New York Gov. Kathy Hochul asked members of a Brooklyn church to "be my apostles" to promote New York's vaccine mandate agenda as unvaccinated individuals "aren’t listening to God and what God wants."
The Democrat governor spoke Sunday at the Christian Cultural Center, an evangelical megachurch, The Western Journal reported.
The state's first female governor, who took office after former Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned in disgrace amid sexual harassment allegations, said God had answered prayers about the pandemic.
"He made the smartest men and women, the scientists, the doctors, the researchers — he made them come up with a vaccine," Hochul told the congregation. "That is from God to us, and we must say, 'Thank you, God.'"
Hochul addressed church members the day before New York's vaccine mandate for health care workers went into effect.
"I need you to be my apostles," Hochul told members both present and online. "Jesus taught us to love one another. And how do you show that love but to care about each other enough to say, 'Please get the vaccine because I love you and I want you to live.'"
The governor concluded her remarks by promising to "use the inspiration of God in my life and fight for you every single day as your governor and beyond" without quoting a single verse of Scripture, the Journal said.
Cuomo on Aug. 16 announced that all healthcare workers in the state needed to receive their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 27 or risk termination. There were "limited exceptions for those with religious or medical reasons."
New York’s Public Health and Health Planning Council approved an emergency regulation on Aug. 26 — two days after Hochul became governor — that completely removed the religious exemption but left the medical exemption in place.
A group of anonymous healthcare workers filed a lawsuit on Sept. 13 against the state, arguing that their constitutional rights were violated when New York issued a vaccination mandate with "no exemption for sincere religious beliefs."
The lawsuit said the 17 plaintiffs conscientiously objected to the COVID-19 vaccine on religious grounds because "they all employ fetal cell lines derived from procured abortion in testing, development or production of the vaccines."
A U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York then temporarily blocked the mandate for those seeking religious exemption. The New York Post reported a judge on Oct. 12 will decide "whether to make the preliminary injunction more permanent."
Hochul, a pro-abortion advocate from "a big Irish Catholic family," told The Associated Press that she's "not aware of any major religious group" that prohibits its followers from getting the vaccine
"Everyone from the pope on down is encouraging people to get vaccinated," she said.
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