Since I post a lot on this site about conservative Christians who have deranged ideas for why people should avoid the COVID vaccine, it’s worth pointing out that a lot of religious leaders are in fact urging their congregations to do the right thing. They’re encouraging everyone to get their shots — and they’re using scripture to make their point, in case that’s what their members need to hear.
The New York Times has the story:
… But clergy members who believe in the importance of vaccines are uniquely positioned to counter those [anti-vaxxer] claims. Pope Francis himself declared that coronavirus shots are “morally acceptable” because of the severity of the pandemic and the remoteness of the connection to the aborted fetus. With Ramadan approaching next month, imams have been holding Facebook Live chats with Muslim doctors, organized around questions like, “Is the Covid-19 Vaccine Halal?”
As the piece makes clear, this sort of faith-based encouragement shouldn’t be discounted. Many Americans trust religious leaders a lot more than they trust politicians or scientists. That’s a problem on its own, but it also means those religious leaders have an important role to play in amplifying the scientists’ message.
Given that religious communities are less likely to want the shot than secular ones, responsible pastors, rabbis, imams, etc. need to make sure their followers aren’t part of the problem.
And when this is all over, I hope they all step back and figure out why their communities needed the extra boost. Why didn’t they trust the scientists? Why didn’t they listen to the voices of reason? If these faith leaders can’t fix that problem, religious believers will continue to hurt us during the next pandemic.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Jim for the link)