I have an acquaintance, John, that I have known for a number of years. John and myself are both a part of a social media group made up of a number of friends and mutual friends. Recently I had a falling out with John because I was attempting to persuade him to take up a vaccination that he, and those around him, would highly benefit from. The conversation went along the following lines:
Friend #2: What have you been up to recently?
Me: I recently got my second vaccination for XYZ.
Friend #2: Oh cool!
Me: Have either of you been offered one yet?
Friend #2: No I haven't been offered yet.
John: I was offered it, but I turned it down.
Me: How come?
John: Because of [reasons related to use of abortion cells in some vaccines from >40 years ago that clashed with his catholic beliefs]
Me: Well John, look, I don't think that's entirely true, if you give me a few minutes, let me see what I can find, because that's not my understanding of vaccines.
I then went on to find several articles, written from trustworthy news and medical sources (eg- BBC, WHO, the BMJ), and then sent them in the group chat so that everyone could see. At this point the conversation seemed to take a turn for the worse, as when I asked John "has any of this changed your mind about taking this vaccine?", he responded with "No it hasn't", coming across in a somewhat defensive tone.
I should highlight that I respect his religious views, but I saw that he seemed mis-informed about the vaccine process and what was involved. Looking back I now see that I may have come across as pushy in attempting to persuade him. All of the above happened in a call on the social media group, the second friend (friend #2) being present but silent throughout the conversation.
The next day, I received a message from John along the following lines:
I don't want to discuss that topic with you again. I felt that you were wanting to change my opinion of receiving this vaccine.... This is not the first time that you have attempted to push your opinions on others just because they may not be educated...[accusation of bullying]... If you continue to treat others this way, you will find that I won't be as friendly/open/friend-like towards you.
I send a response that day that apologised for my actions and I asked if we could make amends, which there was not a reply to. I should highlight that being accused of bullying behaviour is news to myself - I have never been accused of it by any other acquaintance or friend. I should also mention that I am a christian (but not a Catholic), and this was not meant to come across as an attack on his religious views, but rather as a suggestion to reconsider his views on this vaccine that would protect not just himself, but those around him from infection (a point that was highlighted in the conversation, but seemed to be lost in talk.) During the conversation I attempted to keep my cool for most of the conversation, leaving the online call for a minute so I would not express my frustration at John.
I have since deleted most of the articles, left the social media group, deleted the apology message and unfriended John, and distanced myself from that group of friends (because as far as I see it, I don't wish to be accused of being something that I'm not.) Is there any way I could salvage this friendship?