CNN religion commentator Fr. Edward Beck, a Roman Catholic Priest, said in an appearance on "New Day" Friday that unvaccinated Christians should not attend Christmas services.
Most Christian denominations, including the Catholic church, consider Christmas to be among the holiest days of the year, and Christmas Eve services are regularly among the most attended of the year.
Beck, however, claimed that Jesus would not want Christians who are not vaccinated to participate in the holiday that was instituted to celebrate his birth.
In the segment, host Jim Sciutto began the discussion by asking Beck how churches can get people to come back to services in light of the fact that more and more people are withdrawing into their homes.
Unprompted, Beck turned the occasion into an opportunity to lecture the audience with a non-responsive answer that instead focused on the importance of keeping certain people out of worship services.
"I think that what we're trying to say to people is you have a social responsibility if you do gather... you know, Christian churches, many are gathering this evening. And some are still not requiring vaccination, which I disagree with. I think that part of caring for one another, you know, the dictum of Jesus, who we celebrate his birth, is, 'Love one another.' Show compassion. Show mercy to each other. So I think the message is that if we want to act like Jesus in these kind of times, we take care of each other."
Beck did not offer a scripture that would have suggested that Jesus would have supported excluding people from worship who made health care decisions, but he did continue, "And if we're going to gather in celebration, we have to do so safely, comfortably, and we have to give to one another that gift of peace, and part of that is health, and feeling like we're gathering in a healthy environment. So I really hope as people gather in celebration to celebrate the birth of Christ, that we keep that in mind... you know, I don't think there's any reason to say, 'I'm not going to get vaccinated today,' you know, maybe a health reason, but then you can't come to church with services with other people right now."
Beck's comments were roundly condemned on Twitter, with over 3,000 almost uniformly negative replies compared to just over 500 likes at the time of this reporting.