In the last two weeks of 2021, anti-vax activists used religion as a tool in their campaign. They saw spiritual damage in the vaccines, equating experiments in Nazi Germany with experiments and coronavirus treatment. COVID-19 was declared a “sect” in some places.
Representative of the Armenian Apostolic Church carries out an anti-vaccination campaign, which contradicts the official position of the same church
Father Armen Melkonian spoke about the “spiritual harms of the vaccine” live on his YouTube channel with an anti-vaccination doctor and political activist, Marina Khachatryan. “The introduction of foreign, genetic material into our body and the change of our organism, is an interference with the works of God, and such things are the works of the devil,” said Marina Khachatryan (28:16 minutes).
The priest conducts religious service in Europe, in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. He was ordained by the Catholicosate of Cilicia and obeys this Catholicosate. It is worth noting that the clergyman is carrying out an anti-vaccination campaign on his channel, contradicting the position of the Armenian Apostolic Church, of which he is a representative.
Months ago, in November 2021, the Mother See issued a statement stating that “the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin does not see any spiritual or religious danger in being vaccinated against the coronavirus.” Moreover, it became known that Catholicos Garegin II was also vaccinated against coronavirus.
This is not the only case when clergymen carry out anti-vaccination propaganda. In October 2021, a video was spread on the Internet in which the pastor of St. Sargis Church in Argavand, Father Grigor Hovhannisyan, claimed that the vaccine did not help. “Do you not see that nothing helps, they vaccinate, they die, they do not vaccinate, they die, they put on a mask, they die, they do not put on a mask, they die,” the spiritual pastor said during his sermon.
Masons, Nazis and Satanists against humanity: the new narrative of growing anti-vaxxers
However, the previous example is not the only case when anti-vaccination activists use religion in their campaigns. They proclaim vaccines as something against the faith advocated by Masons and Satanists.
? The same Marina Khachatryan, this time in her Facebook post, insisted that vaccines do not protect against anything. “Several Masons with the title of professor will announce a new corona wave and will force you to get a new vaccine,” she said.
? In a conversation with armdaily.am, Khachatryan, talking about the costs of treatment against coronavirus, noted that the 800 thousand AMD announced by the Ministry of Health is an exaggerated number. She claimed that by writing off this amount, clinical trials were being performed on people. She drew parallels between trials in Nazi Germany and anti-coronavirus treatment.
? Another anti-vaccine activist, Dmitri Harutyunyan, called the representatives of the healthcare sector “fascist” and “Satanist.” Without presenting evidence, he insisted that a woman with diabetes in “one of the Charbakh polyclinics” was refused her paperwork until she was vaccinated. On the basis of this unproven case, he declared, “You’re no longer fascist, you have become perfect Satanists…” Moreover, he claimed that they “get money from each vaccination.”
Harutyunyan also left this content under one of the posts on the Facebook page of the Ministry of Health. The comment was published as news by panorama.am without receiving clarification from the Ministry of Health.
Sorosian media is not Sorosian
Dmitri Harutyunyan described an extensive publication of CivilNet as “another piece of nonsense from Sorosian media.” It summarized the information about the anti-vaccination movements and the people behind them. This list also included the false information spread by Harutyun about 4 vaccines, as well as the false statement that “the mask is of no use in the fight against the virus, only harm.”
In response to the article, Harutyunyan called non-anti-vaxxers “witnesses of the COVID-19 sect” on his Facebook post, and the media outlet Sorosian, and those who checked the facts cited in the article, “ultra-globalist.” However, the coronavirus is not a sect, but a pandemic and the quoted media outlet has never received funding from Open Society Foundations – Armenia.
The news of athletes who died due to the vaccine reached Armenia
Anti-vax activists in Armenia have begun to spread the word about approximately 300 athletes who had been vaccinated against coronavirus and have died or suffered serious health problems as a result. Before reaching Armenia, this news managed to spread to other parts of the world. The news was checked by many fact-checking platforms.
For example, the Reuters fact-checking team found the source of the list of these athletes. It turned out that it was published by an Israeli media outlet. The list was considered problematic by Reuters. There are names of individuals who have died before the virus or of those whose relatives claim that the person was not vaccinated. Moreover, there is no clear evidence in the publication that the deaths were caused by vaccination.