Can the Faithful Provide a Lifeline to Ocugen?

The no-longer novel coronavirus pandemic has impacted everyone in ways both subtle and more pronounced. For me, I’ve been out of the loop regarding my social networks. Therefore, I was greatly saddened to hear about a rather high-profile passing. At the same time, the possible lessons learned could be useful for Ocugen (NASDAQ:OCGN) stock.

Smartphone with logo of US biopharmaceutical company Ocugen Inc (OCGN) on screen in front of website Focus on left of phone display
Source: Wirestock Creators / Shutterstock.com

As some of you may know, Pastor Ray Bentley of the San Diego-based Maranatha Chapel tragically passed due to complications of Covid-19. According to the church’s statement and republished by Newsweek, “We are all in shock and heart-broken.” It implied that the terrible disclosure came as a surprise, an incident no one had even thought about.

Although I didn’t know him that well, I will be forever grateful in how the pastor handled the memorial service of one of my colleagues, who succumbed to his own hands. Some faith-based organizations can be brutally callous when presiding over the issue of self-harm. Instead, Bentley demonstrated incredible grace and mercy in the face of so much anguish.

I mention this because the stories you may come across about Bentley’s character are 100% genuine. He was a good man.

A Time for Leadership

Having at least shaped some of my views on faith and spirituality, I think Bentley would appreciate one of the underlying messages behind Luke 24:5. Believers should not dwell on past events but look forward to and prepare for future endeavors. And this relates to OCGN stock because religion, no matter what it may be, has a serious influence on the congregants of various houses of worship.

Perusing online discussions about Bentley, I saw some exhortations about not politicizing his passing. I agree. Bentley hinted that he votes Republican but that’s almost like saying the pope is Catholic. At the end of the day, he could have voted for a cardboard box to be president. I honestly don’t care.

However, it was clear that the exhortation was not about politics but rather, to stifle any discussion about Covid-19 vaccines. I found this to be unfortunate because in the early days of the pandemic, some pastors from Calvary Chapel-inspired non-denominational evangelicalism – a similar theological school of thought that reared Bentley – subtly alluded to the conspiracy theory of a “plandemic.”

To be fair, some churches wised up but also, some did not. Moreover, notable pastors, such as Todd Friel of Wretched TV and Radio, took a lukewarm stance on vaccination, providing pros and cons but ultimately no overt direction, leaving many Christians confused.

Regrettably, the cult-of-personality-like aura surrounding even the most well-meaning megachurches allows pastors to preach relentlessly from the pulpit, knowing full well that most of their congregants probably don’t even read the Bible. Because your average evangelical Christian uncritically receives teachings from scriptures and current events, ingrained fears of the antichrist and the mark of the beast undoubtedly stymied distribution of medical facts.

For the sake of the elderly and vulnerable believers, it’s time for the evangelical leadership to render to the faith what belongs to the faith and leave the science for the scientists. Should that occur, OCGN stock could get more interesting.

OCGN Stock and the Proven Platform

While the development and distribution of messenger-RNA vaccines represents one of the most groundbreaking works in biotechnology, the newness factor – even though it’s technically not that new – has understandably caused many folks to be hesitant.

Scientifically, then, that’s where OCGN stock has the upper hand. Ocugen is the co-developer of Covaxin, a whole-virion inactivated Covid-19 vaccine. You can read more about the approach from the World Health Organization’s website. But for our purposes, it’s mostly important to note that this methodology has a track record.

Therefore, it’s possible that Covaxin could reach those that are not completely anti-vaccine but rather anti-new-technology-based vaccine. If that’s the argument, Covaxin could be a viable solution, assuming it gains regulatory traction. Over the long run, as evangelicals potentially ground their medical issues with doctors as opposed to human interpretations of ancient texts, Covaxin might enter a market that is more addressable.

To be upfront, OCGN stock is terribly risky and you should only gamble with money you can afford to lose. Having said that, the loss of Bentley is a kick in the gut for evangelicalism. To my knowledge, no one knows whether Bentley was vaccinated or not. And I don’t know where he stood on the issue of vaccination in general.

But his passing is such that it’s a wake-up call, not just for responding to Covid-19 but for any health-related issue. If providence did not protect Bentley, then how would we mere mortals fare? To me, the logical conclusion is that we should use the brain given us – and most importantly for the immuno-compromised, to not test the faith as per Deuteronomy 6:16.

Lasting Legacy

No matter how the Covid-19 pandemic plays out and no matter the broader evangelical response to the crisis, the passing of Ray Bentley will be marked with deep sadness. I said he was a good man and I really, truly mean it. This hurting world has lost a great ambassador for the faith.

At the same time, his passing should spark a respectful discussion about the Christian response to health threats. We have brutally learned that the rain falls on the righteous and the unrighteous. But we also learned that nothing in the faith prevents us from opening an umbrella.

So I do hope that Bentley’s legacy – as bright as it may be – will spark one more positive: to encourage the medically vulnerable to seek professional (and not just theological) guidance. Knowing what I know through personal interaction with Pastor Bentley, I think he will be honored by that.

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On the date of publication, Josh Enomoto did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

A former senior business analyst for Sony Electronics, Josh Enomoto has helped broker major contracts with Fortune Global 500 companies. Over the past several years, he has delivered unique, critical insights for the investment markets, as well as various other industries including legal, construction management, and healthcare.


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