What is the difference between baptism and vaccination? That's a question that is raised in the latest episode of Showtime's SMILF. SMILF is a clever new comedy based upon the life of Frankie Shaw, who has multiple roles (star, writer, etc.) in the show.
On first glance, readers might say that baptism is a mystical religious ritual and vaccination is a science-based medical practice that are completely different and they would be right. But Shaw, ingeniously, sets up a great juxtaposition. A couple of episodes back her character Bridgette, confronted with the threat of chickenpox in her unvaccinated child and realizing the child's biological father's opposition to vaccination (because he believes they are poison and government mind control), has the child surreptitiously -- and laudably -- vaccinated.
End of story...except for the baptism issue.
Bridgette, again very admiringly, is not religious and has not permitted her son to be baptized despite her mother's fervent Catholicism. When the child's father finds out about the vaccination and simultaneously is offered an opportunity to have the child baptized, he falsely creates an equivalency between the two actions and has the child baptized.
It's this false equivalency -- in the face of a gulf wider than the Red Sea--that is worth thinking about. Vaccination, in 2017, is performed because of the clear benefit it offers the individual being vaccinated against specific infections for which the risk is not neglibile. This benefit is evidenced by falling childhood mortality rates, rising lifespans, and the recession (and even the eradication) of vaccine-preventable diseases. Vaccination is performed because it is evidence-based, biologically-plausible, and has proved tremendously successful.
Baptism, on the other hand, is none of this. It is performed to supposedly nullify the sin that every human is allegedly born with through no fault of their own. These "sinful" babies, if they fail to be baptized, are prohibited entry into a paradisiacal afterworld. To me, nothing can really be more cruel or calculatingly devious than to morally damn all humans by virtue of their being born and offer as the only solution a primitive ritualistic practice. Far from being a protective like vaccination, baptism is the opposite for it exposes one to the true poison of religious dogma that one is immersed in along with the "holy" water.
The true baptism is one that is the culmination of the painstaking scientific inquiry and research that has allowed our species to tame some of the more dangerous members of microbial world.
Thanks to the talented Frankie Shaw for making this point so clearly, dramatically, and entertainingly.