Secular Americans less likely than evangelicals to be vaccinated: poll

A researcher works on a vaccine against the new coronavirus COVID-19 at the Copenhagen's University research lab in Copenhagen, Denmark, on March 23, 2020. |

Americans who are younger and identify as non-religious are less likely to get vaccinated than evangelical Christians, according to a recent report on polling data compiled by Ryan Burge, who says it shows the media “needs to be turning the spotlight a bit away from evangelicals and toward the ... young and secular.”

Burge, assistant professor of political science at Eastern Illinois University, analyzed findings from a survey published on May 11 by Data for Progress.

In a report published Tuesday by the website Religion Unplugged, Burge found that “those without any religious affiliation were the least likely to have received at least one dose of any COVID-19 vaccine.”

According to the poll, while 62% of evangelical Protestants and 70% of non-evangelical Protestants had received at least one dose of the vaccine, only 47% of “nones” reported the same.

Burge also looked into the possibility that age was a greater factor for the disparity between religious identifications by examining the timeline of the rollout for the vaccines.

“I built a regression model that contained a number of control variables including race, income, education, gender and age,” explained Burge.

“The results of that model indicate that when those factors are controlled for, there is no statistically significant difference in the likelihood of vaccination among different religious traditions.”

Burge said this means that “a 30-year-old evangelical is no more or less likely to have gotten the vaccine in early May as a 30-year-old none.”

“I understand that this data seems to contradict some of the other polling results that have been released by other polling agencies. I cannot speak to why these results do not line up with those other findings,” he added.

“However, I can say that if this data is accurate, that the media needs to be turning the spotlight a bit away from evangelicals and toward the vast swaths of America that is young and secular.”

Much has been made about the resistance by many evangelicals to get vaccinated, even with prominent leaders like the Rev. Franklin Graham, Max Lucado, and Pastor Robert Jeffress supporting the COVID-19 vaccine.

In March, the Pew Research Center released a report which found that 54% of white evangelicals “definitely or probably” plan on getting vaccinated or already have received at least one dose, which was the lowest of all religious groups surveyed.

By contrast, 64% of black Americans, 77% of Catholics, and 71% of “nones” told Pew that they would “definitely or probably” get vaccinated or had already gotten at least one shot.

The Religion Unplugged report comes as COVID-19 cases in the United States are on the rise, mostly among unvaccinated individuals, but also those who have been fully vaccinated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a 44% increase in new daily cases for the last week of July, with one-third of the new cases being in either Florida or Texas.

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