Why Won’t Evangelicals Get the Vaccine?

"From what I can tell, there are legitimate reasons, debatable reasons, bad reasons, and one good reason why many–though not a majority of conservative Christians don’t want to get the shot.  But there is also a theological reason that needs to be addressed." - Veith

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Bert Perry's picture

....is a big one that I deal with a LOT in my homeschooling circles.  Sheltered from the fear of Polio by over half a century, a lot of theories get traction that otherwise would not.  One big part of it, though, is that the materials I've gotten from pediatricians (from the CDC) are generally cartoon books that don't present the data about what happened to infection and death rates after the first vaccines for these diseases were released.  Hence there is no counter to the fever swamp.

It's also worth noting that the handling of the epidemic is not one that is going to increase confidence in government officials, especially inasmuch as so much bureaucratic behavior for the past five years is at least consistent with "Orange Man Bad, we've got to get rid of him", from the evidence free and years long investigation of the President to Dr. Fauci's refusal to rebuke governors who were sending COVID patients into nursing homes.

If the government truly wants this epidemic ended, they've got to do better than this.  "Trust us, we're the experts" only works when that expertise doesn't have a transparent political bias.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Mark_Smith's picture

"Why Won't Evangelicals Get the Vaccine?"

This implies all 100% of evangelicals reject the vaccine. Not the case at all. This is the problem we have right now. Too many people are making broad claims and assumptions. The article should be "Why Won't Some Evangelicals Get the Vaccine?"

Aaron Blumer's picture


Headlines are always compressed. That said, yeah, they could have done better. "Why Are So Many Evangelicals Hesitant...?" would have been better.

Reminds of the very common headline species: "Scientists say..."  How many scientists? If you think about it, only two are necessarily to make the claim accurate. But that's not how people read those. Same thing with "Why Won't Evangelicals..." You only need two to make 'Evangelical'  into 'Evangelicals,' so--it's quite accurate language. But misleading because of how people read these things.

My advice to consumers of media has been to never believe a headline. See what's in the story. In this case, there's plenty of data suggesting quite a lot of evangelicals are somewhere between "very hesitant" and "absolutely no way."

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

TylerR's picture


I just watched a UK news show which discussed a particular minority group in the UK that is heavily vaccine-adverse. Which group? Poles.


Because Poles have had such a hard go of it in the past century + that they simply don't trust any government at all. The UK is having a problem convincing members of the ethnic group to trust them enough to come out and get vaccinated. They're suspicious, and 80 years of communist rule doesn't help.

Different subcultures have their own reasons for vaccine skepticism, most of them complicated and predicated on a lot of baggage from some bad experiences.

Perhaps it would be easier if we considered "evangelical" to be a sociological category, rather than an ideological one. I know nobody really wants to do that, but maybe it's a better framework for understanding the label.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

dcbii's picture


TylerR wrote:

Different subcultures have their own reasons for vaccine skepticism, most of them complicated and predicated on a lot of baggage from some bad experiences.

Not all things learned the hard way from past experience can simply be chalked up as "baggage," even though some who think themselves more enlightened will often try to reduce the argument to those terms, in order to make it easier to argue against.  I'm not saying "baggage thinking" doesn't happen, but anyone in authority who tries to dismiss certain reasoned skepticism as such is doing themselves no favors, and is not reaching the target audience.  I haven't heard of such yet, but if any government makes this vaccine mandatory, the resistance will go up, rather than down, among some groups, especially those, like the Poles, who have a long history with dictatorial governments.

Dave Barnhart

Mark_Smith's picture

I fully understand not trusting your government. Especially for someone like the Poles, or people south of the border, with really bad histories with government.

But what do people think the vaccine does if not prevent COVID19? I've read articles saying it has a microchip. A microchip? They don't need a microchip to track you! Your phone. They got you. Your credit card. Your debit card. Your bank account if you withdraw cash. Many cars have GPS. Shoot, even cameras record large parts of large cities. Do people think they can alter your mind with some chemical? 

Others have said its an attempt to reduce fertility. Just seems weird. If you wanted to do that you'd better start in China, India, and Africa before you worry about Europe, Japan, and the Estados Unidos.

Some of this is just wacky. And wacky is hard to fix.

dcbii's picture


Mark_Smith wrote:

Some of this is just wacky. And wacky is hard to fix.

You're right.  Wacky is hard to fix.  But that's not the only thing behind vaccine skepticism.  What is significantly *less* wacky is the (true) contention that the vaccines haven't had sufficient long-term or even shorter-term testing to be able to adequately determine their overall safety over time.  Just look at the history of approved treatments (even just in the U.S.) that have not shown their insidious side effects until much later.

Is there a big long-term risk with the Covid vaccines, particularly the mRNA versions?  Personally, I'm doubting it.  But I have no evidence or assurance.  And neither does anyone else, since the longest anyone, even those willing to be guinea pigs, has had a version of the vaccine is not even a year yet.  That fact alone is enough to engender a healthy level of skepticism that won't be overcome by assertions that "We guarantee it's safe!" or calling people's reasoned reluctance "wacky," "unreasonable," or "baggage."

Dave Barnhart

Larry's picture


For many it is probably as simple as this vaccine being relatively untested vs. a virus that is highly survivable. That's not nearly as accusatory as conspiracy theory and micro chips but it is probably more likely. 

someone should research whether people who are refusing the covid vaccine are the same people who normally don't get a flu shot. My guess is the number is probably similar.

M. Osborne's picture

What Larry said--that the vaccine is relatively untested and the virus not particularly risky to my family--was among my first reasons for being hesitant. The government itself creates the impression of the risk of vaccines-gone-bad by the ordinarily long amounts of time to get the proper approvals.

I actually had reason to pause when I read Thomas Sowell over the summer (I think this was Basic Economics), where he argued that many of the steps in getting a vaccine approved are bureaucracy that could cost lives. It made me consider that the "fast track" for the COVID vaccine may not be as excessively fast as I thought. Not that I have direct experience with how long that stuff does take, should take, etc.


Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA