Throughout the United States, religious leaders are urging their followers to get vaccinated against COVID-19, dispelling myths and misinformation about the vaccines.
Some leaders participate in public health campaigns or offer houses of worship as vaccination sites. And many are getting vaccinated in public or sharing photos of their jab. Here’s what they have to say about getting vaccinated:
Roland Begay — a traditional healer in the Navajo Nation — was the first to get vaccinated at Chinle health care facility in Arizona. “I wanted to show that I trusted the scientists who made the vaccine, and the trial study results showed the safety of the vaccine,” he said. Traditional Navajos use a prayer object, like an arrowhead, during a protection ceremony before being vaccinated. “Navajo cultural knowledge is a tool for promoting acceptance of COVID vaccines to keep the people safe and to sustain the Navajo people,” Begay said.
Brenda Barnes, pastor of Faith Gospel Assembly Church, waits with other clergy members to receive a vaccine in Connecticut in February. Nine local clergy members were vaccinated that day, to inspire their parishioners and minority communities to do the same. Barnes, who lost her father and her uncle to COVID-19, told the Hartford Courant newspaper that she wanted to encourage people “to take responsibility for yourself and your health.”
Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld was vaccinated during a clinical trial held at Meridian Clinical Research in Maryland, in July 2020. “Our faith teaches that the most important way to serve our Creator is to save another life,” Herzfeld said. “Getting a vaccine saves lives and is therefore a great religious act in service of our Creator.”
This hobbit is vaccinated (round one, anyway).
Thankful for the astounding skill and speed of medical science to help rid us of this plague. pic.twitter.com/gNHelHmqfN
— Russell Moore (@drmoore) March 9, 2021
The Reverend Russell Moore, head of the Southern Baptists’ public policy arm, told PBS NewsHour that he believes vaccination is “something we ought to thank God that we have the technology for, because it’s going to get us back to doing the things we need to do” more quickly.
The Catholic Church’s Cardinal Wilton Gregory, archbishop of Washington, agreed to be photographed getting vaccinated to demonstrate the safety of vaccines. Vaccination “is intended to protect the common good,” Gregory told the Catholic Standard newspaper. “The more people who receive these vaccines, the safer we will all be.”
Bishop Robert Deeley, leader of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, Maine, supports vaccines for everyone and reminds his parishioners that being vaccinated is “an act of charity that serves the common good.”
Imam Ammar Amonette of the Islamic Center of Virginia, in Richmond, told the WebMD website that Muslim teaching supports vaccination. “We have a religious duty and obligation to be vaccinated as long as competent science and medical authorities approve the vaccine,” he said.