There’s been a good deal of media handwringing about COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among Black Americans, with more than one campaign launching in an attempt to persuade skeptical Black Americans to make sure they get vaccinated. Those fears may or may not have been founded but in any case, a new study from Pew shows that Black Protestants are not actually the least likely faith group in the U.S. to get vaccinated.
That honor goes to White evangelicals. The survey found that 54 percent of White evangelicals “definitely or probably” plan on getting vaccinated, the lowest of any group surveyed. 64 percent of Black Americans will “definitely or probably” get vaccinated, along with 77 percent of Catholics and 71 percent of the religiously unaffiliated. Atheists are actually the most likely to get vaccinated, with 90 percent saying they plan on getting the jab.
More concerning, Religion News noted that white evangelicals are also the least likely group to consider the health effect of their overall community when it comes to getting the vaccine. 48 percent of white evangelicals said they would consider community health effects “a lot” — compared to 70 percent of Black Protestants, 65 percent of Catholics and 68% of unaffiliated Americans.
Experts say there are a few reasons for this. For one, white evangelicals are overwhelmingly Republican, and Republicans are far less likely to get vaccinated than Democrats. According to this survey, 83 percent of Democrats either plan to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or already have been, compared to 56 percent of Republicans.
But evangelicals have a long history of science-skepticism within the U.S. that predates the COVID-19 pandemic by at least a century and some change. This week, Michael Luo wrote a thoughtful piece for the New Yorker about the long, slow spread of anti-intellectualism within evangelicalism.
Tyler Huckabee is RELEVANT's senior editor. He lives in Nashville with his wife, dog and Twitter account.