By now, we know all too well that many people who refuse to get vaccinated (or wear masks or respect quarantine and social distancing recommendations) are white evangelical Christians. 26% of them, according to one survey, say they will never get a COVID shot while an additional 28% are hesitant about it.
In addition to putting immunocompromised people at risk — as if that alone isn’t bad enough — their general anti-vax attitude is causing division within families. Writing for Religion Dispatches, Chrissy Stroop writes about hearing stories from evangelicals who won’t attend weddings or funerals and who also refuse to let unvaccinated relatives visit their grandchildren. It’s not always in one direction either; sometimes, it’s the parents begging the kids to get vaccinated or they can’t visit.
Stroop also says some churches are split over this issue, with some pro-vaccination pastors fearing their jobs might be in jeopardy if they encourage the congregation to take that responsible step.
This is based on a tweet requesting stories — and the responses will both infuriate you and break your heart.
Do you have evangelical relatives who refuse to get vaccinated against COVID?
If so, do they even claim to be afraid of being near vaccinated people because they think they'll get sick?
Please share what they're saying in the replies, and where they're getting it, if you know
— Chrissy is fully vaccinated (@C_Stroop) May 10, 2021
It’s cropped up around a memorial service planned for this summer. I’m not in the middle of it, but hearing about fights between the “don’t come if you’re not vaccinated” and “how dare you infect me with your vaccination” camps. They’re all EC, but the younger ones are pro-vax.
— Bill “Cat Valet” Cameron (@bcmystery) May 10, 2021
Evangelical relative in *med* school isn't getting a vax b/c her husband doesn't want her to and he's "head of the household." Husband's reasons are typical Covid hoax BS. �
— allthethoughts (@alltheth0ughts) May 10, 2021
Stories like this highlight how the radical politicization of the coronavirus pandemic on the right has added so much stress to reasonable Americans’ lives over the past year and counting. And, while rearguard efforts like the [National Association of Evangelicals]-sponsored “Christians and the Vaccine” initiative may make a dent in the proportion of evangelical vaccine refusers, they won’t even begin to solve the underlying problem of widespread willful ignorance and paranoid, conspiratorial thinking among conservative evangelicals…
This is not an issue where two differing opinions can be equally valid. One side is backed by science; the other is backed by conspiracy theorists, FOX News primetime hosts, and various YouTube influencers. That ignorance is a major reason why the United States can’t reach herd immunity.
While there are undoubtedly some prominent evangelicals who have encouraged vaccinations — Franklin Graham among them — there need to be many more leaders in the evangelical world willing to tell their congregations the truth about the vaccines instead of fueling their paranoia.
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