COVID shots and “The Mark of the Beast’? Battling religious vaccine misinformation

Credit: Sergio Flores/Getty Images
Credit: Sergio Flores/Getty Images

The Book of Revelation describes the End Time as a bloody battle filled with persecution, during which a beast forces “all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads,” according to the New International Version. “They could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name,” 666.

A video by [Christian influencer Tyler] Lackey in July — “Could vaccines be the mark of the beast?” — speculated that mask mandates in stores and other rules might signal the mark because they were the first step in preventing people from being able to buy and sell, which Revelations suggests will be prohibited in the End Time. The video was viewed over 100,000 times.

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Conversations within communities are sometimes more effective at combating misinformation than labeling or other measures from social media companies, said Renee DiResta, research manager at the Stanford Internet Observatory.

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“People who are understanding of the framework of belief and empathetic to the underlying religious concern have a huge role to play in combating this misinformation,” she said. “It has to come from someone who occupies a position of trust.”

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