Should Pastors Speak Up About the COVID-19 Vaccine?

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With Christians split on the issue, some urge vaccination as a form of neighborly love, while others leave it up to conscience.

About half of US Protestant adults don’t plan to receive the new COVID-19 vaccine, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey.

While confidence in the vaccine has actually risen since September—three companies announced viable vaccines last month—50 percent of white evangelicals and 59 percent of black Protestants say they won’t get the vaccine, while the majority of the US population overall (60%) says they will.

For centuries, religion and medicine have collaborated for the prevention of disease, though the relationship at times has been complex. In more recent years, public health professionals have relied on church leaders’ support—particularly in communities of color—to gain trust in promoting health initiatives. The coronavirus pandemic has become another example of the complex relationship between faith and science.

Given the split among Christians, how should pastors engage with their congregants about the COVID-19 vaccine? Should they encourage church attenders to receive the vaccine?

CT heard from five pastors about how factors like race, theology, and congregational makeup affect their approach to the issue.

Jeff Schultz, pastor of preaching and community at Faith Church in Indianapolis

Our church been praying for vaccine research and development, but taking a vaccine is not something we would direct people on.

Our congregation has a number of doctors, nurses, medical researchers, and people in pharmaceutical development. We believe that God works through miraculous intervention, but more commonly through our work, gifts, and wisdom applied in service to others. We’ve encouraged people to wear masks and practice social distancing. We have members who won’t return …

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