"Religious attenders express more trust in their clergy on this issue than they do in state elected officials, local elected officials or news media." This is the key takeaway in a newly published poll that sought to determine the pulse of the majority of churchgoers vis-a-vis the COVID vaccines and whether they should take it.
According to a new Pew Research Center survey conducted between September 20 to 26, researchers found that 61% of American congregants say that they have "a fair amount" of confidence in their religious leaders to provide "reliable guidance" when it comes to getting the COVID vaccine. It is a slight increase from 60% of Americans who express confidence in public health officials such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide "reliable guidance" on whether to get the COVID shot.
The new Pew poll also found that among Americans who attend religious services at least monthly, 27% were more likely to say that they had "a great deal" of confidence in the the guidance provided by health care officials than 21% of those who say the same about their religious leaders. Research also found that primary care doctors are the only ones who rank above clergy in the share of American churchgoers who have at least "a fair amount" of trust in each group to provide guidance on COVID vaccines.
In addition, the new Pew survey also found that the confidence level is higher than regular churchgoers have in their local elected officials with 50%, state elected officials with 49%, and the media with 41% when it comes to guidance on getting the COVID shot.
"There is a relatively high degree of trust in clergy to give advice on the coronavirus vaccines," Pew Research Center's Justin Nortey and Mike Lipka wrote in the analysis of the recently concluded survey, as reported by the Christian Headlines. The new survey also gave insight as to how religious groups are approaching the COVID vaccine.
According to the survey, 73% of regular churchgoers in the evangelical tradition admitted that their church has been silent on the issue, compared to 54% of Protestants, 52% of Catholics, and 34% of Christians who said the same. Overall, 54% of regular churchgoers admitted that their church has been mostly silent on the issue of COVID vaccines, saying that their pastor "has not said much about the vaccine either way." Meanwhile, 39% of regular churchgoers admitted that their pastor encouraged them to get the COVID vaccine, while 5% of said their pastor discouraged getting the shot.
In terms of demographics, the Pew survey found that 64% of churchgoers in historically Black congregations said their pastors were for the vaccine, compared to 42% of mainline Protestants, 42% of Catholics, and 21% of evangelicals in the same category. Additionally, only 4% of evangelical churchgoers, 3% of Catholics, 2% of Christians, and 1% of mainline Protestants in historically Black churches said their pastor discouraged getting the COVID vaccine.