Religion and COVID 19 in the U.S.: The Good, the Bad, and the Shocking

The responses to COVID-19 by religious individuals and entities in the United States have ranged from being scientifically informed, thoughtful, and balanced to endangering society. Similarly, the responses to religious concerns by government entities in the United States have ranged from scientifically sound while considering the needs of religious communities to pandering to certain religious communities in a manner that endangers society as a whole. Not surprisingly, much of this has coincided with the politicization of COVID in the United States. Thus, while the Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist and other religious communities have generally supported vaccination, masking, and social distancing (including holding services on Zoom), there has been a divide within Christianity. Most Christian denominations support vaccination, masking, and social distancing, but denominations associated more with social conservatism (for example, a large number of white Evangelicals) oppose vaccination, masking and distancing. Meanwhile, the response by state governments to religious vaccine exemptions and religious gatherings has varied from sincere attempts to accommodate religion with no or minimal harm to public health to subverting religion to public health concerns to pandering to conservative religious entities at the expense of public health.

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