John Cooper, the frontman and bassist for the Grammy-nominated Christian rock band SKILLET, says that he agrees with rapper Nicki Minaj after she expressed concerns this week about getting the COVID-19 vaccine. The rapper tweeted on Monday that she wants to do more research before getting vaccinated and claimed that a friend of her cousin's had experienced adverse effects from it, which health officials have refuted.
Minaj, who has over 22 million Twitter followers, sparked controversy for suggesting the COVID-19 vaccine could cause reproductive issues.
"My cousin in Trinidad won't get the vaccine cuz his friend got it & became impotent. His testicles became swollen," Minaj tweeted. "His friend was weeks away from getting married, now the girl called off the wedding. So just pray on it & make sure you're comfortable with ur decision, not bullied."
Earlier today, the Memphis, Tennessee-born Cooper, who lives in Kenosha, Wisconsin, addressed the Minaj controversy in the latest episode of his "Cooper Stuff" podcast. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Nicki Minaj said something I agree with. And listen, there is a huge price to pay in the entertainment industry, the music industry — celebrities like Nicki Minaj, like SKILLET, in the rock and roll industry — there is a huge price to pay for coming out and saying anything remotely, remotely out of the narrative. And when I say 'the narrative,' that's capital 'T', capital 'N'. The narrative. That is a woke, leftist, authoritarian, 'the science' narrative. And Nicki Minaj didn't even say anything really out of the line. She just didn't speak exactly the narrative. That is the reason this woke movement, I keep telling you guys, is like a religion. She's a heretic now. She has spoken something outside of what you're allowed to say, out of dogma.
"My point isn't to do with the testicles part," he continued. "No idea if that's true or not. That's not what I agree with. What I agree with is, just pray on it and make sure you're comfortable with it, not bullied. Why is that? Because we all know there are side effects, no matter what 'the narrative' tells you, no matter what 'the science' tells you, which all of this stuff is within a religion. In other words, it's religious dogma."
Minaj's tweet immediately sparked global backlash, with several health professionals commenting on her post that the vaccine does not cause testicles to swell. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, also responded to her claims, saying that the COVID vaccine cannot cause reproductive issues.
"I'm not blaming her for anything — but she should be thinking twice about propagating information that really has no basis as except a one-off anecdote, and that's not what science is all about," Fauci told CNN.
Cooper read Fauci's comments about Minaj on "Cooper Stuff" and said: "How do you feel about Doctor Fauci telling you what is good and not good about propagating wrong information? He's been wrong nearly about everything — about everything.
"You've gotta understand, 'the science' is not what we used to think it means," he continued. "It's not scientific data. They're not talking about facts. They're not talking about 'what we know so far' and 'we think this.' And it's a hypothesis, and then we're gonna put that hypothesis to a test.' That's not what they mean by 'the science.' 'The science' is just code basically for 'our political narrative.' That's all it is. 'The science' is just 'this is what we believe is politically right and we're going to look for something to support what we think' whilst censoring everyone else, deplatforming anyone else that disagrees, calling them names — probably like 'racist' and things like that. That's what they mean by 'the science.' And then they say things, 'No, no. We're all agreement.' All that they do is kick everybody out of the scientific community that is not in agreement, so all that you're left with is leftist, authoritarian woke activists for the religion of 'the science.'
"Basically, there's a new religion called 'the science' — it's woke activism, is what it is; leftist authoritarianism, typically now — and Doctor Fauci is the 'high priest' forever; he's the high priest forever," Cooper added. "And whatever he says, well, that's dogma. And it may change tomorrow or the next day. And it won't be based on the science."
Also refuting Minaj's tweets was Trinidad and Tobago Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh, who said at a press conference on Wednesday that officials have "wasted so much time" checking Minaj's claim about her cousin's friend.
"As we stand now, there is absolutely no reported such side effect or adverse event of testicular swelling in Trinidad, or I dare say...none that we know of anywhere else in the world," Deyalsingh said.
Cooper made headlines last month when he said that he had an issue with mask wearing during the COVID-19 pandemic, calling the subject of face coverings "nothing more than theater." He explained: "It is making me jump into an unreality, something that I do not believe, just to acquiesce to either the overlords — overlords meaning government, Big Tech [Editor's note: A name given to the five largest and most dominant companies in the information technology industry of the United States — namely Google (Alphabet), Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft], big business, big media, whatever — to acquiesce to what they want me to do. Even though I know that it's not true, but I'm gonna play the game. And every time I put my mask on, I know that I'm doing something that I do not believe in. In other words, I'm being forced to lie… I'm being forced to jump into something I don't believe, and I'm living by a lie — I'm living by a lie that this mask is actually gonna keep me safe from all harm. To acquiesce to the government, which says that I'm believing something that I know that I don't believe. So now I'm basically living in a fantasy world. That frightens me. And every time I put that mask on, that's basically what I think. I know I'm doing this, I know it's show, I know it's theater, I know my overlords don't even believe in it, because if they did, they wouldn't be breaking all of their own rules."
Wearing face masks and coverings is recommended, or in some places mandatory, in public spaces to help stop the spread of COVID-19. But anti-maskers think government orders requiring face coverings in public spaces or those put in place by private businesses violate their constitutional rights.
Cooper touched upon the constitutional rights argument on a previous episode of "Cooper Stuff", saying: "I can't think of anything in this situation more loving — and I believe in a true biblical sense of the word 'love' — I can't think of anything more loving in this situation than to protect those individual rights. Not because we're a bunch of braggers, not because we don't care about anybody else, but because people fought and bled and died in order for us to have some sort of individual autonomy in the biblical sphere of authority. God gives us these rights. I think it's more loving to protect those rights and fight against the totalitarianism. I'm much more scared of totalitarianism than COVID or cancer, for that matter. Because totalitarianism and tyranny will destroy nations, will destroy cultures. A hundred and fifty million people were killed in the last century from various dictatorships and totalitarianisms and dictators and that sort of thing. I am much more frightened of that, because where you move into is this idea of 'safeism.' And once you move into 'safeism,' when you are willing to trade, 'I will give you my rights, government. I will give you control of my life if you just keep me safe. If you just keep me safe from all harm, I'll give it all over to you.' That's scary. That is a scary, scary place. And mark my words, you will see incredible oppression if people are willing to give up everything they have in order for the government to take care of them."
Fauci, who has served seven presidents since 1984, has been blasted by Republican leaders throughout the coronavirus pandemic, with some of them asking him to resign over his handling of COVID-19.
In recent months, Fauci has responded strongly to growing rightwing criticism and conspiracy theories connected to his handling of COVID-19. He told The New York Times in an interview: "It is essential as a scientist that you evolve your opinion and your recommendations based on the data as it evolves. And that's the reason why I say people who then criticize me about that are actually criticizing science."
He added: "The people who are giving the ad hominems are saying, 'Ah, Fauci misled us. First he said no masks, then he said masks.' Well, let me give you a flash. That's the way science works. You work with the data you have at the time."
With the original strain of the virus, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were about 90% to 95% effective in preventing symptomatic disease. As a result of the delta variant, that efficacy rate has dropped to 66%. Still, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that unvaccinated people are almost five times more likely to contract symptomatic COVID compared to a fully vaccinated person.
Fully vaccinated people are 29 times less likely to be hospitalized because of the virus compared to those are unvaccinated, according to a study released by the CDC.
Research shows that fully vaccinated people experience milder symptoms and are half as likely to develop several symptoms in the first week of illness compared to unvaccinated people.
Various polls have consistently find that Democrats are much more likely to report having been vaccinated than Republicans, and Republicans are much more likely to say that they definitely do not want to get vaccinated.
In various interviews over the years, Cooper has said that he "always had faith in God" and that his mother was a "Jesus fanatic." He also claimed that he was willing to put his career on the line to take a stand for Christ.