There is much debate about religious reasons not to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but in reality there are very few religions that have doctrinal reasons for not believing in vaccinations.
Despite the fact that it dominates the national news, evangelical Christianity is not one of them.
Still, some Christians and other devout people cite their religion as the reason they didn’t get the COVID-19 vaccine.
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White Evangelical Protestants are the only religious group that failed to win a majority when they were asked in a poll by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) and the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) whether they believe they should get vaccinated because this “contributes to the protection of all” and “is a way of living the religious principle of charity.”
According to the poll, only 43% of white evangelical Protestants agreed with these statements, compared with 56% of black Protestants and 61% of Hispanic Protestants.
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White Evangelical Protestants say their belief is against the vaccine by speaking of eternal life, as the Mississippi government, Tate Reeves, did in late August.
“If you believe in eternal life – if you believe that life on this earth is just a speck on the screen – then you don’t have to be so scared,” Reeves said.
This belief that God controls everything is a core belief of evangelicals, said PRRI Research Director Natalie Jackson.
Most religions do not prohibit vaccinations
There are many religious arguments for and against the COVID-19 vaccination. Here are some of the beliefs of the major religions about this:
Catholic officials expressed initial concerns about the use of aborted fetal cell lines in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but ultimately said Catholics could still get the vaccine if it were the only vaccine available.
In a March statement, the United States Catholic Bishops Conference declared that “vaccination can be an act of charity serving the common good.”
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Nearly 80% of white Catholics accepted the vaccine in July, according to a PRRI study, and Hispanic Catholics were one of the religious groups whose vaccine adoption grew the most. According to PRRI, it rose from 56% in March to 80% in June.
Christians, not including Catholics, accepted vaccines by 77% in July, according to the PRRI.
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The vast majority of Christian denominations have no theological opposition to vaccines, including Eastern Orthodox, Amish, Anglicans, Baptists, Latter-day Saints, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mennonites, Quakers, and Pentecostal Christians, according to Vanderbilt University Medical Center research.
Christian denominations with theological rejection of vaccination
The only Christian denominations that give a theological reason for rejecting vaccines are the Dutch Reformed Church and the Church of Christ, Scientists, according to Vanderbilt.
Some members of the Dutch Reformed Church reject vaccines because they “interfere with divine providence,” while others accept them as a gift from God, according to Vanderbilt research.
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Other research points to diseases from smallpox vaccines in the 19th century as a reason why some in religion don’t want vaccines.
Denominations that believe in faith healing or that lay hands on people to cure their illnesses are unlikely to believe in vaccines either.
Church of Christ, scientist, teaches that prayer relieves and prevents disease so members can apply for a vaccination waiver, Vanderbilt research shows. However, the name does not strictly prohibit vaccination.
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In a news release on the Church’s website, officials say that most members rely on prayer for healing.
“That is why we valued vaccination exemptions very much and tried to use them conscientiously and responsibly when they were granted,” the press release said. “Church members can make their own decisions about all life choices in compliance with the law, including vaccinating their children. These are not decisions imposed by their church. “
The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) has released information encouraging people to receive the vaccine and take other precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
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“One of the ultimate goals of Islamic law is to preserve and protect human life,” said Imam Mohamed Magid, past president of ISNA and executive imam of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society Center in Sterling, Virginia.
Magid spoke for an interview recorded by the Religion News Service (RNS) about the COVID-19 vaccine in January.
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“Muslims have practiced preventive medicine throughout history, and Muslims are among the first to believe in the idea of vaccination,” Magid said, according to the RNA.
“The idea of avoiding harm comes from the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, who said that if there is a contagious disease in a city, one should not enter or leave that city to spread it. That is the theological basis for vaccination. “
Early on in the COVID-19 vaccination effort, concerns were raised that pork products – which religion forbids its followers to consume – might be in the vaccines. ISNA said in its press release that the vaccines do not contain pork products.
Jews support vaccination because one of the most important principles of religion is the preservation of life. According to Chabad.org, protecting one’s health is a mitzvah or obligation.
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“It is not enough to deal with health problems when they arise, we have to take precautions to avoid danger,” the website says.
The Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Union for Reform Judaism, and the Orthodox Union all issued statements advocating vaccination.