It is clear that millions of Christians are using the Covid Crisis as a political weapon. I believe Christian think tanks have blamed Covid-19 for the downfall of Trump and the end of political evangelical ambitions to rule America. I will post on this many times before I make my conclusions. Do Christians own the right to spread Death amongst us? Consider their laws making it impossible for women to have an abortion in Texas. Do non-believers have a right to protect their children – even while in their mother’s wombs?
“Palin, 57, said that her family was diagnosed with the coronavirus after one of her daughters woke up not being able to taste or smell, which is a symptom of the virus. The daughter “immediately had a positive Covid test, then was quarantined in isolation,” Palin said in her statement.”
“In the ensuing months, inoculation numbers have climbed significantly – with a few persistent outliers: among them, white evangelical Christians, whose vaccination refusal rates have remained high even as similar figures for other groups have fluctuated or decreased. The difference underscores how religion has emerged as a key fissure between those who will get the shot and those who refuse.
About 14% of American adults say they won’t get vaccinated under any circumstances as of June, while the number is a much higher 22% among white evangelical Christians, according to a rigorous ongoing survey by KFF, the policy arm of the Kaiser Family Foundation. In fact, the 22% refusal rate was among the highest of any demographic group the foundation measured.
“They don’t see the virus as a major threat to themselves, and they see the vaccine as a greater threat to themselves,” KFF researcher Ashley Kirzinger says. “It doesn’t matter whether they’ve seen someone die from COVID.”
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Anti-vaccination attitudes have long been prevalent in America’s white evangelical community, says Monique Deal Barlow, a research and doctoral candidate at Georgia State University. That anti-vax position, Deal Barlow says, has been incorporated into a conspiratorial, anti-science political view she describes as Christian nationalism.
Some evangelicals have found biblical justifications for their opposition to vaccination, Deal Barlow says. But much of it, she says, stems from a “suspicion of science and the global elite” fed by misinformation and conspiracy theories stoked by right-wing, white supremacist political figures.
“The ways we approach science and the ways we communicate it in our churches has become such a political issue,” she says. “I haven’t seen anything so divisive.”[
Adam Klekowski, executive pastor at Flood Church in San Diego, doesn’t doubt that some among his politically diverse congregation of 700 to 800 are refusing to be vaccinated. He describes his racially mixed but mostly white church as nondenominational and from the evangelical tradition. He’s spoken about his positive experience with the vaccine, and promotes it with a subtle touch out of concern that pressure would divide the church along what amounts to partisan lines.
“Unfortunately,” the 39-year-old pastor says, “something that shouldn’t be political has turned into something that’s political.”
Klekowski says church leaders at Flood Church won’t survey the congregation to determine the vaccination rates. He’d like to, to ease the minds of those reluctant to bring themselves and their children back to in-person services, but knows doing so would be divisive.[
“Because of all the information they’re hearing on the news, you end up with a fight within the church that really feels silly,” Klekowski says. “You’re holding these tensions while trying to guide people toward what we think is true and helpful for them.”
Misinformation about vaccination is a challenge, Klekowski says. But, as he sees it, the bigger problem is the politicization of the vaccine. A medical decision that might otherwise be driven by science has transformed into a question of personal freedom.
“You can have the scientific conversation, but that’s not really what they’re talking about,” he says. “They’re taking it to a different place.”
Klekowski sees personal interactions as the most effective way to nudge those who are adamantly against vaccination toward taking a vaccine. Kirzinger, the KFF researcher, shares that view, in part because nothing else appears to work.
“We really haven’t found a single message or messenger that moves people out of that ‘definitely not’ group,” Kirzinger says.
But mixing between people who’ve been vaccinated and those who are decidedly anti-vaccine is rare, Kirzinger says. In most households, all the adults are either vaccinated or unvaccinated. Social networks are clustered.
Parsing responses from the KFF survey that’s reached 20,000 Americans so far, Kirzinger draws a distinction between those who say they definitely will not take the vaccine and those who said they haven’t because of outstanding concerns.
Some church leaders in other religious communities, notably Black evangelical churches, have pushed their congregations toward vaccination, going as far as to host vaccination clinics and take the vaccine in public.https://bf9cccdf83906f41f21723e8a77dc7d1.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html%5B
“Black adults and Hispanic adults weren’t hesitant about vaccines,” says Kirzinger, KFF’s associate director of public opinion and survey research. “They just had questions.”
At Calvary Temple Baptist Church in Kansas City, Pastor Eric D. Williams promoted COVID-19 testing and, when it became available, vaccination to his mostly Black congregation. Working with other faith leaders, community groups and institutions, he’s also pushed to make the vaccine more accessible to people who struggled to receive proper health care well before the pandemic set in.
The coronavirus was not the first pandemic Williams’ church has faced. Williams recalls a call in the late 1980s from a mortician reporting that a family who’d lost a son to AIDS needed someone to lay him to rest. Williams did and has been searching since for ways to minister to public health issues, including politically divisive ones.
“Similar to now, we really felt that the power of hope can be significant,” Williams says. “We’ve done it with HIV. We’ve done it with diabetes. We’ve done it with mental health. We’ve done it a number of ways. And now we’re continuing that with COVID.”
Williams says he hopes those who share his Christian faith will look to a letter attributed to John, in which the apostle wishes the recipient health “above all things.”
Too often, Williams says, clergy look after the souls but not the bodies of those who fill their churches, mosques, synagogues and temples. He urges those in his profession who’ve chosen silence on vaccination to speak up.
“This is a public health crisis,” he says. “If we don’t address this, our pews will be empty. Those who used to sit in those seats will be dead.”