Elon Musk was a total dud on Saturday Night Live, but the show did still manage to get a few good gags in over the weekend. including a brief dip into American religion and theological praxis on Weekend Update.
SNL head writer, Weekend Update host and Mr. Black Widow Colin Jost correctly noted that white evangelicals are the least likely religious demographic to get vaccinated. This launched a decent shot (“I know you guys wanna get into heaven, but it’s not a race!”) and one of the evening’s few genuinely earned laughs.
Curiously, this well-deserved roast comes right as a few white evangelical leaders are attempting to turn the tide. Rev. Robert Jeffress has spent the last few years making headlines as one of former President Donald Trump’s most vocal defenders. But now, he’s making new kinds of headlines by setting up his Dallas megachurch First Baptist Church as a vaccine clinic on May 16. Dallas residents can register online to get their first Moderna dose at the church, and schedule a followup appointment for the second dose.
“Our church will never be what it needs to be until you’re back. The greater risk is the spiritual danger of staying isolated,” Jeffress told his congregation in a recent sermon, according to Dallas News. “I’m not forcing anybody to get the vaccine. That’s your choice. But what I am saying is if you are not back yet, and would like to come back, one option is to take the vaccine, and therefore you don’t have to worry about what other people do or don’t do here in the church.”
Jeffress told reporters he hopes hosting a vaccination clinic at the church will “change minds” for the vaccine skeptical, and he may be correct. A recent study suggested that vaccine-hesitant Christians would be most likely to submit to the jab if faith leaders got involved in persuading them through things like hosting Q+A’s with medical experts at the church, getting the vaccine themselves and, yes, hosting vaccination clinics at their own house of worship.
Jost’s jokes found their mark but hopefully Jeffress’ efforts can inspire other faith leaders to start doing the hard work of convincing their churches to get vaccinated. Heaven can wait.