Is COVIDSafe safe: Christians comment on the new App

Keith Jobberns, National Ministries Director, Australian Baptist Ministries
“Yes, I have downloaded the app. While I am aware there are some concerns about privacy, the value of the app in helping to safeguard our communities and speeding up the process of seeing the restrictions limited far outweigh the privacy concerns. I am recommending that people upload the app while affirming that this is personal choice.”

Tim Costello, Executive Director of Micah Australia, Senior fellow at Centre for Public Christianity
“Downloaded it immediately. At 65, I – and those my age – know [our] fate is in the hands of others. This is the least I could do. I am part of a community and recognise this interdependence is critical for our health!”

Glenn Davies, Anglican Archbishop of Sydney
“I and my bishops have installed the COVIDSafe app as a vital way of helping contain coronavirus. I encourage others to do the same. We continue to pray for our leaders, health workers and all affected by this disease. May God have mercy on our nation.”

Neville Naden, Bush Church Aid Indigenous Ministry Officer
“The jury is still out for me. I will wait to see how the information/data is going to be protected.”

David Robertson, Director of Third Space, a Christian evangelism organisation
“I downloaded the application as soon as it came out.  I have no hesitation in urging every Australian, especially Christians, to do so. Why? Because it is our duties as Christians to be good citizens, because we are to love our neighbours. Seeking to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to the elderly, weak and vulnerable is an act of love. Given that I use the internet, Google maps, Bluetooth and numerous other apps, this particular app is a lot less intrusive into my privacy than much of what is already on my phone. So, unless you believe that it’s all a conspiracy and this app is really the ‘mark of the Beast,’ I would strongly encourage each person to download this and help enable us all to get on with our lives – as well as protect lives of others. I can no more understand why any Christian would refuse to do this, then I can understand why a Christian would refuse to help the sick and poor.”

Commissioners Robert and Janine Donaldson, Salvation Army Australia
“The Donaldsons are using the COVIDSafe App. With regard to any concerns people may have about using it, the Donaldsons feel the app is designed for our safety. So, if people feel comfortable using it, then they should.”

Eddie Ozols, Acting CEO Anglican Aid
“I downloaded the app yesterday and registered for it last night. I did this as if I was to be diagnosed with COVID-19, I would want the health agencies knowing who I had met – both as a source of where I may have been infected, as well as the health agencies being able to advise others I had met since being infected. So they could be warned that they should be tested to ensure they are safe. As a Christian, this is a way of serving people I meet and also the wider community, as attempts are made to manage the spread of the virus.”

Geoff Broughton, Theological Lecturer and Pastoral Supervisor
“Faced with a complex decision (like using the COVIDSafe app), I find it more difficult witnessing the confident convictions of people I love and respect: absolutely, yes to absolutely not! Why isn’t this a simple decision for me? There are competing values that are not easily resolved: personal risk versus communal benefits, and short-term benefits versus long-term risks. I am drawn to the short-term benefits for the common good of widespread use of the app. My faith and commitment to the more vulnerable members of the community makes opting out a difficult choice. I am wary, however, of the longer-term data risks, particularly for those same, more vulnerable members. I’m not overly concerned about my personal data, but realise that centrally-stored data is a high-risk venture because bullet-proof protection against nefarious people simply does not exist. In the end, with all the contingency and controversy at play, I will probably download the app … probably.”

Bishop Philip Huggins, President, National Council of Churches in Australia
“For all the good reasons given and because of a personal experience ,I downloaded the App as soon as it was available ,commended it to family and friends and took it on my bike ride this morning ! ( No pings yet!). The personal experience? A couple of weeks back , I was asked to pray for and anoint a person near death. Turned out ,the day before the person had been visited by someone from interstate who, immediately after returning interstate was diagnosed positive with COVID19. I saw, first – hand the stress this caused in multiple families ,including my own. I also saw the complexity of trying to work out , after the event , all those contacts the traveller from interstate had made. The App is a wonderful technology to further minimise  suffering , thanks be to God.”

Neil James Foster, Associate Professor of Law, Newcastle University
“For those who like the details, here is an official copy of the rules protecting the privacy of data collected by the COVIDSafe app. Looks good to me and I will be using the app.”

Wayne Alcorn, National President, Australian Christian Churches
“We all want to see Covid-19 eradicated from our world and lives saved, which is why we have been doing our part through fervent prayer, practising good hygiene and adhering to the social distancing and isolation restrictions. From the outset we have been supportive of the Federal Government initiatives. Collectively we began to pray daily at 19h00 and it’s wonderful to start seeing results as the curve begins to flatten. It’s important that we continue to work in partnership with authorities to see this crisis over. The ACC has encouraged our pastors and churches to support the next initiative and download the Covid Safe App. We’ve looked at the best practice advice from experts on security and health, and the input of Christian legal professionals, so appeal to people to be less suspicious, and support it. I downloaded the App last night.”

Megan Powell du Toit, Baptist Minister and Eternity podcast co-host
“I am currently giving due consideration as to whether to download the COVIDSafe app. I am sympathetic to its aims, and may well download it. But I also hear the concerns. I have been hosting a public conversation on Facebook to allow people to hear from each other as to why they are or aren’t downloading the app. One big reason for this is that I am concerned that the peer pressure to use the app will cause fracture within communities, and ignore reasonable fears by particular groups of more vulnerable people. It might also work against itself, as people may feel unfairly pressured and so shut out good arguments. I understand the peer pressure, because it is more effective if we can get a good percentage of us to use it. But I also think we need to be careful to respect the decision processes of others. I’m hoping the conversation I’m hosting might aid in that. And I want to make sure I access good information from a range of areas of expertise before I download. But overall, I’m looking to how I can best love my neighbour, and especially those who are more vulnerable or less able to be heard.”

Martyn Iles, Managing Director of the Australian Christian lobby
“Christians are prayerfully weighing up whether to install the COVID-Safe app which is a matter between them and God. Some say they can do good and love their neighbour by installing it, whilst others fear the precedent this sets for data collection and surveillance by the government. Installation of the app is optional as a matter of policy and is also optional as a matter of Christian conscience.

Steve Chong, co-founder and director of RICE Movement
“If there is one thing we have learned in 2020 it is that our actions affect others and part of loving our neighbour now looks like putting our own fears aside. We’ve seen some rational fears of isolation, some irrational fears of inconvenience at supermarkets, and some downright inexcusable fears of Asian Australians being the ones who carry the disease (like my two young sons sadly witnessed at the beach). All these have to give way to love. Even potentially realistic fears associated with the COVIDSafe app need to, at this time, move toward an other-person centred deeper reality of how humans are made to live together in community, and so work together to see a safer Australia. If we can sign up for Facebook and have Google minis listening in our homes, then in my opinion it is a smaller jump to trust our own government that was voted in by the majority of us to lead us. I downloaded the COVIDSafe app within the first 20 minutes and even then I was only in the first 50,000 downloads of the app. Given that 48 hours later, the app nears 2.5 million downloads, it seems (thankfully) that Australia is getting ready to work together to see this crazy season through i- n the name of love for the other and safety for our families.”