Recently, someone wrote to me responding to some of the points made in my videos (on Sacred Musings). In particular, the point was made that it could potentially be damaging to my Christian witness and the mission of the church. I thought it was appropriate to write a letter in response, and I thought it would be good to publish here in edited form as an open letter about why I have spoken out (and continue to speak out) against lockdowns and the things I generally try to deal with in my videos.
I begin by outlining why it is that I came to my position on lockdown, then explore the Christian angle of what’s happening before dealing more specifically with the question of damaging the church’s mission.
Why I came to my position on lockdowns
As, I expect, happened to all of us, in March 2020 I was caught completely by surprise. I didn’t know what to make of the lockdowns. It ‘felt’ wrong to me, and it certainly struck me that people’s attitude to death was unhealthy, but I had plenty of other things to occupy me e.g. learning to do online services, coping with having my daughter at home, and generally surviving! Plus I thought it would be over in three weeks, so I didn’t really give much thought to it.
However, as the lockdown went on, I began to ‘smell a rat’ and sought for answers. One of the good things about the internet is the ability to find alternative perspectives which you can’t always find in the mainstream media, so I began reading Toby Young’s Lockdown Sceptics website (now renamed Daily Sceptic), as well as lots of other online publications who published a range of views which differed from the official UK Government position.
One of the things which was immediately apparent is that there were people with far more knowledge than myself (people with relevant credentials in medicine, for example) who were concerned about the lockdowns in all sorts of ways – not just in terms of public health but other things such as civil rights and the way parliament introduced the measures without scrutiny. The reason I had to turn to the internet to counterbalance the opinions of those on the mainstream news channels was simply because these people – despite being eminently qualified and respectable doctors, clinicians, academics, etc – were being ignored.
As I read, I found myself with more and more serious problems with the official position:
- Why was our response to covid so drastically different to any other pandemic, even those within living memory?
- Why had the government pursued the strategy as outlined in the 2011 Influenza Pandemic Preparedness plan right up until March 2020, and then ditched it? What was wrong with the old plan? Why was it done without historical precedent and sound scientific basis?
- Why did most Western governments copy the Chinese Communist Party, who are not known for having a good track record on human rights – and, indeed, telling the truth? (e.g. we now know there were hundreds of thousands of Chinese-controlled bots on Twitter who bombarded UK politicians with pro-lockdown messages, and much of the data that came out of China in the early days is highly questionable)
Not only did I begin to realise that many highly-respected scientists, doctors and medical professionals disagreed with the lockdown policy, but almost everything that the Government and the Media take as fact is – at the very least – open to alternative explanations.
- Why were PCR tests being used to diagnose asymptomatic ‘cases’ when they had never been used that way before? How do you tell the difference between a ‘case’ and a false positive test result?
- Why were we defining an asymptomatic individual as a ‘case’ anyway, when prior to 2020 we would have simply called them a healthy person?
- Why did the government not distinguish between a death ‘of’ and ‘with’ covid?
- Why was so much of the response to covid based on inaccurate modelling rather than real-world data?
- Why did the government initially say face masks were not worth wearing, then only change once the pandemic had died down? Was there really strong new evidence, or were they actually being used as a psychological ‘nudge’?
- Why did no-one care about the intentional elevation of fear (see Laura Dodsworth’s excellent book A State of Fear)?
- Why did the government messaging assume that everyone was equally vulnerable when it was clear from the early days of the pandemic that it mainly affected the elderly and people with serious underlying health conditions (e.g. average age of covid death = 80.3)
- Why was the government focussing on community transmission when it seems like the bulk of covid transmission and deaths happened in care homes and hospitals?
- Why did no-one seem to notice that every year prior to 2008 had a worse mortality rate than 2020? (Age-standardised mortality of 2020: 1043.5 deaths per 100,000 population; 2008 was 1091.9)
- Why did no-one seem to care about building up our immune systems – e.g. it is well-known that people who are stressed get worse colds?
- Why does the government / media seem singularly uninterested in determining if lockdowns are effective? Why has no cost-benefit analysis been published?
- Why is it that the only question the opposition / mainstream media have asked over the last 18 months has been “Why didn’t you lock down sooner / longer / harder”?
I could go on and on and on here. It seems to me that virtually nothing of what we have been told over the last 18 months is the unvarnished truth, or is open to alternative perspectives.
To give two examples out of thousands that could be included:
- Norman Fenton, Professor of Risk Information Management at Queen Mary University London, said in an interview that we can know virtually nothing for sure about covid because of the way the statistics have been managed and mismanaged.
- Jay Battacharya, one of the co-authors of the Great Barrington Declaration, said in a recent interview that the lockdowns protected the most well-off while throwing the working-class under a bus. For example, why were healthy 25-year-olds with white collar jobs able to stay home, while 60-year-old delivery drivers were classed as ‘key workers’ and had to be out working?
(I think there are also serious problems within government and more generally within the field of science – just this week a journalist for the Daily Mail wrote about a plague of fake medical trials, and a whisteblower has raised concerns about the Pfizer vaccine trials.)
In short, EVERY aspect of our response to covid has been questioned by people who are considered experts in the field – and yet you would never believe this from what you hear reported on the mainstream media.
At the same time… I began to realise that, not only were there immense problems with the lockdowns, but the lockdowns were in turn causing immense damage. Here are just a few of the recent headlines from the Collateral Global website:
- Lockdowns left 12,000 women with undiagnosed breast cancer
- GPs miss more than half of ‘red flag’ cancer symptoms – due to pressure not to refer because of limited resources
- “45 million African children were dealing with wasting before the pandemic, but another 9 million have been affected due to COVID, Nanama says.”
- 1 in 5 Australians report high levels of mental distress
- Eating disorders: The terrible impact of the pandemic on the young
- 23 million children [worldwide] missed out on basic childhood vaccines through routine health services in 2020, the highest number since 2009 and 3.7 million more than in 2019
- CDC Reports 51% Increase in Suicide Attempts Among Teenage Girls
- About 400 secondary pupils waiting for counselling (in Northern Ireland)
- Covid pandemic has pushed poor countries to record debt levels – World Bank
- A backlog of more than 1,100 crown court cases due to the pandemic is seeing “life put on hold and lives ruined” the West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) has warned.
- Pandemic pain: Young people experiencing greater mental health distress and job losses during Covid-19
- More than 25,000 tonnes of Covid-related PPE and plastic waste has already entered Earth’s oceans and almost 75% of it is likely to wash up on beaches by the end of the year, new model shows
And you could go on and on – NHS waiting lists, mental health services, children with anxiety, more children than ever on antidepressants, etc. This, of course, does not even begin to look at the ethical problems with lockdowns as I have been talking about in my videos (e.g. Why Lockdowns are Immoral part one and part two).
I do appreciate that some of this could be ascribed to covid – i.e. it’s because of the pandemic. It’s certainly true that you can’t just go through a pandemic without negative consequences. However, I think we would have done far better overall (looking at the total picture) by carrying on with the previous plan rather than imposing a lockdown. School closures had a terrible impact on children, for example, yet we know now it was almost entirely unnecessary.
In addition, there’s a difference between someone dying of a heart attack because the hospital is full of covid patients, vs someone dying of a heart attack at home because they are too terrified of covid to call an ambulance (or because all the wards have been cleared because of the expected wave of covid patients who never arrive).
It seems to me the effect of lockdown has been absolutely devastating in every single area. It’s almost impossible to comprehend how much damage it has done, and I suspect we won’t see the full extent of it for a generation – when the children who missed nearly two years of school reach maturity.
I appreciate that some people see all these things as tragic but necessary consequences to keep covid contained. I have argued that lockdowns were immoral even if that were the case; however as the bad news keeps mounting up it’s increasingly difficult to say it’s better than if we had just stuck with the plan from prior to March 2020. In particular, I think the example of Sweden is hugely important – I’m sure in subsequent years they will be publicly vindicated once the cost of lockdown becomes more apparent. (See for example Anders Tegnell – Sweden won the argument on covid, and another article How Sweden swerved covid disaster).
A note on vaccines
I think it’s important to devote a whole section to the vaccines, because I have serious and growing concerns about what is happening.
- Places which have high rates of vaccination also tend to have high rates of covid. For example, County Waterford in Ireland has the highest vaccine uptake in Ireland, but has the highest rate of infection in the country.
- The UKHSA data has been consistently showing for some time a higher rate of infection (per 100,000) in the vaccinated. There has been a lot of debate about whether this shows the vaccines are ineffective or not – a lot of it is to do with getting accurate numbers of unvaccinated people. However, even if the figures are somewhat inaccurate, they do not demonstrate the vaccines are in any way protective against infection.
- There are possible reasons why this might be the case, including a theory about “Original Antigenic Sin”, which seriously needs to be investigated – if it is the case, the vaccines might actually cripple the body’s natural immune system response against covid.
- I have also been growing increasingly worried about the “Very rare” side effects – e.g. a German newspaper recently compiled a list of 75 elite athletes who have died in the last 5 months after being fully vaccinated (commonly, events such as cardiac arrest or heart attack).
- There’s a website which is dedicated to stories of people who have been injured by the vaccine, for example this one: “Six and a half months later, these symptoms (and more) are still here, with some days “only” difficult and other days extremely painful. The pain interferes with sleep, and I find it hard to stay active at all. My right leg is weaker than my left leg. I have dizziness, tinnitus, and neuropathy in my hands and feet. I’ve lost a lot of weight … I am losing hope of a medical cure.” Recently I read another story of a 22 year old man who now has myocarditis.
- There has been a 47% rise in all-cause deaths among teenagers between the ages of 15-19 since the vaccine rollout started in this age group.
- There are also ethical problems with the use of cell lines used in the development of some of the vaccines from aborted foetuses.
- It’s important to say that many doctors and academics have started raising serious questions about the vaccine, including Peter Doshi (editor of the BMJ – British Medical Journal) and Tess Lawrie, founder of Evidence-Based Medicine Consultancy Ltd.
- Additionally – why is everyone asked to have the vaccine, despite it now being well-established that natural immunity is at least as good if not better than vaccine induced immunity?
I also wanted to briefly mention one thing, which I have heard described as ‘covid theatre’: this is the ongoing attempt by organisations to help people feel safe by introducing measures which have the appearance of safety but actually do little to help stop the spread of covid. Examples include one-way systems, maintaining social distancing, face coverings, etc.
I am very concerned, as Dr Gary Sidley (a retired NHS consultant clinical psychologist) wrote about masks, that these safety behaviours will become entrenched because people do not feel safe without them. Regardless of the evidence as to how effective they are! For example, does putting chairs 1m apart in a big church really help with covid? Is there any evidence that the main way covid spreads is between people close together? Or is there any evidence that it’s safer to sit in the same room slightly further apart? Most of the evidence (such as it is) for social distancing concerns larger droplets, but we now know that covid is airborne and can transmit via aerosol. This spreads in the air. So I fear that spacing the chairs out gives the illusion of security but not much else. Staying 1-2m away from healthy people religiously starts to look like a superstition rather than a sensible precaution.
This covid theatre seems to me to be playing into people’s fears, rather than trying to allay them. If we did this in other areas it would be about confirm someone’s delusional beliefs rather than trying to help them to live in line with the truth. You could liken it to giving an anorexic liposuction rather than trying to help them overcome their anorexia. If the covid theatre is not helping with covid but only making people “feel” safer, then it is going along with a falsehood and should therefore be rejected.
I am not trying to deny the severity of covid for a small minority of people (mainly elderly and with co-morbidities). I am also not saying we should have done nothing, nor denying that the NHS was under huge pressure last winter. I’m not trying to say the existence of alternative viewpoints means they are necessarily correct. However, I think we have to honestly entertain the possibility: what if all the measures that were introduced actually served to make things worse?
Since March 2020, many scientific studies have been conducted to determine whether lockdowns work. A summary of 35 studies by the AIER shows that scientists struggle to find any obvious way that lockdowns actually move the needle when it comes to mortality. Plus the example of Sweden (as mentioned above) should put the lie to the idea that lockdowns were necessary to keep covid contained.
While lockdowns do little to contain covid, they have had a humongous damaging effect on just about every area of life: health – mental and physical; children’s development; the economy; democracy and freedom; impact on the developing world, and so on. When all is said and done I believe it will be seen that everything the government did to contain covid actually made things worse by an order of magnitude.
Additionally, I believe there are serious issues with the vaccine which need to be investigated. I think real problems are being swept under the carpet, while people are continually coerced and browbeaten into taking the vaccine. The vaccine is being treated as some kind of Messiah, which is most certainly not the case. While I agree that it does seem to protect against serious illness and death (although there are serious questions to be answered about this), it could potentially cause more infections, and it has side effects which are worryingly common in younger people – especially males. (There are also worrying problems with women and menstruation / fertility). It should be left up to everyone’s own conscience to take the vaccine or not, as long as they are given accurate information.
The reason I wanted to start this way is simply this: I hope it is possible to see that I am trying to seek out what is caring and compassionate for everyone. I genuinely want to do what is best for all, and I want to explore what that might be freely. I have no interest in pursuing a political line, but simply pursuing the truth.
I appreciate that I haven’t been able to back up everything I say with links and data – there is simply far too much. I would recommend spending some time getting to grips with some of these:
People’s Lockdown Inquiry – https://peopleslockdowninquiry.co.uk/ (published June 2021) – includes a downloadable PDF. Has input from many people from a wide range of disciplines about many of the things I have mentioned, but in much more detail. Has also been rigorously fact-checked.
Evidence not Fear – https://evidencenotfear.com/ – a look at a wide range of evidence on all aspects of the covid lockdowns.
HART Group (Health Advisory Recovery Team) – https://www.hartgroup.org/ – a group of medical and academic experts with an alternative perspective on lockdowns.
Collateral Global – https://collateralglobal.org/ – dedicated to the collateral damage caused by lockdowns.
On the vaccines, I would suggest watching Dr Peter McCullough (a very senior and highly-qualified doctor). – if you would prefer, it has been written up in five parts on TCW Defending Freedom (link to the first part).
The Christian Angle
Let’s consider the Christian angle(s) on all this. I’ll start by asking the question: why is it that people think anti-lockdown views are ‘beyond the pale’? I would suggest two reasons: (1) it disagrees with the mainstream view (the consensus); (2) it suggests that many of our trusted institutions are wrong and maybe even lying to us – which seems very ‘conspiracy theorist’.
On the first point, I have already tried to explain that the people I have been listening to are not some random blogger or YouTuber with no medical qualifications, but people who are highly qualified and experts in the field. It is true that they do not get much, if any, airtime on mainstream media channels – but this is not because of their lack of experience or qualifications but because of their message.
On the second point, I have always been reluctant to think so ill of the government and other trusted institutions. I have never believed in any ‘conspiracy theories’! However, I have come to believe that there is something going on whether it is conscious or not. ‘Groupthink’ is a real phenomenon, and I believe that many of our political and media class are suffering from it. It seems like almost every issue today is politicised into the ‘in-group’ and ‘out-group’.
I don’t think that the government is necessarily being intentionally manipulative or deceptive (although perhaps some individual politicians are taking advantage). However, I do believe that as Christians we should have our eyes open to what is happening.
What I simply can’t understand is why many in the church can see so many of the problems with the State and the media (deeply secular and hostile to Christianity, and cheerleading gender transition and same-sex marriage for example), while at the same time think that they are largely trustworthy when it comes to other matters such as public health. The Christian Institute, for example, have done so much good work when it comes to defending Christianity in the public square, and yet have been almost silent when it has come to the lockdowns and State overreach.
I think the behaviour of the State and media should not surprise us. As Christians we believe:
- All people are sinful and flawed. This means that no human being should be given our complete trust or complete power – which is the Christian idea behind our democracy (politicians should be held to account). In other words, we should never be surprised when politicians, governments, or the media behave badly;
- The nations do “conspire” against the Lord’s anointed (Psalm 2) – consciously or unconsciously. This includes a rebellion against truth, because God cannot lie – Satan is the Father of lies. This leads onto the third point:
- The Bible leads us to expect some kind of delusion in the world which leads many away from the truth.
I think this passage from 2 Thessalonians is very appropriate for our times:
For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendour of his coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.
I find this a fascinating passage. Satan works consistently through the ages – that’s what we’ve seen through the last 2000 years. As the passage says, lies are “in accordance with how Satan works”. God’s response is that he “sends them a powerful delusion”. (You can see this elsewhere e.g. Revelation talks about the beast and deception). I believe we could well be living in such a moment.
It strikes me that everything about covid is so ‘religious’. There are priests (“scientists”), secret knowledge (“the science”), rituals (social distancing, masks), heretics (anyone who questions publicly), a saviour (the vaccine), and so on. People have been more interested in political point scoring than finding out the truth. Fact-checkers have been checking the consensus rather than the actual evidence. And it goes on and on. Rev Dr Joe Boot (who runs something called the Ezra Institute) has written an excellent article for Christian Concern about the way covid has been handled in a very ‘religious’ way. As he puts it:
Too often we overlook the reality that we are in a spiritual struggle, a cosmic conflict for cultural formation in terms of the kingdom of God against the kingdom of darkness – and have been since Cain slew Abel. Any believer who thinks Satan and his hoard sit on the sidelines of history during times of panic, disease, and political upheaval need to familiarise themselves with their Bible.
This is why I started by saying that I think churches which enforce the whole covid narrative are actually doing a disservice to the gospel: although there are elements of truth in it, put together I believe it is a Satanic deception. Deception can equally be a distortion of the truth as well as a complete falsehood. The battle between good and evil is not simply about moral matters such as same-sex marriage or gender transition, but about the truth itself.
One other important angle to consider is that many Christians are woefully under thought through in the way that we think about government. I suppose we in the Western world have had “Christian” governments for such a long time that we’re not used to dealing with governments which have gone astray. Perhaps because we haven’t been expecting a Satanic deception, we haven’t recognised it when it has come.
But I think we also need to urgently think through issues brought up by Romans 13. Joe Boot (who wrote the article for Christian Concern) was interviewed on the Irreverend podcast recently, and I think his interview laid bare many of the ways the church has thought insufficiently about the relationship of the church and state. The interview certainly opened my eyes to new ways of thinking.
I think there are huge Biblical issues about what is happening we as Christians are simply not talking about!
Am I damaging the church’s mission?
Let me return to the question of whether I am impeding the church’s mission. I am reminded of the exchange between Ahab and Elijah:
When he saw Elijah, he said to him, ‘Is that you, you troubler of Israel?’
‘I have not made trouble for Israel,’ Elijah replied. ‘But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the Lord’s commands and have followed the Baals.
I think what will harm the church’s mission far more than anything else is turning away from the Lord and his commands. As Christians we should (1) not fear death (or anything else); (2) live in the light of the resurrection; (3) not give up meeting together; (4) sing praises to our God; (5) live in the light of the truth – not just ‘spiritual’ truth, but truth in the world – all truth is God’s truth.
I believe in all of these areas the church across the country has failed in various ways. The truth of this really came home to me when I read a beautiful piece by the headteacher at Christian school in Oxford. I will just quote one paragraph:
I am often asked how we’ve coped with COVID-19 over the last year and people are surprised when I tell them that, since March 2020, no child or teacher in our school has fallen sick with COVID-19. In addition, no child or teacher has missed school because of needing to isolate because of a close contact testing positive for COVID-19. A friend I shared this with recently commented, ‘Wow, it sounds like you really got all your measures right. What do you think really made the difference?’. I shared that our principle from February 2020 was ‘sanity, sanitation and no fear’. Our commitment has been simple: to care for the children we’ve been given to serve, and live courageously under God’s promises. As I reflect on the last year, I’m aware that our experience as a school has been one of God’s mercy. It’s not because we’ve done things ‘right’ that we’ve been spared troubles. God’s grace is Sovereign: He owes us nothing, but we can trust Him with everything. Hudson Taylor once said that ‘God justifies the confidence He enables us to place in Him’. In some way, God enjoys showing that, in all that we trust Him to be, He is sufficient to deliver. As the Almighty, King of creation, the one who holds all things together, our ultimate health and salvation is found in Him.
I just thought it was such a wonderful example of a Christian organisation facing the situation with faith. The Lord will honour those who honour him.
Would an outsider who came into a service and found it full of people standing rigidly 2m apart, not singing, all wearing masks, think it was full of faith in the power of God and in the resurrection? This is not to say I think sensible safety measures e.g. seatbelts are faithless – just that the things I mentioned are not sensible safety measures.
I also believe that there are many people across the country who are disillusioned with what is happening and would be open to coming to church if we could present them with something better than all the covid restrictions. I know for sure that there are people who have made the journey from Sacred Musings to Understand the Bible. I don’t know of anyone who has been put off Understand the Bible because of my views about the lockdown (although of course there might be).
By contrast, many people have written to me over the last few months expressing their appreciation for what I am doing. Let me quote one person who emailed me this morning:
This is where your site has been so very helpful. I have sometimes gone to bed, musing over some points made, with comfort. A recent example being the comparison between Babylon and our Heavenly Home and God’s sovereignty over the world rather than man’s plans. The ‘cursing’ of these men and your reference to how the Bible speaks on this is another example.
… I trust you will be able to continue with this vital work of speaking out. It is so very rare and such a shock to see how little witness to God’s Truth has been exercised in the ‘public square.’
I believe that it is my duty as a Christian and as a minister to seek the truth and live in the light of it. This is simply what I have been trying to do on YouTube and elsewhere – even if that’s been inconvenient or gone against the ‘consensus’. We stand on the shoulders of many Christians through the ages who have stood against the worldly consensus, even at the cost of their lives (e.g. the Confessing Church in Nazi Germany – not that our situation is close to theirs, not yet anyway!)
Where we go from here
One of the biggest problems over the last 18 months or so is that people who have been critical of lockdown policy have been seen as ‘conspiracy theorists’, or dangerous, or – just having unacceptable opinions.
I have written this letter to try and explain why I believe what I do, why I have spoken out. I hope that everything I have written is clear and evidence-based – but I am open to dialogue.
Ultimately, the point I am making here is that we desperately need to open up the conversation about what has happened. Whether I’m right or wrong (and obviously I believe I am right), this issue is not going to go away any time soon. The church desperately needs to speak into the situation Biblically and prophetically.
If I am wrong, please engage and show me. But please prayerfully consider whether I might be right, because it seems to me the future health of the church is at stake.
This is no trivial matter.