By Curtis Chang and Kris Carter
Mr. Chang and Mr. Carter are co-founders of Christians and the Vaccine, a partnership with the Ad Council and the National Association of Evangelicals that engages with vaccine-hesitant evangelicals.
The pathway to ending the Covid-19 pandemic runs through the evangelical church. Tens of millions of evangelical Christians live in the United States, and almost half of white evangelicals surveyed have said they are reluctant to get vaccinated against Covid. For many outside the evangelical world, this resistance seems incomprehensible. But as lifelong evangelicals, we understand why this is happening, and we worry that our community is obstructing recovery from the pandemic.
The decision to get vaccinated is essentially a decision to trust institutions. Many people do not understand the vaccines’ scientific complexities, regardless of religion. That means getting immunized is a decision to trust “them” — the constellation of scientific and government institutions offering assurances that the vaccines are safe and effective.
But American evangelicals are historically prone to ambivalence toward dominant secular institutions. In fact, a posture of critical evaluation is built into the fabric of our faith. Evangelicals interpret Jesus’ teaching that his followers are in the world but not “of the world” (John 17:16) to mean we should engage with secular institutions with a certain measure of wariness. Some amount of caution is healthy for all communities, not just for evangelicals. No institution is infallible, and critical thinking can be a civic virtue.
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