Where Are Vaccine Passports Leading?

COVID-19 health passport seen on a smartphone screen
Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

Where Are Vaccine Passports Leading?

Could covid-19 usher in a brave new world of governmental control?

“Papers please.” These are perhaps the most un-American and un-British words in the English language. The Western world has established and prided itself on love of individual freedom and limited governmental control.

That time could be ending. In America and Britain, and around the world, governments are planning an unprecedented level of surveillance and control, on the pretext of combating covid-19.

This new surveillance society will require no rustling of papers. Governments are working on the most convenient system of ID and surveillance ever using smartphones and online tools. But the result is the same. New vaccine passports could soon mean that the government can track your every move.

Here is what the daily routine of a vaccinated citizen might look like.

In the morning, you leave for work. You buy a train ticket on your smartphone in order to commute. The ticketing app checks your vaccine status. It verifies when and where you were vaccinated and allows you to buy a ticket. You are allowed onto one of the more convenient carriages. Those who aren’t verified as vaccinated must wait in a long queue to use the socially distant carriages, if they are allowed on the train at all.

Once you get to work, you scan your security pass to get into the building. Then you scan your covid vaccine app. Your employer only allows vaccinated staff in the office. No jab, no job.

At lunchtime, you leave the office to buy a sandwich. There’s a good coffee shop down the road. Scan the vaccine app, and you’re in. Scan the app again to get back to the office, and you are back at the desk.

After work, you stop by the gym. They checked your vaccine status when you re-enrolled after lockdown. No vaccine, no membership. After heading home to change, you stop by a friend’s house party. But government rules prohibit group gatherings unless everyone is vaccinated. By law, your friend has to scan all your smartphone vaccine passes with his smartphone. It used to be awkward, but now everyone is getting used to it.

The result is the government knows where you are at every point of the day. It has a level of surveillance, and therefore control, that, until recently, the Chinese Communist regime could only dream of. A government record determines if you can work, travel, access entertainment or gather with friends.

Does this seem far-fetched? It is actually a reasonable picture based on plans already being drawn up by governments around the world.

Real Plans

Some of this is already reality in the State of Israel. Restaurants and sporting venues are open—if you have a vaccine pass. Only with a “green pass” do you have the freedom to stay in a hotel, go to the gym, hold a wedding, or even attend certain religious gatherings. A teaching assistant who refused one has already been fired, and lost in court when she tried to get her job back.

Gil Gan-Mor, director of the civil and social rights unit at the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, sees no problem with this. “Anybody who is complaining can get the vaccine tomorrow morning,” he said. And this is someone whose job is to uphold citizens’ rights!

On April 5, the United Kingdom laid out its plans for vaccine passports. It is planning on requiring passports to attend concerts, theaters, nightclubs or large sporting events. One of the contractors working on the pass boasts that the app could deny people tickets or entry to the office for those unvaccinated. They even show how it could be used to keep the unvaccinated from private events like birthday parties.

It won’t get that dictatorial though, will it? This is Britain, after all, the mother of parliaments, the land of constitutional monarchy. As slippery as all politicians can be, they would never attempt to oppress the people with anything so un-British as a vaccine passport, would they?

They have guaranteed that they won’t. In December, Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said, “We have absolutely no plans for vaccine passporting.”

Cabinet minister Michael Gove said the same month: “I think mandating vaccinations is discriminatory and completely wrong … and I would urge businesses listening to this debate today not to even think about this. I certainly am not planning to issue any vaccine passports, and I don’t know anyone else in government who would.”

They were lying.

The same month, a consulting firm published a government commissioned report into how vaccine passports could be used to keep unvaccinated people out of pubs, sports events and other crowded venues.

The government insists that it won’t force pubs and restaurants to require the vaccine. Yet it seems set to require these same kinds of businesses to force people to comply with measures like social distancing—unless they require vaccine passports. The government claims it’s not requiring pubs to check vaccine passports—but if they do it voluntarily, the government won’t stand in the way. Meanwhile it crafts rules that make it almost impossible for a restaurant to make a profit if it doesn’t require a passport.

Fraser Nelson warned in the Telegraph that “the fundamentals of a biosecurity state are now under construction.”

“This is what ministers think the public now want: a big shift in the dial away from liberty so the state can better provide security,” he wrote. “It’s happening incrementally, with no real debate.”

The European Union is also taking significant steps to introduce vaccine passports. Its efforts involve more than national tracking; with free travel across many of its borders, it needs a supranational system. This means a new level of centralization—with data gathered on ordinary citizens across a couple of dozen countries to be united in a single centralized system. Never has the EU exerted such control over the lives of Europeans.

Vaccine passport plans are underway even in America.

New York is already rolling out its “Excelsior Pass.” Without it, you cannot attend art and entertainment venues nor have more than a certain number of people attend your gatherings. And you can only get the pass if you have proof of a recent negative covid-19 test or if you’ve been vaccinated.

But something like this—or even more restrictive than this—could go nationwide. The Biden administration used to say vaccine passports should be left to the states. But on March 29, it announced it was working to set up a federal, standardized system. cnn cited an anonymous government official stating, “Multiple government agencies are engaged in conversations and planning, coordinated by the White House, as this kind of system will play a role in multiple aspects of life, including potentially the workforce.”

Like the British government, the United States government has said that citizens will not be forced to accept a vaccine passport. Maybe it will not pass a law explicitly stating that the non-vaccinated shall serve a prison sentence. But if the government gets its way, you will be forced to accept a vaccine passport if you want to resume a somewhat ordinary day-to-day life.

Governments have made all kinds of promises that the data they collect will be private and not subject to tracking. But how much can you trust governments that have already been caught surveilling and tracking their citizens in other ways, and have already been caught lying specifically about this issue?

Even if the intentions of every powerful member of government are pure and good, the track record of governments and even businesses that engage in mass data collection is poor, to say the least.

Should You Be Worried?

Not even the Soviet Union had the ability to track its citizens’ movements in real time. There are many ways such a system could be misused. Once a government builds it, it could use the same infrastructure to track, check and exclude people for any reason. A big red X could show up on the screen of the train conductor, job interviewer, café cashier, banker, school administrator, social worker, police officer or government agent if the person shows up in the government database as unvaccinated, unregistered in some other government scheme, guilty of something that the government has declared a crime, involved in a certain political party, a member of a certain religious group, having contacted certain people, having read certain things, or having posted a certain opinion online.

The infrastructure for vaccine passports won’t do all these things, but it will do most of the heavy lifting. And crucially, it will break perhaps the first and biggest barrier of all: The resistance of citizens to giving up their rights.

The infrastructure that we are talking about—that elites in your national government are talking about—can determine your ability to buy, to sell, to work. This has led many to think of a verse in Revelation 13: “And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (verse 17).

This is describing the “mark of the beast,” a dangerous, ungodly mark that Bible prophecy says will be implemented during a terrible period in modern human history.

Should Christians be worried about the implementation of vaccine passports?

There are certainly general biblical principles that should cause us to be very worried. Jeremiah 17:9 warns us, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Give flawed human beings such massive governmental power over other human beings, and they will abuse it. British and American forefathers had enough Bible knowledge to know this. That is what motivated them to limit and check the power of the national government. What the Bible reveals about human nature, human government and specific events prophesied for the future should prompt us to pay close attention to what is underway in our governments.

The Bible reveals exactly what the mark is and how to avoid it. But we must look “here a little and there a little” (Isaiah 28:10) to consider all the relevant scriptures.

Many think the mark will be something brand new. What does the Bible say?

Revelation 20:4 describes John seeing in a vision all those who have been killed for Christ. He wrote: “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands ….”

In this vision, God showed the Apostle John true Christians who have been martyred over the past 2,000 years. Yet some of these Christians, already dead, also refused the mark of the beast. This means that the mark is not a 21st-century invention.

The Bible also shows that this mark revolves around obedience to God and His law. The same passage in Revelation 14 that warns of the dire curses for those who accept the mark of the beast shows how those who refuse it are different. They “keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus” (verse 12). Other scriptures state that the wrath of God falls on those who disobey (Ephesians 5:6; Colossians 3:5-6). Those who reject the mark, and thus are targeted by the beast, are those who “keep the commandments of God” (Revelation 12:17).

God will not visit these terrible punishments on someone who is scared by the government into receiving a vaccine. That decision will certainly have consequences. But a loving God isn’t going to visit this kind of punishment because someone is tricked into receiving something. Instead this mark revolves not around whether you have been vaccinated, but around the question of whether you will accept or reject God’s commandments.

The mark of the beast is connected directly to one specific commandment. It has differentiated true Christians for millennia. It is the Fourth Commandment: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8).

Generations of true Christians have been put to death for keeping Saturday and not Sunday. Then, as now, it was a “test commandment.” It was, and will be, easy to disobey, especially when persecution intensifies.

Who will you obey: the words of the Bible or the religious traditions of men? Will you keep the day Jesus Christ kept (Mark 1:15, 38-39; Luke 4:16), the day that first-century Christians kept? (Acts 13:14-15, 42-44; 16:12-15; 17:2). Or will you follow the churches and governments of today? Will it be God’s law that is figuratively written on your forehead and right hand (Deuteronomy 6:6-8), or will it be a law of men?

Although a covid-19 vaccine or passport is not the mark (see “Coronavirus and the Mark of the Beast”), this system could, later, be used to set up such a mark—and exclude those that refuse it from business, public transport and the workplace.

Even if the considerable opponents to these kind of passes succeed, look how much liberty we’ve already lost due to the pandemic. Another assault on that liberty, in order to implement a mark, will be that much easier.

Herbert W. Armstrong proved what this mark is thoroughly in his free booklet Who or What Is the Prophetic Beast? Part 2 of the booklet deals with this subject specifically. It’s a short section—barely longer than some Trumpet articles. I urge you to read it for yourself. The punishments for accepting the mark of the beast are dire. You need to prove exactly what it is for yourself.