Why are Anti-Vax Church Leaders All Weeping? 

Oh, they run schools. Peter Mortlock’s open letter to Jacinda Ardern and every New Zealand MP


For fear of over-clogging subscriber’s inboxes, this is an online-only Webworm. If you want to subscribe and get all my stuff — can can do so here:

Okay: So we are now seeing the next stage of the “Entitled White Christian” panicking at the idea of getting vaccinated in order to protect their fellow humans.

City Impact’s Peter Mortlock has been seeding anti-vax rhetoric at his church for months

His main narrative is that he’s annoyed lockdowns in New Zealand have stopped his flock from gathering to worship. He appears to favour worshipping over potential Covid infections. 

What he fails to mention is that he is a televangelist and his services are broadcast online and on Prime TV — so his flock still gets to hear him.

What I imagine he’s panicked about is the increased difficulty in getting people to tithe when they’re not being handed a physical EFTPOS machine, and the challenge of pulling in new patrons (and their tithes) without a physical gathering. 

Now he faces a new panic. 

Since the government mandated all teachers get vaccinated, he has a new problem on his hands: because City Impact also runs schools, “educating” kiwi youth. 

Suddenly those schools are under threat, because he’s been seeding vaccine fear, hesitancy and blatant misinformation for months. Some of his teachers will not want to get the vaccine, they won’t be allowed to teach, and his schools have the potential to collapse.

What does an entitled man like Mortlock do? He writes to the Prime Minister and every member of parliament, assuming they will listen:

What follows is his plea, in its entirely:

Peter Mortlock’s email to Jacinda and every MP in New Zealand:

“Dear Prime Minister, Minister Hipkins and every Member of Parliament,

I understand that this is not an easy time to govern a country. As the founder of one of the country’s leading private schools and also as the oversight of five childcare centres throughout the nation, employing over 100 people in this profession, I personally write to you deeply concerned.  I write on behalf of the many good people that your recent introduction of Covid-19 vaccination ‘mandates’ are going to adversely affect (and already has). This vaccination mandate makes it compulsory for all school and childcare employees/volunteers to be vaccinated or, to put it bluntly, “be fired”.

I am sure you are aware that due to lockdowns and other Covid restrictions and measures, people are presently under huge pressure. The current environment has produced an extremely high level of fear and anxiety which is very unhealthy for society at large. This recently announced mandate has now greatly added to that stress for many valued employees and volunteers, along with stress being added to the many parents and children who will also be adversely affected by this mandate as the level of staffing drops throughout the country. The mandate will also affect the crucial volunteers who, if not already, will need to be vaccinated or be forced to quit their highly valued roles and therefore organisations will suffer with the loss of their contribution.

On Tuesday, the first day after your announcement, we had staff, both vaccinated and unvaccinated in tears as to what this will mean, not only to the 'soon-to-be unemployed teachers’ but to the overall function of the facilities as well as stress about the weekly testing etc. All at the expense of this Government’s over-reach into people’s personal lives.

Please consider these two points also:

1. It is a well-known reported fact that children are at extremely low risk of any serious consequences from Covid-19, so this is a low-risk area.

2. The well-known science that even vaccinated people can still catch, carry and pass on Covid-19, therefore this mandate does not make sense.

Please think about the 10-20% of the school/childcare workforce who will now be forced to leave their employment (these are individuals with mortgages to pay, families to feed etc) and whether it is 10-20% staff that leave along with volunteers. This is going to cause the industry to go into a tail spin as there is already such a shortage of staff in these areas, of which I am sure you are aware.

After clearly declaring last year that you would not mandate the Covid-19 vaccine and that no one would lose their employment over this, this week’s announcement has seen a complete reversal of this promise to the people of New Zealand - the people who elected you, the people whom you serve.

This is not about the vaccine and it is not about being anti or pro vax. This is about people’s freedom, people’s choices and overreach of Government powers. This is about good people’s lives, their livelihoods, their trained professions and their future.

Forcing people to do something that they may not want to do is not kind, but cruel.  

Forcing people to have to leave their beloved jobs is not kind, but cruel.  

I ask you to please immediately reconsider this mandate before more irreversible damage is done in people’s lives and to organisations (schools and childcare centres etc).

Remembering that these organisations form one of the significant and crucial foundation blocks of any healthy society.

Kind regards,

Ps Peter. 

Peter Mortlock
Senior Pastor”

My favourite bits:

“The current environment has produced an extremely high level of fear and anxiety”

Geez, I wonder what your sermons have been doing for the last few months, Peter? Perhaps they’ve sparked fear and anxiety over a vaccine approved by the World Health Organisation?

As a recap, these are some of Peter’s words from the last few months:

All those needles going into the arm, it’s like they’re trying to wear me down!
Others would say, not obviously all, would call this vaccine experimental…
We do know it has not been fully approved by the FDA…
And even here in New Zealand there’s been some reported vaccine deaths.
I don’t believe in the government right now
I think Fauci knew about the funding of the lab in China…
I don’t believe the media right now
I don’t trust Big Pharma either!
It’s not about conspiracy, it’s just about plain facts, right?!

“We had staff, both vaccinated and unvaccinated in tears

Boo fucking hoo. Get vaccinated. 

“10-20% of the school/childcare workforce who will now be forced to leave their employment”

Just pulled 10 - 20% out of the air. And also, I offer a magic solution to keeping your job (and help other people around you): Get vaccinated. 

“This is not about the vaccine and it is not about being anti or pro vax.”

You could have fooled me.

“Remembering that these organisations form one of the significant and crucial foundation blocks of any healthy society.”

No Peter, I’d argue you’re actively making it sicker. 

Manukau Christian School Also Weeps

As I mentioned earlier this week, Peter Mortlock isn’t the only Pentecostal Christian running a school. Manukau Christian School — which employs the MAGA hat wearing teacheris also weeping.

Mr Scott Kennedy — another entitled white man — is Deputy Principal at the private Christian School. According to their website he is also “Head of High School”. Cool guy to be educating our youth. Totally normal stuff.

He’s so melodramatic you’d think you were watching a Lifetime film about a girl and her dead horse:

“I am not an emotional person. In the last 20 years of life, I believe I can count on the fingers of one hand the times I have wept. Not that I think this is a virtue, it just seems part of my temperament. But twice in the last week, I have been so upset – distraught even – that I have wept.”


“I am not an anti-vax person. In fact, in the case of this vaccine, my wife had been working away at me and encouraging me to get it. My thinking was: I’m not high risk, there’s no hurry for me to get it, I’m happy to bide my time and see if anything nefarious comes out about the vaccine. To be honest, it doesn’t seem like much of a vaccine to me, but I’m not convinced it’s dangerous.


“The mandate changes everything. This is my line in the sand, and I pray that it is the line in the sand for many Christians and indeed all citizens, vaccinated or not. As a Christian, my theology of government is derived from the Bible and not from pragmatics or social convention.

The Bible teaches that the state is responsible for the sword — for maintaining justice and protecting the innocent from the evildoer.

It does not teach that the government has the right before God to forcibly put something into a citizen’s body with the threat of losing their livelihoods if they don’t. Each person is created in the image of God, and they are responsible for their own bodies before God.

They need to be able to decide before God whether or not to get a vaccine.


So am I scared? You bet. I am concerned about how I will feed my family and what a great cost this decision will have for my wife and children. I am not a hero.”

Some thoughts:

“I have been so upset – distraught even – that I have wept.”

Distraught over having to get a vaccine that will protect you and — more importantly — the people around you? Weird flex but okay mate. This strikes at the core of my earlier essay: Fear of a Changing World: For the privileged, this pandemic is the first time they've experienced world-bending trauma.

To be clear: There are marginalised groups that have reason to be distrustful of authority, because they have historically been treated like shit. As one Webworm reader put it: “It’s definitely a privilege to be able to confidently walk into a random clinic, roll up your sleeve and be injected without worry or anxiety. There’s definitely been over the centuries groups that have been, at best, ignored and at worst harmed by the medical institution and it’s not difficult to imagine the extra hurdles it puts in front of them when it comes time to follow government advice.”

To be clear: The men you are reading about today to not fit that description. 

“I am not an anti-vax person.”

He is a cookie cutter of Peter Mortlock: carefully stating he is not anti-vax, before saying a comment like: “It doesn’t seem like much of a vaccine”. 

“Am I scared? You bet. I am concerned about how I will feed my family”

I have a handy tip: Stop being so fucking selfish and get vaccinated you privileged pillock.

“I am not a hero.”

First thing you said that made sense.

I picked two examples I saw this week from two men who run schools in New Zealand. 

Both men see themselves engaged in a thrilling real-world LARP of Good vs Evil. Part of them will love the attention they are getting. Part of them will be rejoicing because this signals end times and the return of Jesus. 

They are also confused and angry because their income is being threatened. And so they keep spreading fear and disinformation in a never ending loop. 

How can the smoker and non smoker be free in the same railway carriage?

I wanted to include something Webworm reader Will sent me. It’s really good:

Disappearing into a fog of “rights rhetoric” is a familiar tactic, but such people should be made to unpick George Bernard Shaw’s famous question:

How can the smoker and non smoker be free in the same railway carriage?

The answer is, of course, that they can’t both be free because all rights eventually bump up against other rights and so the real question is how we arbitrate between them. This  becomes a pragmatic issue about balancing the benefits/harm to each party and society decides this based on the facts as they see them at the time.

There is thus no golden sky hook that rights hang from – although religious people might see the hand of god holding the sky hook. However religion flourishes as a safe haven from reason so that is another battle in another place.

Personally I have always followed my grandfather’s advice — when you meet a man who talks about religion, keep your hand on your wallet.

MVP: Reverend Frank Ritchie

I wanted to give the final word goes to a sane Christian, Rev. Frank Ritchie — who shared this thoughts about vaccines on Twitter. They were refreshing words. Enjoy.

“I’ve been asked why, as a church minister, I’m so vocally in favour of people getting the vaccine rather than holding my opinion privately so that everyone can make their own choice free of clerical influence. Here are a few reasons:

1. This is the single biggest global health crisis we've faced in my lifetime. It impacts the whole world. The potential and creativity to tackle problems the world faces — a potential woven into us, I believe, by God, has worked itself out through the vaccines.

2. Looking at all the information I have been able to, I see no other way of slowing the loss of life, protecting the vulnerable, and slowing the huge run on healthcare systems that would happen if the virus was let loose.

3. Sure, we might get to a place of reduced carnage as the virus worked itself through the human population over decades and we built immunity that way, but we get to fast-forward that process with less loss via the vaccine.

4. Some sectors of the Christian community have been overcome by misinformation. In the faith community and in other communities, those who, for various reasons, distrust govt, medical authorities, and science have been overcome — they need calm voices from the other side.

5. Whilst I believe government’s and big pharma can and do undertake awful things for terrible reasons, I believe, in this instance our government has pursued the best way forward they can. It’s can never be perfect, but it's what we're doing. The same goes with the vaccine.

6. I hate seeing the faith I hold discredited by those who have believed the misinformation. Faith leaders should be at the forefront of the wellbeing of our communities, that includes health. Where something like a virus is threatening people, it's our job to step up and help.

7. I trust, listen to, and defer to the majority of experts in the fields relevant to this crisis. Just as I don't enjoy people who argue with me about God because they heard something in Sunday school they disagree with, so I won’t presume to know better than an immunologist.

8. Whether I like it or not I have a certain level of ‘influence’. Because of that, I was never going to be able to sit on the fence. I have to make decisions on various issues all the time. Those decisions then impact my local church community and others. Whatever choice I made it would affect the lives of others. I have to live with the consequences of decisions I make and what those decisions mean for others. Weighing that up, supporting and encouraging the vaccine did and still seems wisest.

9. At the end of the day I do not control what others think. I work hard to counter the usual influence of social media in people’s lives — the misinformation, the division, the tribalism, the us vs them mentality. I saw that early in those pushing against the C19 response so I chose to take a different stance in support of the govt approach, and doing my best to encourage us all through it rather than feeding discontentment and agitation. Eventually I believe we will see the other side of this. Peace.”

Amen to that.


Give a gift subscription