Could invoking the golden rule be enough to get people of faith skeptical of vaccines to finally get their COVID-19 vaccine? According to some new poll data, this may well be the case.
A recent survey of 5,123 adults by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Interfaith Youth Core found that nearly four immunization-hesitant Americans (38%) who attend religious services at least a few times a year said that one or more of the approaches would make them more likely to get the vaccine.
And, at the end of the day, when you tell people that getting the vaccine allows them to live one of the fundamental tenets of Christianity – to love their neighbor as themselves – the message tends to resonate. And it resonates across faith groups and demographics.
For example, four in 10 Hispanic Protestants vaccinated and three in 10 Black Protestants vaccinated were more likely to say that one or more faith-based approaches convinced them to get their jab, according to the survey.
And more than three in ten White Catholics hesitant about vaccination told pollsters that a faith-based approach could encourage them to get vaccinated, up from 15% earlier in the year, according to the poll. Specifically, more than two-thirds of Hispanic Catholics viewed vaccination as an example of love for their neighbor, up from 55% in a similar poll in March. More than six in 10 Hispanic Protestants responded similarly, up from 49% in March.
A clear majority of White Protestants and White Catholics (58% each, respectively) also responded similarly, according to the poll. Fifty-six percent of black Protestants also opted for the golden rule argument.
With the delta variant of the virus increasing across the country and hospitalizations similarly increasing from West Virginia and Tennessee to Minnesota, it is more urgent than ever to reach this stubborn constituency of Americans who have no still not been vaccinated.
Support for this golden rule argument actually declined among white evangelical Protestants, from 46% in March to 43% in June. This constituency, where there is an intersection of both conservative theology and more mundane Republican opposition to vaccines, has been more difficult to reach.
In fact, nearly a quarter of that group say they don’t want a vaccine at all, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing a new study.
Encouragingly, Hispanic Catholics made the biggest gains in vaccine acceptance, from 56% in March to 80% in June. Nearly eight in ten White Catholics also agree, up from 68% in March, according to the poll.
Overall, the survey shows vaccine reluctance has decreased among all Americans, but substantial barriers to getting the vaccine, including time constraints, access to reliable transportation, and on-call duty. children, have been obstacles.
And these barriers have been most pronounced among young Americans and communities of color.
n “More than four in ten Hispanic Protestants (44%) say having time to get vaccinated or deal with possible side effects is a critical reason (22%) or one of the reasons (22%) why they have not yet been vaccinated. The poll revealed.
n In addition, “Hispanic Protestants are the most likely to report that lack of child care is a problem (21%), but one in five black Americans (20%) also struggle with this problem.
n And “Black Protestants are the most likely to say that a health problem is a critical reason (18%) or one of the reasons (18%) they did not get the vaccine. About a third of Hispanic Protestants (34%) also say health is a critical reason or one of the reasons they haven’t been vaccinated, ”the poll found.
When he was on the stump, President Joe Biden touted vaccination as the selfless and patriotic thing to do.
New poll data shows that American religious leaders – regardless of sect or creed – also have a role in the pulpit. Churches, as places of gathering, are also sources of child care and other support systems so essential to their communities.
Since they were children, most Americans have learned that there is no greater good than loving their neighbor. Doing it, especially now, can be a challenge. And it’s supposed to be like that. But there is no better time than now to put it into action.
John L. Micek is editor of the Pennsylvania Capital-Star in Harrisburg.