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National Religious Broadcasters VP writes about getting COVID-19 vaccine — and loses job over it

Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

Daniel Darling — pastor, author, and former senior vice president of communications for National Religious Broadcasters — lost his job on Friday for opinions expressed in an early August editorial in which he announced that he had been vaccinated against COVID-19 and recommended that all Christians get a coronavirus vaccine.

What's a brief history here?

In a USA Today op-ed, Darling said that the organization told him that his public comments "violated the organization's policy of neutrality on COVID-19 vaccines."

Following the op-ed, Darling appeared on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," where he described how his Christian faith motivated him to receive the vaccine.

In remarks to "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough, Darling explained that his faith prompted him to receive the shot because "we ought to love our neighbor."

In getting vaccinated against COVID-19, Darling said, he was able to protect both himself and others.

He also urged people to stop politicizing vaccines.

Author And Pastor Explains Why As A Christian He Got Vaccinatedwww.youtube.com

What are the details?

In a lengthy editorial, Darling said that while he doesn't believe that he violated the organization's policy, he has no ill will toward his former employer.

"It was an honor to serve Christian communicators who work every day to share the Gospel around the world," he added, but pointed out that he is "deeply grieved" by division among Christians.

"In his prayer in John 17, Jesus prayed in very personal terms for the church," Darling wrote. "His desire was: 'May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us, so that the world may believe you sent me (John 17:21).' Jesus' desire was for His followers to be unified as he is unified with the Father. This, He said, would be evidence of something supernatural at work in us, a testimony to the world of the Gospel of Jesus."

Darling explained that he fully believes that that "unity" doesn't mean "papering over abuse and misconduct in our midst," which he says is a "convenient cover for malfeasance."

"Unity isn't ignoring injustice and evil in the world," he continued. "But for Christians, to be unified means that people from every nation, tribe, and tongue share something in common, our belief that Jesus died and rose again, victorious over sin, death, and the grave."

This, Darling added, is why people all over the world gather on Sundays to worship God and share one another's burdens.

"Today, we live in a very polarized nation," he wrote. "There are perverse incentives against unity among Christians, to fail to give the benefit of the doubt, to rush to judgment, to make a name for ourselves by hurting our fellow brothers and sisters."

Such perverse incentives, Darling added, are particularly noticeable amid a global pandemic, racial tension, and ongoing political division.

"The easy path for us is to yield to the temptation of the hour, to allow differences over secondary things to cause us to forget what is primary," he explained. "But the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 8 that 'as much as possible' we should 'live in peace with all men,' and in Ephesians 4 to 'make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.'"

Darling added, "In other words, for Christians, this means unyielding conviction on the things that matter and open-handedness on things that don't."

To remedy the division, Darling suggested that people ought to "see those with whom we disagree not as enemies, but as neighbors."

"We should not see them as the sum total of their opinion, but as whole people, made in the image of God," he explained. "Second, while we must hold our deepest convictions strongly, we might hold our opinions on the secondary issues more loosely, being willing to hear the concerns of those who might have good reason to land in a different place."

"Third," Darling continued, "we should not assume malice on the part of those who disagree" and that such direction is "especially important for believers."

"1 Corinthians 13:7 says 'love believes all things,'" he wrote. "Love is not naive in a world of evil, but love also doesn't assume the worst. It gives the benefit of the doubt."

Finding unity in brothers and sisters of Christ — and across the world at large — Darling said, "involves forgiveness, the kind of supernatural, otherworldly ability to forgive those who have hurt you deeply."

He concluded, "Thankfully, this is modelled [sic] almost every day in communities around the country, where churches are full of people working through their differences in a time of great tension. We don't have to participate in cancel culture because of the one who canceled our sin and gave us salvation."

What else is there to know?

According to NBC News, Darling was fired two days after he refused to sign a letter admitting insubordination.

National Religious Broadcasters — whose website boasts that the organization "works to protect the free speech rights of our members" — did not respond to the network's request for comment as of Saturday.

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