Lutheran Bishop of Helsinki Teemu Laajasalo has urged everyone to accept their responsibility for the health of their loved ones by getting vaccinated. (Antti Aimo-Koivisto – Lehtikuva)

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A GUEST CONTRIBUTION to Helsingin Sanomat by the Lutheran Bishop of Helsinki, Teemu Laajasalo, has resulted in a spike in people leaving the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland.

Laajasalo on Sunday argued that people choosing not to get vaccinated against the coronavirus are making decisions affecting not only their own life and freedoms, but also the lives and freedoms of everyone.

“We must not leave responsibility for our loved ones hinging on the understanding and compassion of individuals, but we have to carry our responsibility as a community by exhibiting the real kind of neighbourly love with the help of clearly stricter restrictions targeted at unvaccinated people,” he wrote.

“Based on undisputable medical evidence, getting vaccinated is the best and most effective way to protect your loved ones from the suffering, agony and death caused by the communicable disease.”

Eroakirkosta.fi, an online service enabling people to resign from the state churches in Finland, on Tuesday revealed that roughly 200 people used the service to issue a notice of resignation on Monday. Spokesperson Jori Mäntysalo told Helsingin Sanomat that the daily number of notices this time of the year is typically about 75.

While the service users need not disclose the reason for their resignation, all signs indicate that the impetus for the up-tick in resignations is the opinion piece penned by Laajasalo, according to Mäntysalo.

“Even a notice of resignation received a minute ago pointed to the opinion of Laajasalo in Helsingin Sanomat,” he said to the newspaper.

Those who disclosed the reason for their resignation described the contents of the opinion as, for example, “hate speech”, “completely unchristian”, and an attempt to point the finger at unvaccinated people and create divisions.

Laajasalo on Monday explained to Helsingin Sanomat why he considered it important to comment on the rumbling vaccination debate: it was high time to issue a reminder that the consequences of your decisions may be felt by a loved one who is weaker or more fragile than you.

Also the administrators of eroakirkosta.fi drew attention to the importance of getting vaccinated.

“The bishop and freethinkers are completely in agreement on this issue,” underlined Mäntysalo.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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