North Texas Daily

Faith leaders should encourage vaccinations

Faith leaders should encourage vaccinations

Faith leaders should encourage vaccinations
April 22
11:15 2021

I want to go on record and say that politics and religion don’t mix. As a Christian, the last thing I want is for political values or ideology to make it to the pulpit. Vice versa, I don’t believe any religion should inspire laws that require people outside of a certain faith to adopt a message they don’t believe in. For example, Engel v. Vitale and Abington School District v. Schempp were two Supreme Court cases that banned public school-sponsored prayer because it violates the first amendment. Though I want the option available for myself and others, people should have the right to express religious beliefs. I believe faith leaders encouraging congregation members to get vaccinated is not a political move, and here’s why.

A good faith leader, whether they be at a church, synagogue, mosque or temple, should want to protect members of their respective places of worship. I know in my faith, pastors are considered to be the protector of the flock. If something is going wrong with a member of their church whether that might be physical, mental or spiritual, the pastor should want to help them. Currently, around 23 percent of Texans have been fully vaccinated according to stats provided by our world in data.

While this sort of progress is tremendous when you consider how far-fetched a vaccine sounded this time last year, we are not out of the woods. There are a host of conspiracies about the vaccine, famously among anti-vaxxers and members of QAnon.  However, about 27 percent of Americans said they would probably not or would not get vaccinated, according to a survey included in an article by Healthline. This thinking will only continue to make the pandemic stick around.

Over two dozen clergy members who come from different walks of faith publicly got vaccinated at the Washington National Cathedral on March 16 in an effort to encourage vaccinations among their congregations. This act was a move against misinformation such as the myth that one can get infected with COVID-19 by receiving a vaccination, a concern that has been disproven by medical professionals. Faith leaders shouldn’t have a role in trying to persuade politics on their members, but they should promote the safety of the vaccine to ease their doubts and hesitations.

This topic shouldn’t dominate the goal of places of worship but faith leaders can help educate others on the safety of vaccinations. There is low risk and high reward for Americans receiving the full dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. At best, we can return to a pre-pandemic way of life, and at worst, more innocent lives will be lost to this deadly, unforgiving virus. Even if religious leaders are at risk of offending their congregation members by promoting the shot, it is better to fight this problem by addressing it than leaving it to the job of the government, who they don’t trust.

Vaccinations are important in this fight against the pandemic. If 70 to 85 percent of the U.S. population received the full dose of the vaccine, we could stop the spread of COVID-19 in the country, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci. At the end of the day, religious leaders are highly respected and have an influence on members of these religious groups. Because of this, religious leaders should use their influence to ease the worries of the people they minister over. It is their ethical and moral obligation to protect not just the individual, but also the community itself.

Featured Illustration by J. Robynn Aviles

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Adrian Maldonado

Adrian Maldonado

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