Many Bible Belt preachers silent on shots as COVID-19 surges

Coronavirus

FILE – In this May 9, 2021 file photo, Rev. Joseph Jackson Jr. talks to his congregation at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Milwaukee during a service. Health officials have an unsteady partner as they try to get more people vaccinated against COVID-19 in the Bible Belt: churches and pastors. Some preachers are praying for more inoculations and hosting vaccination clinics. Others are skirting the topic of vaccines or openly preaching against them in a region that’s both deeply religious and reeling from a spike in cases. (AP Photo/Carrie Antlfinger, File)

(AP) — Health officials have an unsteady partner as they try to get more people vaccinated against COVID-19 in the Bible Belt: churches and pastors.

Some preachers are praying for more inoculations and hosting vaccination clinics. Others are skirting the topic of vaccines or openly preaching against them in a region that’s both deeply religious and reeling from a spike in cases.

A survey by the National Association of Evangelicals found that 95% of evangelical leaders planned to get inoculated.

But theologian Curtis Chang says that hasn’t translated into ministers widely advocating for vaccinations. He says the vast majority are on the sidelines afraid to speak out about a polarizing topic.

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