Evangelicals’ Vaccine Skepticism Isn’t Coming from the Pulpit

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Conservative pastors and leaders are encouraging the shot while the people in the pews have been more divided.

The president of the Southern Baptist Convention posted a photo on Facebook last week of him getting the COVID-19 vaccine. It drew more than 1,100 comments—many of them voicing admiration for J. D. Greear, and many others assailing him.

Some of the critics wondered if worshippers would now need “vaccine passports” to enter The Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina, where Greear is pastor. Others depicted the vaccines as satanic or unsafe, or suggested Greear was complicit in government propaganda.

The divided reaction highlighted a phenomenon that has become increasingly apparent in recent polls and surveys: Vaccine skepticism is more widespread among white evangelicals than almost any other major bloc of Americans.

In a March poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, just 18 percent of Americans who consider themselves born-again or evangelical have gotten the vaccine, compared to 29 percent of the rest of the population.

The poll found that many white evangelical Protestants aren’t planning on ever getting the shot. Forty percent said they likely won’t get vaccinated, compared with 25 percent of all Americans, 28 percent of white mainline Protestants, and 27 percent of nonwhite Protestants.

40 percent of white evangelical Protestants said they likely won’t get vaccinated, compared with 25 percent of all Americans, 28 percent of white mainline Protestants, and 27 percent of nonwhite Protestants.

The findings have aroused concern even within evangelical circles. The National Association of Evangelicals, which represents more than 45,000 local churches, is part of a new coalition that will host events, work with media outlets and distribute various public messages …

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