According to a Pew Research study, white evangelicals are the least likely to get the COVID-19 vaccine. There are a lot of reasons for this. As I told Yonat Shimron of Religion News Service earlier this month, there is a long history of anti-science within American evangelicalism. Some evangelicals believe that the vaccine contains aborted fetal cells. Still others believe that the vaccine contains trackable microchips that will enable Bill Gates to keep an eye on them at all times. The Gates microchip conspiracy theory meshes very well with the belief, popular among some evangelicals, that the microchip is the “mark of the beast” and will thus enable the Antichrist to build his one-world-empire.
Many television pundits and opinion journalists called on Donald Trump to make a public statement encouraging his followers to take the vaccine. He did that last night on Fox News.
But a case could be made that these pundits and commentators, and even Trump himself, underestimate the anti-vaccine wing of American evangelicalism.
Last month I watched the coverage of Trump’s speech at CPAC on a pro-Trump streaming network called the Right Side Broadcasting Network. As Trump spoke, Right Side Broadcasting hosted a comment section to the right of its video feed. It was filled with a steady stream of comments from Trump supporters singing the praises of the former president as he served red meat to his CPAC sycophants in an Orlando hotel. But then something happened that caught my attention. As Trump started bragging about the role he played in the creation of the vaccines, the comment section went negative. Though few people turned against Trump, they did turn against the vaccine.
You Tube removed the Right Side News video of the speech because it violated the site’s community guidelines, but I did capture this anti-vaxxer sentiment in a tweet:
Not even Trump, it seems, could convince these folks to consider taking the COVID-19 vaccine.
Perhaps Franklin Graham can do a better job. He encourages people to take the vaccine at around the 9:00 minute mark of the following ABC story. (It also includes an evangelical pastor who is an anti-vaxxer). But I wonder, do any conservative evangelicals watch ABC news any more? 🙂