Do religious preferences affect vaccine opinions?

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PRINCETON, Ky. (WEHT) – While thirty-two percent of the U.S. population has now been fully vaccinated, organizations continue ramping up on vaccination sites. Many of those being held at churches.

How are those slots filling up and do religious preferences have anything to do with a person’s choice on whether or not to get the vaccine?

Some of the latest data shows that about half of white evangelicals say they’re somewhat unlikely or very unlikely to get the vaccine.

On Tuesday, Central Presbyterian Church in Princeton, Kentucky hosted a mobile vaccine clinic where twenty people came through. In addition to Princeton, mobile units were also held in Madisonville and Henderson.

“We have a family here that just lost their son who’s not a member of this church, but lost his son to Covid. And he was 54-years-old. And it was just very hard for us as a church that he has been here many times to sing for us for years. And it’s when we found out about this opportunity, it just seemed like that it was a good faith response for us to bring in this mobile unit,” said Donna Webster, a pastor at Central Presbyterian.

Pastor Ryan Burge of First Baptist Church says pastors need to be actively encouraging the congregation to get the vaccine — even when met with some hesitancy.

Burge says some Christians believe the vaccine is the mark of the beast — but he mostly attributes vaccine doubts to politics.

“We’re seeing resistance amongst Evangelicals, but it’s Evangelicals, younger Evangelicals, specifically, but also male Evangelicals are experiencing a lot of resistance to right now. And obviously, a lot of this is tied up with politics, because 80% of white Evangelicals identify as Republicans. And we know that Republicans have always resisted the vaccine from the very beginning, for a variety of reasons.

“The way I look at scripture, there is no necessary mandate upon anyone to take a vaccine or a mandate upon anyone if they feel like that they don’t want to take a vaccine. There’s a passage in Corinthians that talks about that, we need to consider others and to put ourselves in a position of what is the expectation of those that are in our culture, those that are in our society, you know, and I think, at least for a pastor, the expectation on me from culture and society is that I do everything that I can, to set the example,” said Pastor Rick Hillard.

One member of a Baptist Church in Princeton, Kentucky is potentially at risk everyday with customers in and out of the convenient store she works in. She says she won’t be getting the vaccine.

“I don’t see the need and getting one. Because I’m not…I don’t know, it’s like propaganda to me. I just think it’s the government trying to control the people,” said Taylor Taylor.

“There are some who have encouraged me, you know, you shouldn’t wear the mask. And I can think of a couple families that have distanced themselves from that because I’ve not been wanting to take a position nor about let First Baptist Church take a position in regard to Coronavirus,” said Hillard.

“It’s the greatest commandment. So let’s fight about the other things, but loving your neighbor,” said Webster.

FEMA teamed up with Wild Health for the mobile vaccination site in Princeton.

To date, they have administered over seventy-thousand vaccinations across the state of Kentucky.

(This story was originally published May 5, 2021)

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