Despite his insistence that he refrains from politics and is concerned only with science, former National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins was captured in a leaked audio recording mocking fellow evangelical Christians who believe they have the God-given, constitutionally protected liberty to choose not to be vaccinated for COVID-19.
In the recording of a private event Oct. 26 at the University of Chicago, Collins said many evangelicals have so “wrapped themselves in the flag and wrapped themselves in this concept of personal freedom, that public health just grates on them.”
“[Evangelicals] have forgotten many times that freedom is not just about rights,” Collins said, according to the recording, which was obtained by Meg Basham of the Daily Wire.
Collins then, in a mocking Southern accent, asked the students: “How many times have you heard, ‘Muh freedom means I got rights’? Well, OK, you also have that other R-word: responsibilities. That’s what freedom is supposed to incorporate.”
The event included a Q-and-A with Southern Baptist Convention theologian Russell Moore on behalf of the Institute of Politics, an organization founded by senior Obama adviser David Axelrod, reported Basham.
Significantly, the Daily Wire reporter noted, Collins and Moore said they were enjoying the opportunity to speak freely because the event was not being formally recorded.
Collins, who was appointed Feb. 17 as a special science adviser to President Biden, touted the federal vaccine mandates as an effective tool.
“Do [mandates] convince people who otherwise wouldn’t get them?” he asked the students. “Oh yeah, especially if it means losing your job.”
He said that that reality began “sinking in” for the NIH workers and contractors who had declined to be vaccinated, and, consequently, even the “pretty darn resistant” chose to get the jab.
“You get the feeling that their resistance was not maybe quite that deeply seated,” Collins chuckled.
He speculated that many unvaccinated people actually wanted to get the vaccine but resisted because of peer pressure.
“They’re sort of thinking to themselves, you know, maybe I really should do it, but if I do, I lose my credibility with my peeps,” Collins said.
Mandates, he continued, give the vaccine-resistant a way to save face.
”Well, my employer made me do it. I didn’t really want to get them.’ They get, you know, bonus points, because they’re now a victim. But they’ve also gotten the mandated vaccine that they kind of wanted anyway.”
Basham reported in February how Collins – who writes of his conversion from atheism to Christianity in his book “The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief” – and the federal government used evangelical leaders to promote its vaccine narrative.
Collins announced his resignation as NIH director in October in the wake of the publishing of government documents indicating he falsely claimed his agency was not funding gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
In September, Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University, said government documents reported by The Intercept “make it clear that assertions by the NIH Director, Francis Collins, and the NIAID Director, Anthony Fauci, that the NIH did not support gain-of-function research or potential pandemic pathogen enhancement at WIV are untruthful.”
Ebright was among the 16 scientists who authored a letter published in September in the prestigious British science journal The Lancet calling for another look at the evidence that the pandemic began with a lab leak. The scientists condemned a February 2020 letter organized by Wuhan lab collaborator Peter Daszak marginalizing anyone who entertained the lab-leak theory as a conspiracist. Ebright and his 15 colleagues said Daszak’s letter and a subsequent missive had “a silencing effect on the wider scientific debate, including among science journalists.”
It was under Collins’ leadership that the NIH lifted a moratorium on gain-of-function research in 2017 that was implemented during the Obama administration due to concerns that the research could trigger an outbreak.
In a February 2020 email to Collins and Dr. Anthony Fauci released earlier this year, top British and American scientists said they believed the lab-leak theory of the COVID-19 pandemic was likely. But they didn’t want to openly consider the possibility because it might harm “science,” particularly its practice in China.
Collins, in an October 2020 email to Fauci, asked the White House coronavirus adviser to carry out a “quick and devastating published takedown” of the Great Barrington Declaration, describing its authors – faculty at Harvard, Stanford and Oxford – as “three fringe epidemiologists.”
Amid criticism, Collins defended the email in an interview with Fox News host Bret Baier, saying “crazy proposals on the basis of pseudoscience … need to be called out.”
The language of God
Collins, whose tenure at NIH began during the Obama administration, is known for his leadership in the effort to decode DNA. As the director of the National Human Genome Research Institute since 1993, he helped develop a revolutionary method of screening genes for disease. His work on the genome project earned him the Presidential Medal of Freedom award in 2007 from President George W. Bush.
In his book “The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief,” he says his conversion was influenced by how his Christian patients endured suffering and after reading some of the works of C.S. Lewis.
Collins also is the founder of The BioLogos Foundation, which focuses on dialogue between science and religion. Despite its faith-based foundation, BioLogos is a chief critic of the theory of intelligent design promoted by scientists associated with the Discovery Institute.
And he’s been known to use his musical talent to convey his scientific and political views: