The ACL did not respond to requests for further comment.
The statement had attracted over 200 Facebook comments by Saturday night, with many of the faithful expressing that the comments were not in line with biblical teachings.
Denise Liersch, moderator of The Uniting Church Synod of Victoria and Tasmania, said her church “supports the Victorian government’s desire to ensure public safety with policy informed by medical and public health experts”.
“We are at our best when we live for the wider community. With that in mind, we support the government in encouraging people to vaccinate, not just for their own sake, but to protect others,” she said.
The role of religious leaders was in the spotlight in NSW this week, after Christ Embassy Sydney church in Blacktown was slapped with a seven-day operation ban for conducting a service last weekend attended in defiance of lockdown.
No QR code was displayed at the entry and worshippers had travelled from other coronavirus hotspots including Canterbury-Bankstown, Fairfield and Liverpool, police said.
In a stream posted last Sunday afternoon on the church’s Facebook page, which has since been removed, the pastor led a prayer for the NSW government that “lockdowns are over in the cities of NSW, in the name of Jesus”.
About 60 people, including a number of children, were found last Sunday participating in a sermon at the church in one of Sydney’s local government areas of concern. Tens of thousands of dollars in fines have been issued over the incident.
Earlier this year Mr Iles called upon Christians to be more politically visible, referencing his organisation’s campaign against Victoria’s recent ban on “conversion” therapy – or practices that attempt to change or suppress someone’s sexuality or gender identity – which he said yielded 13,000 calls to MPs.
“All of a sudden I’m actually seeing people rising up more and more and more,” he said at the “Church and State” conference in February.
“Give this a couple of years and we’ll be able to put such a shockwave through any Parliament in the country they won’t even know what hit them. And we’re almost at that point.”
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