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Vaccination. Public domain image via
Faithful Ambassadors for Public Health
April 09, 2021
Education and community outreach have decreased the prevalence of vaccine hesitancy among African Americans, but among white evangelicals, conspiracy theories have taken hold.
A Scientist Becomes an Advocate for Vaccines April 09, 2021
In a non-narrated reflection, Dr. Dawn Holt describes her journey from backbench scientist to Covid-19 vaccine advocate.  After joining a phase 3 vaccine trial in 2020, Holt began sharing her experience and knowledge about vaccine development.  Soon, she was speaking regularly to people around the country to inspire confidence among those nervous about trusting the vaccine.

As a member of the Kingdom Fellowship AME Church in Silver Spring, Maryland, Holt found support from her congregational leaders including senior pastor Reverend Matthew L. Watley.  Like Holt, Rev. Watley felt called to address the concerns and vaccine hesitancy borne out of a history of medical racism.  Watley describes his efforts to not only mobilize pastors but elevate the voices of trusted voices to combat the fear and spread of misinformation.  Those efforts, Watley points out, have reduced hesitancy and increased demand for vaccines in the communities hardest hit by Covid-19.

Dr. Dawn Holt, Ph.D. Associate Adjunct Professor, University of Maryland Global Campus.

Reverend Matthew L. Watley. Senior Pastor at Kingdom Fellowship AME Church in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Rev Matthew L Watley. Image courtesy Kingdom Fellowship AME

Rev Matthew L Watley
Kingdom Fellowship AME

Rev Watley's efforts to promote acceptance of the COVID-19 can be seen in these videos.
Pledging to Work Across the Faith Divides April 09, 2021
Melissa Rogers seeks to encourage local and state governments to mindfully navigate church-state boundaries as they form relationships with faith leaders like Rev. Watley.  Rogers, a White House veteran and church-state advocate is once again leading the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. She describes the agenda and priorities of the office which includes listening to the needs of the nation’s multi-faith religious leadership. Highlighting racial equity as a key priority, Rogers sees faith leaders as critical partners in the fight against Covid-19 and addressing vaccine inequity.  One area or challenge that remains -- building relationships with conservative and moderate faith-based organizations serving the grassroots.  Groups whose members increasingly represent a religious bloc of vaccine hesitancy according to recent polls.

Melissa Rogers, JD. Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and non-resident senior fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution.

Melissa Rogers. Public domain image by Lawrence Jackson

Melissa Rogers
Lawrence Jackson
Conspiracy Theories Drive Vaccine Resistance Among White Evangelical April 09, 2021
As a growing number of white Evangelicals express vaccine hesitancy, a new question emerges, how to reach this religious group. To understand the roots of the resistance, Dr. Julie Ingersoll, a professor of religious studies at the University of North Florida points to the interplay of two forces, the cultural ethos and end-of-times theology. These two strands of influence emerge from Ingersoll’s analysis, both reinforcing vaccine opposition.  Specifically, Ingersoll points to a deeply instilled distrust of government and growing skepticism of science. She cautions that activating leaders as vaccine advocates may not work as it might in other communities.  Leaders who veer from the orthodoxy of these beliefs often fail to bring co-religionists along.  Ingersoll points to the vilification of former Vice-President Mike Pence, cautioning that partnerships between government and evangelical leaders may undermine the reputation of the faith leaders in the eyes of followers.  

Julie Ingersoll, Ph.D. Professor and Program Coordinator of Religious Studies at the University of North Florida, and author most recently Building God's Kingdom: Inside the World of Christian Reconstruction from Oxford University Press.

Julie Ingersoll. Courtesy Julie Ingersoll

Julie Ingersoll
courtesy Jullie Ingersoll

Building Gods Kingdom-courtesy Oxford University Press

Building Gods Kingdom: Inside the World
of Christian Reconstruction

Oxford University Press