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Christian evangelical Lauri Armstrong, a Texas nutritionist, refuses to take the COVID-19 vaccine, according to a recent New York Times report. “It would be God’s will if I am here or if I am not here,” she said. Armstrong is convinced that God designed the body to heal itself, if given the right nutrients.

She is among 50% of the nation’s 41 million evangelicals who say they will not take the vaccine, according to a February Pew Research Center Poll. Although vaccine refusers tend to be pro-life, their neglect will add to COVID-19 deaths, experts say.

But intriguing questions remain. Surely, when they were children, most evangelicals had been taken in hand by their parents to get vaccinations. Has that stopped any among them from following in the ways of Christ? If the body is a temple, shouldn’t it be protected? Unfortunately, by refusing to take the preventive injections, evangelicals appear determined to prove that they know less than their mothers and fathers did.

These are decent people who will help a stranger in need. Many are given to charitable volunteering at food banks and homeless shelters. But their aversion to vaccinations will contribute to illness in others, not to mention in themselves. Evidently, their immunization skepticism has arisen from a malignant enmeshment of faith and politics, with a general mistrust of science adding to the confusion.

Some evangelicals mistakenly believe that the vaccines contain aborted cell tissue. However, no aborted tissue is used in the manufacture of the COVID-19 vaccines. Even Pope Francis has been vaccinated. Conservative Christian pastors Franklin Graham and Robert Jeffress approve of the shots.

But the opinions of such well-known religious leaders evidently come to nothing when compared to the teachings of someone like physician Simone Gold who told an evangelical group in Florida that they risked being “coerced into taking an experimental biological agent.”

Dr. Gold is mistaken. Nobody is being, or will be, “coerced into taking” the vaccine. Furthermore, the vaccines are FDA approved and thus are no longer “experimental.” Possibly the space within Gold’s brain that should be overflowing with medical knowledge has become cluttered with toxic politics. She was arrested after having been identified inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

As science explains more and more of the workings of the universe, there remains less and less that might be attributed to the hand of the divine, a phenomenon that likely contributes to evangelicals’ snubbing of vaccine science. Additionally, many vaccine skeptics evidently are unable to go 10 minutes without a moment of absorption into the wonder science known as the internet where, in their innocence, they so easily internalize disinformation about science itself.

Evangelicals might consider that Jesus, who healed lepers, evidently had no qualms about dealing with serious illnesses, including the taking of preventive action. The miracle of the loaves and fishes surely halted fainting spells and potential malnutrition.

Although I urge everyone to get vaccinated, I suspect that many evangelicals, and perhaps others, will remain unconvinced by an admonition from the likes of me, primarily because I have had the vaccine. They might ask whether I wrote this opinion piece myself or if, instead, it was a chip manufactured by the government and injected along with my vaccination, that is doing the talking.

Joseph Wyatt is a Gazette-Mail contributing columnist and emeritus professor at Marshall University. Reach him at wyatt@marshall.edu.

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