The most prominent church in Utah, the Church of Jesus Christ, has repeatedly encouraged its members to get vaccinated, even updating its official policy handbook to encourage vaccinations. In Utah, many religious leaders across all faiths have made efforts to promote the vaccine by hosting vaccine clinics or addressing the issue over the pulpit. Latter-day Saint church leadership has been vaccinated, and President Russell M. Nelson called the vaccine a “literal godsend.”
Prominent religious leaders like the pope, the dalai lama, the archbishop of Canterbury, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, the leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and many others have been vaccinated, often documenting it publicly. So what exactly are official religious beliefs surrounding immunization? Which religions and faith traditions are doctrinally opposed to vaccination? And do these beliefs also apply to the COVID-19 vaccine?
What does The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints say? Some religious leaders have cited their faith as a reason to promote vaccination, like doctrinal mandates to love others or to stay as healthy as possible. Others have cited their faith as a reason to allow others to make the medical decisions themselves without getting involved. Some have even cited their faith as a reason to discourage vaccination.
Dutch Reformed Church Though it is not an official church stance, many members opt out of vaccination because they believe that vaccines can interfere with their relationship with God by making them less dependent. The church has not made a specific statement about the COVID-19 vaccine. No churches officially oppose vaccinations in general, and very few openly discourage them. The two most common religions referenced in legal vaccination exemptions for schools are the Dutch Reformed Church and the Church of Christ, Scientist.
“Among the religious groups least receptive to the vaccines, white evangelical Protestants stand out as the most likely to say they will refuse to get vaccinated (26%), with an additional 28% who are hesitant,” the report published in April states. “About 1 in 5 other Protestants of color (20%), Black Protestants (19%), and Mormons (17%) say they will not get vaccinated, and another one-third of each are hesitant (35%, 32% and 33%, respectively).” Though ultimately, the official policy says the decision is up to the members, with divine guidance. And the Public Religion Research Institute report showed that 17% of Latter-day Saints say they will not get vaccinated.
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- What is the position of major US religions regarding COVID-19 vaccination?
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