Churchgoers Trust their Pastor on Vaccine more than Politicians and Media, Pew Says

Michael Foust | ChristianHeadlines.com Contributor | Tuesday, October 19, 2021
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Churchgoers Trust their Pastor on Vaccine more than Politicians and Media, Pew Says


A majority of regular churchgoers in the U.S. say they would trust their pastor in providing guidance about the COVID-19 vaccine, but a majority also say their own minister has been silent on the issue, according to a new Pew Research Center poll.

The survey found that 61 percent of Americans who attend religious services at least monthly say they would have confidence in their own pastor to “provide guidance about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.”

That confidence level is higher than regular churchgoers have in their local elected officials (50 percent), their state elected officials (49 percent) and the news media (41 percent) in providing guidance about the vaccine.

“There is a relatively high degree of trust in clergy to give advice on the coronavirus vaccines,” Pew’s Justin Nortey and Mike Lipka wrote in an analysis of the survey.

Regular churchgoers say they have the most confidence (84 percent) in their primary care doctor to provide vaccine guidance.

But a slight majority of regular churchgoers say their church has been largely silent on the issue, with 54 percent saying their pastor “has not said much about the vaccine either way.” A total of 39 percent of regular churchgoers say their pastor has encouraged attendees to get vaccinated, while 5 percent say their pastor has discouraged vaccination.

Still, the issue has received a wide range of treatment depending on the Christian tradition. For example:

  • 73 percent of regular churchgoers in the evangelical tradition say their church has been silent on the issue, compared to 54 percent of mainline Protestants, 52 percent of Catholics and 34 percent of Christians in historically black churches.
  • 64 percent of regular churchgoers in historically black congregations say their pastor has encouraged people to get the vaccine, compared to 42 percent of mainline Protestants, 42 percent of Catholics and 21 percent of evangelicals.
  • 4 percent of evangelical churchgoers say their pastor has discouraged the vaccine. That compares to 3 percent of Catholics, 2 percent of Christians in historically black churches and 1 percent of mainline Protestants.

The survey, released Oct. 15, was conducted Sept. 20-26 among 6,485 adults.

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Brian A. Jackson


Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chroniclethe Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.