I grew up in a Southern Baptist church, but it was a Southern Baptist church full of Asians. So while we waited eagerly to be Raptured and learned to hate gay people while on the earthly plane, we also generally believed in sound medical practices and doing our best to not die until God wanted us to die. My mom, one of the most devout people I know, signed up for the covid-19 vaccine as soon as she was eligible, thank the blessed Lord!
Unfortunately it turns out a large number of white evangelical Christians have a different take on the covid-19 vaccine—they don’t want it.
According to a Pew survey conducted in February, 45 percent of white evangelicals reported that they “definitely” or “probably” won’t get vaccinated against covid-19, a far higher percentage than any other religious group surveyed. This certainly tracks with other surveys!
The New York Times investigated why white evangelical Christians are so unwilling to prevent their own potential deaths, let alone the deaths of others, and their “reasons” are exactly what one might expect. Via the New York Times:
Stephanie Nana, an evangelical Christian in Edmond, Okla., refused to get a Covid-19 vaccine because she believed it contained “aborted cell tissue.”
Nathan French, who leads a nondenominational ministry in Tacoma, Wash., said he received a divine message that God was the ultimate healer and deliverer: “The vaccine is not the savior.”
Lauri Armstrong, a Bible-believing nutritionist outside of Dallas, said she did not need the vaccine because God designed the body to heal itself, if given the right nutrients. More than that, she said, “It would be God’s will if I am here or if I am not here.”
While public health experts are attempting to encourage white evangelicals to get inoculated, in part by dispelling myths that the covid-19 vaccine is the Mark of the Beast, they have an uphill battle, given how poisoned white evangelicals have been by Republican politics and rightwing media. According to one pastor, Joel Rainey, other pastors he knows have been, as the Times put it, “forced out of their churches after promoting health and vaccination guidelines.”
All of this worries Jamie Aten, the head of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute at the evangelical Wheaton College. “If we can’t get a significant number of white evangelicals to come around on this, the pandemic is going to last much longer than it needs to,” Aten told the Times.
White evangelical Christians fucking shit up for the rest of us—what else is new!