t Pastor Tony Spell’s Sunday sermon this week, he preached a different kind of message than usual to his congregants: Don’t trust Covid-19 vaccines.”I’ll just tell you today, if being anti-mask and anti-vaccine is anti-government, then I’m proud to be anti-government,” Spell, who has made a national name for himself protesting Covid-19 rules in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, told Life Tabernacle Church congregants.He goes on to falsely state: “If you have a 99.6% survival rate, why do you want somebody to contaminate your bloodstream with something that may or may not hurt you?”Health experts in the US and beyond agree that Covid-19 vaccines continue to be safe and highly effective at preventing Covid-19 infection, which has killed more than 560,000 Americans and infected more than 31 million.
The anti-Covid vaccine sentiment among Evangelicals is fed by a mixture of distrust in government, ignorance about how vaccines work, misinformation and political identity, some experts say.”They (Evangelicals) are the group that is the most likely to say that they are not going to take the vaccine,” Samuel Perry, a sociology professor at University of Oklahoma who specializes in religion, told CNN. “They have from the beginning exercised or expressed the most resistance to the vaccine.”And they have maintained that stance over and over in surveys in the last six months, according to Perry.
Misinformation has contributed to Evangelicals distrust in vaccine
Among Republicans, White Evangelical Christians are more likely than other religious groups to believe in certain conspiracy theories, according to a study by the conservative American Enterprise Institute.”There is a tendency within White Christian nationalism, to want to believe these kinds of conspiracies, because I think it reinforces this idea of an us versus them,” Perry said. “The problem is, the people who are feeding that fear, have an incentive to keep stoking that fear because people keep clicking, and people keep listening.”
News and information “silos” are also playing a part in vaccine hesitancy among Evangelicals, who listen to conservative media hosts who question the vaccines or outright denounce them, Perry said.Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, for example, recently questioned whether the vaccines actually work.
Some at Life Tabernacle Church say they won’t get vaccine
Spell’s congregation is fairly diverse, in part because he buses in people from all over town. CDC data shows that Black and Hispanic people are about three times more likely than White people to be hospitalized with Covid-19 and about twice as likely to die from the disease.Though people of color tend to be most at risk for Covid, the pastor said he still discourages vaccines.”I don’t know anybody in my church, Black, brown, El Salvadorean and Honduran and Mexican, who had the virus,” he said. “I don’t know anybody.”Perry said leaders like Spell “have really bought into this idea that if I continue to, to sow this narrative where people feel victimized and fearful and angry, I can continue to build my audience, build my own credibility in this group of people that says, ‘Yeah, everybody else is untrustworthy but you.'”
Anybody else think these ignorant poorly educated “Evangelicals” are begging to know Darwin’s Law up close and personal? How concerned should sane people be about self-inflicted culling?