Photo credit: Elizabeth Jones

What Would Mister Rogers Do?

I have the great good fortune to live across the street from a college football stadium. The Northwestern Wildcats are currently in residence, and last Saturday was no exception. Game Day in this neighborhood always has a festive atmosphere, even if it is somewhat dampened by the cautions and restrictions of COVID-19.

Yes, sports teams have stringent health rules and restrictions placed upon them. It does not matter whether you consider college teams or professional teams. All sports teams take particular care to not spread the COVID virus. So, imagine the surprise when Aaron Rodgers, the star quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, found out last week that he tested positive for COVID. What is the matter with that? Aaron Rodgers lied about his vaccination status. He hadn’t been jabbed.

Rodgers is currently one of the top-rated football players in all the National Football League. In August, he stated in a press conference that he had, indeed, been immunized. Now, he’s tested positive for COVID, and did not play in last Sunday’s game.

For the Packers’ star quarterback to tell an outright untruth has many people across the country infuriated. It is one thing for someone to be fully vaccinated and then still come down with the COVID virus, especially considering the different variants of the virus currently circulating. Rodgers was disingenuous when he spoke at the August press conference. Moreover, he misled the public (and his own team) when he allowed everyone to believe he had been vaccinated.

Professional medical and nursing groups across this country, even across the globe, overwhelmingly agree. Get the vaccination. Private citizens can protest for any one of several reasons, which have varying validity. And, there are certainly legitimate medical exceptions. However, Rodgers protested over the weekend that he was leery of the COVID vaccine because he wanted to father children someday. Also, he mentioned he had heeded a popular television personality who had spread this (suspect) misinformation.

Again, a private citizen can object to getting jabbed. But, Rodgers’ highly-placed position as a star quarterback for a professional football team puts him in a whole different league. A trusted, highly-skilled teammate among other team players. Definitely not a private citizen any longer.

This past Sunday, Fox football commentator (and Hall of Fame quarterback) Terry Bradshaw called out Rodgers on the air for outright lying and for possibly putting his teammates at risk for getting infected by him. And, for not being a team player. The other commentators overwhelmingly agreed with Bradshaw. Calling foul on Rodgers! Serious accusations indeed, especially since Fox Broadcasting is not very proactive about vaccines in the first place.

What does all this uproar have to do with the church, anyhow? The Pastor Is Political column regularly digs deep into the current political uproar. This continuing story is definitely that. I don’t care whether you follow the Red Team or the Blue Team, or whether you live in a Red state or Blue state. There are lots of reasons to get vaccinated. As clergypersons and/or leaders of congregations, we all must consider Jesus’ caring, protective attitude towards all people – especially those in fragile health, the elderly, the infirm, the very young, What would Jesus do?    

As a trained hospital chaplain and currently as a small church pastor with a number of elderly church members in my congregation, I certainly have been vaccinated. Yes, I remind people of what many different professional organizations say: please, get vaccinated. If you have sincere questions about the vaccine, please, go to your doctor or local hospital’s website and ask. Please.

I think of another beloved television personality: Fred Rogers. (who was also a Presbyterian minister) On his children’s television show years ago, he purposely set out to be inoculated, to show his young audience what it was all about and why it was a prudent idea.

I would much rather listen to Fred Rogers than Aaron Rodgers. Which one would you rather follow?

Let us pray:

Dear Healing God, thank You for the miracles of modern technology, especially vaccines. We pray for all those who are in fragile health, and ask You to protect them. We pray for all those who are leery of vaccines, and still have not gotten them. We pray for all those who are affected by COVID, especially those who are seriously ill or have lost loved ones to this virus. Dear Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers. Amen.

The Rev. Elizabeth Jones

Elizabeth is pastor at St. Luke’s Christian Community Church (UCC) in the Chicago suburb of Morton Grove, and is a member in the Federation of Christian Ministries. Elizabeth holds a Master of Divinity degree from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and a Certificate in Alcohol and Drug Counseling in Illinois (certified by IAODAPCA), and is active in peacemaking and interfaith work, engaging the local community.

She blogs at “Pastor, Preacher, Pray-er” at Her spiritual training enables her to bring encouragement, strength and comfort to persons in need.   

Elizabeth’s family shares space with a petite cat (with a big personality) named Mary. Elizabeth loves reading, music, piano-playing, yoga, taking walks, baking, and messing around on the computer.

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