This week, The New York Times published a lengthy 1,795-word article accusing Evangelicals of prolonging the COVID-19 pandemic due to vaccine hesitancy among the group.
The article begins by quoting three different Evangelicals who say they don’t plan on receiving the vaccine for a myriad of reasons, including concerns that the vaccine is closely tied to abortion, private revelations from God, and someone who believes the body can heal itself without the injection.
“The deeply held spiritual convictions or counterfactual arguments may vary,” The Times writes, “But across white evangelical America, reasons not to get vaccinated have spread as quickly as the virus that public health officials are hoping to overcome through herd immunity.”
The article goes on to cite a poll from the Pew Research Center which claims that 45% of white Evangelicals don’t plan on getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
“White evangelicals present unique challenges because of their complex web of moral, medical, and political objections,” The Times adds. “The challenge is further complicated by longstanding distrust between evangelicals and the scientific community.”
The article then quotes Jamie Aten, founder and executive director of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College, an evangelical institution in Illinois. “If we can’t get a significant number of white evangelicals to come around on this, the pandemic is going to last much longer than it needs to,” she says.
Much of the article amounts to little more than a hit piece on white Evangelicals.
So, let us start with the assertion that too many white evangelicals don’t plan on receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
One of the main supporting data points of The Times’ thesis is that 45% of white evangelicals don’t plan on getting the COVID-19 vaccine. This number from the Pew Research Center comes from a poll conducted in late February.
But a more recent poll conducted by NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist in early March found that only 38% of white evangelicals don’t plan on getting the COVID-19 vaccine. And this is just 1% more than the Latino population, of which 37% don’t plan on receiving the vaccine. The difference between the two groups is well inside the margin of error.
Why didn’t The Times use the more recent polling data?
Maybe, it is because this would undermine their portrayal of the white Evangelical as the bad guy.
And why hasn’t The Times written a nearly 2,000-word article on why Hispanics will not receive the vaccine? Why single out white Evangelicals for criticism?
Another interesting, though wrongheaded, thread throughout the article is the idea that faith is somehow opposed to reason, and that Evangelicals are suspect of science.
Maybe the authors aren’t aware of the rich, vast history of brilliant Christian scientists. Let’s just name a few.
Robert Boyle, an Anglican, best known for Boyle’s Law (that the volume of a gas varies inversely with pressure), also wrote on natural theology and argued that God created the universe according to certain, definite laws.
Antoine Lavoisier, a Roman Catholic scientist, is known as the “father of modern chemistry.” He also “discovered oxygen’s role in combustion and respiration [and] discovered that water is a compound of hydrogen and oxygen.”
Gregor Mendel, a Roman Catholic priest and an Augustinian monk, is recognized as the “father of modern genetics.” He spent years cultivating thousands of pea plants leading to his discovery of the principles of heredity.
Georges Lemaître, another Roman Catholic priest, “discovered that space and the universe are expanding; discovered Hubble’s law; proposed the universe began with the explosion of a ‘primeval atom’” (now popularized as the Big Bang). “Lemaître’s view was that God had constructed a universe accessible to the human mind, and mathematics and science were the doors through which the truth could be discovered.”
These four names are only a few selections of the dozens of brilliant scientists, chemists, biologists, and physicians who were also Christians.
The trope which posits faith against reason is a modern theory which has no basis in history.
Historically, many of the best and most pioneering scientists were also Christians.
Another problem with The Times’ article is the complete absence of mention of the many ways Christians have helped people overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. From the dozens upon dozens of Roman Catholic hospitals throughout the country, to Samaritan’s Purse setting up a field hospital in the middle of New York City during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak. This lack of recognition is inexcusable.
It’s unfortunate The New York Times feels the need to target Evangelicals, when their decision to do so is contrary to more recent polling data, silent on the history of Christian scientists, and lacking in any positive mention of Christian charity.
You can follow this author on Parler @ZacharyMettler
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