Protestants & Politics 4/9/21

Evangelicals and Covid vaccine; QAnon, New Age spirituality, and evangelicals; pandemic, religion and mental health; conspiracy theories and faith groups; IRF Summit 2021

Evangelicals and Covid Vaccine

White Evangelical Resistance Is Obstacle in Vaccination Effort

The opposition is rooted in a mix of religious faith and a longstanding wariness of mainstream science, and it is fueled by broader cultural distrust of institutions and gravitation to online conspiracy theories. The sheer size of the community poses a major problem for the country’s ability to recover from a pandemic that has resulted in the deaths of half a million Americans. And evangelical ideas and instincts have a way of spreading, even internationally.

There are about 41 million white evangelical adults in the U.S. About 45 percent said in late February that they would not get vaccinated against Covid-19, making them among the least likely demographic groups to do so, according to the Pew Research Center.

“If we can’t get a significant number of white evangelicals to come around on this, the pandemic is going to last much longer than it needs to,” said Jamie Aten, founder and executive director of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College, an evangelical institution in Illinois.

'Love Your Neighbor' And Get The Shot: White Evangelical Leaders Push COVID Vaccines

Several national evangelical leaders also are speaking out in support of vaccination, including the Rev. Franklin Graham, son of the late Rev. Billy Graham. Graham's charity, Samaritan's Purse, set up several field hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients around the world.

"We have seen firsthand — at least I have — what coronavirus can do to a person," Graham told NPR. "It's frightening, and you don't want it."

After posting on Facebook about his decision to get the Moderna vaccine, Graham received thousands of comments — some showing support but many expressing outrage, calling Graham a false prophet, among other things.

Why "the pathway to ending the pandemic runs through the evangelical church"

Curtis Chang, a former senior pastor who's now a Duke Divinity School consulting professor and runs his own consulting firm working with public health entities and nonprofits, has created a project called Christians and the Vaccine. His website offers scientific information on the vaccine from a biblical perspective, in bite-sized, shareable videos to reach evangelicals who aren't being persuaded by public health officials. 

"The message I've been trying to get to secular public health officials is very simple — it's that the pathway to ending the pandemic runs through the evangelical church. I mean, it's just undeniable statistically," Chang said in a phone interview with CBS News. "And public health has got to start investing resources and energy to equip evangelicals to be the ones out there trying to convince their fellow brothers and sisters."

Pastor reveals the reasons behind COVID vaccine hesitancy in the evangelical community

John Yang:

From what you can tell, this skepticism among — that the polling is capturing among people who identify as white evangelicals, does this have anything to do with religious beliefs?

Russell Moore:

No, this doesn't have anything to do with religious beliefs.

It's instead about the mistrust and distrust that's evident in American society right now. And, plus, I think some of it has to do with the fact that we have been isolated from one another in lots of ways for over a year. And much of the way that misinformation and disinformation gets combated is with people in conversation with one another.

And that's why lots of us are doing what we can to say, vaccination is not only something that's acceptable for Christians; it's something we ought to thank God that we have the technology for, because it's going to get us back to doing the things that we need to do quicker.

Pew Research Center

Podcast: Curtis Chang and Julie Zauzmer: Christians and the Vaccine

Website: Christians and the Vaccine

Should I take the COVID vaccine?

This is a question that everyone must answer for themselves.

For some Christians, this question runs into a particular set of roadblocks. These are serious issues, and they deserve a thoughtful and biblical response.

We have gathered as a coalition to provide information about the vaccine from trusted Christian voices. We make the case that Christians should take the vaccine. But as important as the action itself is, we believe the decision making process matters just as much.


QAnon, New Age spirituality, and evangelicals

QAnon’s Unexpected Roots in New Age Spirituality

“The wellness and spirituality world is very parallel to the evangelical Christian world, especially when it comes to the messaging around masculinity,” Leek explains. “The mythopoetic aspect of the men’s movement is very much rooted in patriarchal notions of chivalry and men as protectors and warriors. Evangelical masculinity is basically identical.” He wasn’t surprised to see the QAnon Shaman beside evangelical groups at the Capitol. QAnon, with its fixation on pedophilic conspiracies led by Hollywood and the liberal elite, can give a certain kind of man in search of purpose a way to feel like a literal protector.


Research

Religion Protected Mental Health but Constrained Crisis Response During Crucial Early Days of the COVID-19 Pandemic

This study demonstrates that religion protected mental health but constrained support for crisis response during the crucial early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Data from a national probability-based sample of the U.S. population show that highly religious individuals and evangelicals suffered less distress in March 2020. They were also less likely to see the coronavirus outbreak as a crisis and less likely to support public health restrictions to limit the spread of the virus. The conservative politicization of religion in the United States can help explain why religious Americans (and evangelicals in particular) experienced less distress and were less likely to back public health efforts to contain the virus. We conclude that religion can be a source of comfort and strength in times of crisis, but—at least in the case of the COVID-19 pandemic—it can also undercut efforts to end the root causes of suffering.

Related: Religion follows patterns of politicization during COVID-19


Video

Conspiracy Theories & Faith Groups


Events

Barnes Symposium 2021

Rudy Barnes Sr. Symposium at the University of South Carolina

Speaker: Michael Wear
Title: The People Our Politics Needs

Abstract: How should Christians think about political participation, and what do they have to offer our politics as a whole? In this lecture, Michael Wear will argue that we have failed to take Christian ideas as seriously as the Christian account of reality requires when it comes to politics. He will address how Christians ought to think about politics, and how political participation which flows from such an understanding would improve our politics.

Apr 15, 2021 07:00 PM Eastern

Justice Talks: Our Global Connection

Join Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, General Secretary of the General Board of Church and Society, for a special conversation about our United Methodist witness at the United Nations and around the world.

Church and Society leaders will discuss how we are advocating for peace and justice on a global scale.

Apr 28, 2021 04:00 PM Eastern

Inaugural Convening of the Premier Annual Religious Freedom Summit in the U.S.

The IRF Summit 2021 will bring together a broad coalition that passionately supports religious freedom around the globe for a three day in person event in Washington D.C., July 13th – July 15th, with a virtual option for participation.