by the Eastern Zion Healing Ministry said: “The newly launched Covid-19 mass vaccination is not the will of God, hence believers are asked not to take it. Those believers who take the Covid-19 vaccine will not be able to enter Christ's kingdom.”
The CBCC said the Covid-19 vaccine is God’s answer to prayers for the Almighty’s intervention and added that vaccination has nothing to do with salvation and does not have any biblical basis.
“Health is a fundamental right, hence it is the duty of the church to make sure that all should have the opportunity to live a healthier and fuller life,” said the CBCC, adding that a vaccine does not cancel the work of Christ Jesus.
The press release noted that a similar prophesy had been made in 2018 by the same group which claimed that the Aadhaar code and rubella vaccine were against the will of God.
The Aadhaar code is a 12-digit identification code issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India on behalf of the government. The number serves as proof of identity and address anywhere in India.
The CBCC said the church body in the state suspects that some vested interest groups may have been running a misinformation campaign to derail the fight against the pandemic.
Meanwhile, India's Covid-19 tally surpassed 10 million as of Jan. 18, with the death toll climbing to 152,593.