There has been a lot of media coverage of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among Black Americans, with more than one campaign launched to try to persuade skeptical Black Americans to make sure they get vaccinated. These fears may or may not be justified, but in any case, a new study by Bench shows that black Protestants aren’t actually the least likely religious group to get vaccinated in the United States.
That honor belongs to white evangelicals. The survey found that 54% of white evangelicals “definitely or probably” plan to get vaccinated, the lowest of any group surveyed. 64% of black Americans will “definitely or probably” be vaccinated, along with 77% of Catholics and 71% of those unaffiliated with a religion. Atheists are actually the most likely to get vaccinated, with 90% saying they plan to get vaccinated.
More worryingly, Religion News noted that white evangelicals are also the group least likely to consider the effect on the health of their community as a whole when it comes to getting vaccinated. 48% of white evangelicals said they would consider community health effects “a lot” — compared to 70% of black Protestants, 65% of Catholics and 68% of unaffiliated Americans.
Experts say there are several reasons for this. For one thing, white evangelicals are overwhelmingly Republicans, and Republicans are much less likely to get vaccinated than Democrats. According to this survey, 83% of Democrats plan to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or have already been vaccinated, compared to 56% of Republicans.
But evangelicals have a long history of scientific skepticism in the United States that predates the COVID-19 pandemic by at least a century and some changes. This week, Michael Luo wrote a thoughtful piece for the New Yorker about the long, slow spread of anti-intellectualism within evangelicalism.