2021 saw several evangelical personalities die from Covid-19 after downplaying the risks of the disease. White evangelicalism has been tied to the anti-vaccine movement as statistics show that the group is more likely to oppose vaccination mandates.
One problem is the division of religious leaders on the topic. National Religious Broadcasters fired their spokesperson Daniel Darling after he tied the Covid vaccine to love one’s neighbor as they did not want to be seen favoring a “side” of the debate. Until all evangelical leaders come out against denialism, white evangelicals will be at a greater risk of dying.
Columnist Jarvis DeBerry writes:
A personal decision not to take Covid-19 seriously is bad enough. Even worse, though, is a personnel decision to fire those who do. When evangelical Christian radio host Dave Ramsey fired video editor Brad Amos on July 31, Amos responded with a lawsuit against Ramsey Solutions that claims Ramsey thought taking steps to avoid infection showed a “weakness of spirit.” A spokesperson for the company told McClatchy News that Amos was “fired during a meeting to discuss his poor performance with his leaders, where he insulted his most senior leader. He was not terminated for his religious beliefs or how he wanted to handle COVID.”
Weeks later, the National Religious Broadcasters fired spokesperson Daniel Darling after he said in a USA Today op-ed and on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that getting vaccinated was his way of obeying the commandment to love one’s neighbor as oneself. The NRB has stated that on the matter of vaccines, it is “neutral.”
The demands for religious exemptions to Covid-19 vaccination mandates may have Americans convinced that to be religious in America means to be recklessly indifferent to Covid’s dangers. But a December poll from the Public Religion Research Institute finds that at least 60 percent of Jewish Americans, Hispanic Protestants, Hispanic Catholics, white Catholics, Latter-day Saints and “other Christians” believe “there are no valid religious reasons to refuse a vaccine.” The PRRI also finds that at least 50 percent of Black Protestants, other Protestants of color, white mainline Protestants and “other non-Christian religious Americans” share that view.
The only religious groups that disagreed that religion is being wrongly fashioned into an anti-vaccination excuse were white evangelical Protestants and other Protestants of color.