Why was "the pathway to end the pandemic runs through the evangelical church"

Gospel leader Franklin Graham believes Americans should receive the COVID-19 vaccine

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It is a case that will need to be clarified if evangelists - perhaps the least discussed group with the highest levels of skepticism - can be persuaded.

"Jesus is telling the story of a man who was beaten and left for dead on the sidewalk, and the religious leaders passed by him with no sympathy, they were not involved. But the Samaritan was compassionate," Graham told CBS News in an interview. "And he immediately bandaged his wounds - put oil and wine on his wounds and took him to an inn, where he paid for his care. Now oil and wine were the medicine of the day ... to save lives. "

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Graham, the son of the late missionary Billy Graham and grandson of a missionary in China, has noticed that the church has a long tradition of using medicine to help others. Last week, he told his 9 million Facebook followers that his global charity organization, the Samaritan Fund, had seen human suffering due to COVID-19 "itself," and encouraged people to "talk to their doctor, and pray about it to find out." which vaccine, if any, is best for them. "

While thousands of users liked and “liked” the post, most commenters responded with anger or frustration.

"As far as we know, Fauci helped improve COVID-19 !!" another wrote, referring to a U.S. director. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci, who is also President Joe Biden's senior medical advisor.

"The government and the media have created an insatiable fear of the death toll that makes people follow the sheep," wrote one.

Although anecdotal, the responses indicate a tendency. Evangelists, especially white evangelists, are a religious group that may say they do not want a vaccine.

A February Pew Research Center study found that white evangelicals were the least religious people to at least receive the COVID-19 (54%) vaccine, or have already received it, and they may say "definitely" or "probably" will not receive the vaccine (45%) . That comes from all Protestants, Whites and blacks, White and Spanish Catholics, atheists, agnostics and "nothing in detail."

Understanding why this is so, and encouraging those who can be persuaded, can save lives as the country works to achieve protection of the herd, which is estimated to have Fauci would need to vaccinate 70% to 90% of people. To date, about 17% of US people have been completely vaccinated.

Curtis Chang, a former senior lecturer and now a professor at Duke Divinity School and running his own consulting firm working with community health and nonprofit organizations, has created a project called Christian and the Vaccine. His website provides scientific information on vaccination from a biblical perspective, in equal videos, which can be shared to reach evangelists who can be persuaded by public health officials.

"The message I was trying to get to the public health officials is very simple - that the way to end the epidemic goes beyond the gospel church. I mean, it is undeniable statistically," Chang said in a telephone interview with CBS News. "And public health should start investing in resources and capacity to equip evangelists to be outsiders who try to convince their brothers and sisters."

Graham hoped that what he had written could persuade Christians on the phone about the shooting, which he considered "absurd." In partnership with local health officials, Samaritan's Purse is running a vaccination clinic in Boone, North Carolina, which has already vaccinated more than 5,000 people.

"The wallet in Samaria was operating in the COVID areas," Graham told CBS News. "Last year, we were in Cremona, Italy. We were working in New York City. Then we moved to the Bahamas and opened another one here in North Carolina, then Los Angeles County. We've seen what COVID can do. , based on what I have seen and experienced, I do not want COVID and I do not want anyone else to get it. "

Reasons for skepticism among evangelicals are common. Others contend with distant connections with abdominal tissues, especially with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Some do not trust the provincial government and the big pharma. And some point to the statistical possibilities for recovery in COVID, with Jesus as the great healer. Some fear that it is "the mark of the beast," which is a reference to the symbolic book of Revelation. The lack of long-term clinical trials and other unknown long-term outcomes also worries many.