Many evangelicals say they will not be vaccinated against Covid-19. Some experts say mistrust and misinformation played a role

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“I’m just going to tell you today, if being anti-mask and anti-vaccine is anti-government, then I’m proud to be anti-government,” Spell, who made a national name for himself in protesting against the rules of Covid-19 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, worshipers at Life Tabernacle Church told.

He goes on to state falsely, “If you have a 99.6% survival rate, why do you want someone to contaminate your bloodstream with something that may or may not hurt you?”

While 95% of evangelical leaders who responded to a January survey by the National Association of Evangelicals said they would be ready for a vaccine, Spell is adamantly opposed. He is among the large number of evangelical Christians who have remained opposed to vaccination against Covid-19.
In a Kaiser Family Foundation poll released last month, 28% of white adults who identify as evangelical Christians said they definitely will not get the vaccine, 6% said they will only get the vaccine when they are ‘they have to, and 15% said they would wait and see.

Sentiment for the Covid vaccine among evangelicals is fueled by a mixture of mistrust of the government, ignorance of how vaccines work, misinformation and political identity, some experts say.

“They (evangelicals) are the group most likely to say they won’t take the vaccine,” Samuel Perry, a sociology professor at the University of Oklahoma who specializes in religion, told CNN. “They have from the start exercised or expressed the most resistance to the vaccine. “

And they’ve maintained that position time and time again in the polls over the past six months, according to Perry.

Misinformation has contributed to evangelical mistrust of vaccines

Among Republicans, white evangelical Christians are more likely than other religious groups to believe certain conspiracy theories, according to a study by the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

“There is a tendency within white Christian nationalism to want to believe these kinds of conspiracies, because I think it reinforces this idea of ​​one us versus them,” Perry said. “The problem is, the people who feed this fear are made to keep stoking that fear because people keep clicking and people keep listening.”

Life Tabernacle Church in Baton Rouge, where the pastor is

Information and information “silos” also play a role in evangelicals’ reluctance to vaccines, who listen to conservative media hosts who question vaccines or outright denounce them, Perry said.

Fox News’s Tucker Carlson, for example, recently wondered if vaccines actually work.

Some at Life Tabernacle Church say they won’t get a vaccine

Spell’s congregation is quite diverse, in part because it carries people from all over town by bus. CDC data shows blacks and Hispanics are about three times more likely than whites to be hospitalized with Covid-19 and about twice as likely to die from the disease.

Although people of color tend to be most at risk for Covid, the pastor said he always discourages vaccines.

“I don’t know anyone in my church, black, brown, Salvadoran, Honduran and Mexican, who has had the virus,” he said. “I do not know anyone.”

Perry said executives like Spell “really bought into the idea that if I keep sowing this narrative where people feel victimized, fearful and angry, I can continue to build my audience, build my own credibility. in that group of people who say, ‘Yeah, not everyone is trustworthy except you.’ ”

At Life Tabernacle Church, a handful of people CNN spoke to said they were not interested in getting the shot.

Jeff Jackson, a parishioner at Life Tabernacle Church, told CNN he believed the vaccines were “harmful to your health.”

Patricia Seal, also a parishioner at Life Tabernacle Church, said as she loved former President Donald Trump, “When he was talking about getting the shot I said, you can have it whatever you want. I do not want it.”

Jacob McMorris, another parishioner at Life Tabernacle Church, said he also did not want to be vaccinated.

“I feel like, and I know it works medically, but when you put something in you to help you stop having it, it just doesn’t work for me,” he said. he told CNN. “I never liked the idea of ​​that.”

Only one person interviewed by CNN, Kerry Williams, said they had received a vaccine. “Yes, I got the vaccine,” he said, noting that he still had to go get his second.

Health expert: 70% of the population must be vaccinated to help control the virus

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the number of Americans who have been vaccinated and who intend to be vaccinated continues to rise, while the number of people who say they want to “wait and see” is declining.

But for the White Evangelicals, the number of those who say they are opposed to getting a Covid vaccine remains high, Perry said, and that can be a problem for some areas, where they make up a much higher percentage of the population. population than nationally.

“We’re going to see consequences in those parts of the country,” Perry said. “And it will be felt by the vulnerable and the elderly.”

Evangelicals make up about 25% of the American population, according to Pew. And some experts say 70% of the population needs to be vaccinated to help control Covid-19.

“This is a highly contagious infection,” Dr. William Schaffner, professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, previously told CNN. “So we predict that in order to really substantially control the disease, we will need to vaccinate around 70% of the population at least, it’s so contagious, that we need a lot of people protected so that the virus cannot find anyone. ‘another to infect. “
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