LOS ANGELES, Calif., September 2, 2021 – In the wake of an upsurge in COVID-19 fatalities across the United States, Pray.com will host Protect America — a faith-based conversation to promote life-saving vaccines with Pastor Donnie McClurkin and Director of National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins. The national online and radio event broadcast will be available starting Thursday, September 2 at 12 p.m. PDT / 3 p.m. EDT on Pray.com.
The discussion between Dr. Collins and Pastor McClurkin will focus on ways Americans can protect their health, provide facts about COVID-19, and deliver a faith-based perspective on vaccine uptake.
The goal of the event is to increase awareness of the recent FDA approval and increase understanding of the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine, especially in communities that have shown a higher rate of vaccine hesitancy.
“As we continue the fight to end this pandemic I am encouraged to see efforts like the ‘Protect America’ event come together and I applaud Pray.com and faith leaders for sharing their platforms to encourage vaccination,” said Dr. Vivek Murthy, Surgeon General of the United States. “Vaccines are the best tool we have to protect our loved ones from COVID-19 and save lives.”
Pastor McClurkin will deliver a vital message about the life-saving measures available to protect oneself, one’s loved ones, and one’s community from COVID-19.
“We praise God for this opportunity to be able to share vital information that people need in this very precarious time,”Pastor McClurkin said “I want to help our churches see that science is a wonderful gift given to us by God, and it’s not that we are trusting government, but that we are trusting something that God has given us.”
Pray.com Co-founder Mike Lynn shared his appreciation for the participants to be able to come together for this discussion and for Pray.com to be able to host it.
“Pray.com is here to create a world where everyone leaves a legacy of helping others,” he said. “We’re committed to providing a platform for faith-based discussions around topics such as this that can help protect and improve people’s lives.”
Pray.com is the world’s No. 1 app for daily prayer and Bible-based audio content, reaching more than 10 million people worldwide through its mobile app and website.
Pray.com was launched in 2017 with a mission to grow faith and cultivate community. Pray.com is the No. 1 app for daily prayer and faith-based audio content and is the easiest way to incorporate prayer into your daily life. Pray.com provides encouragement and inspiration through Daily Prayers, Pastor Podcasts and Bedtime Bible Stories.
Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., was appointed the 16th Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and is the only Presidentially appointed NIH Director to serve more than one administration. In this role, Dr. Collins oversees the work of the largest supporter of biomedical research in the world. Dr. Collins is a physician-geneticist noted for his landmark discoveries of disease genes and his leadership of the international Human Genome Project. Dr. Collins is an elected member of both the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in November 2007, and received the National Medal of Science in 2009. In 2020, he was elected as a Foreign Member of the Royal Society (UK) and was also named the 50th winner of the Templeton Prize, which celebrates scientific and spiritual curiosity.
Donnie McClurkin is an American Gospel singer and minister. He has won three Grammy Awards, ten Stellar Awards, two BET Awards, two Soul Train Awards, one Dove Award and one NAACP Image Award. He is one of the top selling Gospel artists, selling over 10 million albums worldwide.
Pastor Donnie McClurkin: God bless everyone. This is Pastor Donnie
McClurkin and it is my privilege and pleasure to be able to come on this
wonderful wonderful meeting. This America Zoom Fireside Chat with Dr.
Francis Collins. And I welcome everyone of you to this informative
meeting. It is surely going to give you insight that you need as we
continue on. This is founded and hosted really by Pray.com And we praise
God for the opportunity to be able to share with you information. That's
vital information that you will need in this very very precarious time.
So I'm going to open up with a moment of prayer and I want you all to
joining with me at this moment. So father we praise you. We give you
glory because you are God. There's no other God beside you. You are the
only wise God our savior to whom we bow on me and we give our lives. I
pray that you'd give us wisdom and insight during this chaotic time. I
pray that you would give us the help and the hope that we need as we
confer today as we sit down and confer I pray that your wisdom would
exude and and we are taker of this knowledge that can keep us and sustain
our lives. Thank you for Pray.com. Thank you for Dr. Collins and I asked
Lord God that the listeners would be inspired by this. You are wonderful
and we love you and to you alone we give all glory with that we ask this
in your holy name. Amen. Yeah.
Dr. Francis Collins: Amen. Okay. Wow. Well pastor, thank you so much for
joining with me for this conversation and for all the things you've been
doing to try to spread valuable and accurate information to people who
are struggling with what to do with COVID-19 I guess we all hope that by
now we'd be all done with this, but we certainly are not. Here we are in
the 4th surge With 150,000 people getting in the hospital every day and
we've once again seen the death rates start to go up again. More than
1000 people losing their lives. And almost all of those are unvaccinated
people and those lives could have been saved if we'd somehow convinced
people to receive this gift from God, which is how I see it. I'm a
believer like you, I'm a follower of Jesus, somebody who prayed earnestly
that we would find some solution for this terrible pandemic when it first
appeared in the world a year and a half ago and those prayers have been
answered by the way, science has been able to come up with solutions,
particularly the vaccines and yet somehow pastor, a lot of people are
still unsure about that and are waiting for something to see whether
there is a way for them to decide to sign up And I'm hoping this little
conversation that you and I are going to have might encourage some of
those people who have been on the fence to recognize that this is a
golden opportunity to take advantage of a real blessing in which in this
case comes in the form of a vaccine.
Pastor Donnie McClurkin: Well, there's a lot of controversy that goes
behind this and I think this information will bring some resolve to a lot
of questions that people have and and can I start off by asking questions
Dr. Francis Collins: Please do. And I'm glad to do the best I can to
answer them and pastor you and other members of the clergy or in a really
important place right now to get that information and share that with
your churches because you know, look at me, I'm a federal employee. I'm
some white guy from the Washington D. C. Do I have credibility with the
people in your church? I don't know, but you do. So let me help you if
there are things that I can provide as far as evidence and facts.
Pastor Donnie McClurkin: Well, well, what's going on with this, the full
FDA approval with this vaccine? What's going on? There's a lot of
different statements being hurled around what is going on with this FDA
Dr. Francis Collins: So FDA has now granted full and complete approval to
the Pfizer vaccine. That was just a couple weeks ago. FDA is the gold
standard in the world for that kind of rigorous assessment about safety
and efficacy. So if they've said full approval, they mean it. And that
means that all other considerations that you'd want to have looked at as
far as does it work. And is it safe have been judged and it is a slam
dunk that this is a vaccine that has met that standard. The Moderna
vaccine and the J and J vaccine are also being evaluated right now by
FDA. There is every expectation they will also get full approval in the
fairly near future.
Pastor Donnie McClurkin: There's been so many different uh posts put out
that it's not approved, that it's only for emergencies. They've extended
the emergency usage of it. I'm a little confused and I don't really know
how to break this down to our congregation.
Dr. Francis Collins: Mm Well, it was of course initially emergency use
authorization back in December of last year because we wanted to get
these vaccines to people as quickly as possible to try to deal with the
terrible hospitalizations and deaths that were happening. But everybody
recognized that was based upon already a very rigorous data set. All of
those emergency use is dependent upon trials of at least 30,000 people.
But some people were still a little on the fence about. Have we waited
long enough to see if there might any might be long term effects. Well,
some of those people in those trials have now been out there for more
than a year and they're doing fine. There have been no surprise late
effects and I don't think they're going to be. So this full approval,
What's called a BLA by the FDA ought to be seen as a marker that if
you're hesitant because of uneasiness about that emergency use, you need
not be hesitant any further. This has gotten the good housekeeping seal
of approval from the FDA. The gold standard saying this is something you
can trust. So if people are holding back on that basis, I hope they'll
look at this and say, ok, it's done.
Pastor Donnie McClurkin: All right. So, but what what does that really
mean? What does it matter? And what what are the implications behind?
Dr. Francis Collins: I think it is the case then because FDA has approved
this. This now becomes a standard medical intervention like a pill that
you might be taking for your diabetes or your blood pressure. That's gone
through that same rigorous evaluation and you get from the drugstore.
This vaccine now has that same sense of confidence attached to it, that
it works and it's safe.
Pastor Donnie McClurkin: Yeah. Um, and I'm probably going to get in
trouble for these questions. But there are so many people that are saying
that there's a difference between BioNTech and Pfizer and that Pfizer
hasn't really gotten the approval but BioNTech does. I know I'm being
redundant but is there a difference.
Dr. Francis Collins: No, they basically Pfizer and BioNTech. We're
partners in developing this vaccine, BioNTech happens to be European
organization in Germany fighters. An American one they got together to
make sure they had the science that they needed to make it work. So this
vaccine is basically the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine is just one
organization. One vaccine.
Pastor Donnie McClurkin: Thank you so much because that's been the
prevailing question. But now for the people in my community, for those,
um, what is the most common misperception that's going on about this
Dr. Francis Collins: Well, I wish I could say there's just one that's
most common. There's a list. One that I've certainly heard a lot is that
this vaccine may actually create infertility and that of course would be
a big deal if getting vaccinated for either men or women. What's going to
have some impact on their future ability to have Children. Pastor there
is a zero, I mean zero evidence to support that. And there's a lot of
evidence against that. And so people are hearing that. I hope they will
look at the actual information and there's a site that can go and look at
called getvaccineanswers.org that will sort of lay out what we know and
it will make it pretty clear. That is not one that despite its prominence
in social media, which is very good at spreading misinformation, there's
nothing there to back that up.
Pastor Donnie McClurkin: What is that website again?
Dr. Francis Collins: getvaccineanswers.org. So get vaccines answers all
one word, no spaces or anything .org. It's one of several sites that I
think has been very well designed and it's not put forward by people have
an axe to grind. They're just trying to get the information out there.
Pastor Donnie McClurkin: I posted on, on, on the internet and facebook.
My second vaccination from Pfizer and it drew much, much fire. It drew
very, very many, uh, on the, uh, it caused a lot of the people with
misinformation to come on in droves. I just, I'm amazed at the level of
misinformation that's out there and while deeming this as credible based
on no facts at all. I'll say this. Um, God gave us the wonderful Science.
Science is God given. It is not something that was contrived as an anti
or something against God. It was wisdom given by God. And they said, you
know, you're trusting in in the government and not trusting in God. But
the truth of the matter is this is something that God has given for us to
be able to deal with our maladies on our own body by his grace and the
wisdom that he's given. And I'm trying to cause our churches to see this
as a God given gift called Science. What what message can I give our
churches give That will give a more of a, they will give the people more
Dr. Francis Collins: Oh Pastor. You said it very well just now and I want
to associate myself entirely with what you said as a believer. But
somebody who spent my professional life as a scientist. I think science
is a gift from God. Science is a way of exploring the creation that we've
been given and sometimes using that information to prevent diseases or
heal people who have illnesses and that is a blessing. That's an answer
to prayer. Science I think is a form of worship. It is a way in which by
studying nature, which is God's gift to us. We can even more be in awe of
the gifts that we've been given. I think I heard you in a recent piece
where you were reflected on the story of the guy who was drowning and
three different boats came by and offered to save him and he said no
God's going to take care of me and then he drowned anyway and he goes up
to heaven and God says when he says to God, hey, why didn't you save me?
I was counting on you. God points out that he tried really hard. So
prayers can be answered by people. Prayers can be answered by scientists
who are people and produce things like vaccines that can save lives. I
see that is completely compatible with having my trust in God And also
believing that science is the way sometimes that my prayers can be
answered. And I hope people in your church see that. But it sounds like
you've been hearing a lot of pushback
Pastor Donnie McClurkin: Much I've been hearing. So I'm not hearing, I've
been assaulted on so many levels behind the uh, the video of my
vaccination and um, they've considered it a betrayal of the cross. It
considered it becoming a part of the anti Christ and there and let yeah.
And that this is the Mark of the Beast.
Dr. Francis Collins: Oh, I've heard that too. But you know, I went read
Revelation 17 again just to be sure that I had a better sense of what
that vision of John was all about. It does not sound like this vaccine in
any sense of the word. So people who are throwing that away. Come on. You
know, pastor. I think also those people who are spreading information
about the vaccines that are demonstrably not true. Really need to stop
and think a minute we've lost, you know, 630,000 people have died.
Probably at least 100,000 of them didn't need to if they've been able to
take vaccines when they were offered. Many of those are people in the
church. If somebody's out there continuing to spread that false news,
they're contributing to people losing their lives and this is really
serious isn't just sort of an idol academic conversation. So I'm glad
you're willing to be out there. By the way. Something that helps people
also As when they hear that 96% of physicians are vaccinated, including
black doctors. So that tells you something, doesn't it? If this was not a
good thing for all of us with the doctors decide to take advantage of it
in such overwhelming numbers. They got access to a lot of information and
they're clearly making a decision accordingly.
Pastor Donnie McClurkin: But we've had, we've used our church as
Dr. Francis Collins: Good for you.
Pastor Donnie McClurkin: Last of five weeks and then we have an outdoor
service every Sunday out in the open market marketplace and we brought
the vaccination center down there as well. And I believe that everyone
has the responsibility of making the right choice according to their
convictions. But for those that really would pay attention to what's
taking place and the and the drastic devastation of this virus and the
ability to freely have access to a vaccine. I want to make it available
to them. And I pray that the churches around this community would do the
same because our job is saving lives.
Dr. Francis Collins: Yes
Pastor Donnie McClurkin: I would say not just souls, but lives and we've
got to care for the people in the community. I just thank you for taking
this time for allowing us to dispel some of the misinformation and to
give some correct information that can help people live. I'm going to
continue to do this. And uh, they were telling me that I had
nanotechnology in me now and not only that I was a kid, um, I want to
move abroad cosmic power and I'm used to, you know, but all joking aside,
this is very serious moment, This very serious situation. And if the
faith based communities can lend themselves to the accuracy of the
message, tear down all of the myth, mythological, uh, misinformation
that's going on.
Dr. Francis Collins: Yeah, there's there's one more message. I think also
that faith communities resonate with if they start to think about it and
that is that the choice to be vaccinated is not just about yourself. It's
also about other people around you. I particularly worry pastor about
people with cancer who are on various drugs that suppress their immune
system. The vaccine doesn't work for them. They can get the shots, but it
won't actually generate a result because their immune systems kind of
been put down by the treatment or somebody with a kidney transplant or a
liver transplant, a heart transplant. You probably have people like that
in your church. They can't get a good immune response either because the
drugs they have to take to prevent rejection mean that the vaccine
doesn't work. So it's up to all of us to recognize they're vulnerable,
not to mention all the kids under 12 who can't get vaccinated yet either.
So this is a moment to love your neighbor. It's not just about yourself.
Even if you're not really sure you need this. Although I think you should
be think about how this is affecting your family, your friends, people
around you who maybe you don't have the choice to get immunized. You can
help them to Christians have always rallied to that kind of argument. I
hope they'll rally again right now.
Pastor Donnie McClurkin: And I think through through modes of information
like this. I believe this will have a lot of people with some of the
decision making because they've gotten answers two questions and that's
important. Information is key and I thank you so much for availing
yourself to do this and to make it something comprehensive to everyone
Dr. Francis Collins: Really glad to do so pastor, thank you very much for
being out there talking about this. I know a lot of people in the church
are a little uneasy about even bringing it up. But this is a life or
death situation. We've got to face it. We've got to face it square on
figure out the right thing is to do is and then make everybody here that
information you're doing that. Thank you so much.
Pastor Donnie McClurkin: I appreciate that too. And to every one of you
that are watching, I pray that you heard something that will give you a
greater understanding that in this time of pandemic there is cure, there
is help, there is a vaccine and it's up to you to come to the realization
of how important it is for you and your family and your community and
people at large. So I'm glad to be able to bring this to you. God bless