On Coronavirus Beliefs, “They Are Evangelical Protestants Against Everyone” – Baptist News Global


When asked in October to list their top concerns, white evangelicals have listed abortion, fair presidential elections and terrorism.

The coronavirus didn’t make the cut, noted Robert P. Jones, CEO and founder of the Public Religion Research Institute.

“Looking at their list of critical issues, you wouldn’t know we’re in the middle of a pandemic that was going to kill 300,000,” said Jones, whose agency presented the information as part of a recently published study, “The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on religious life”.

The survey presents the perspectives of Black, Hispanic and White Catholics and Protestants, members of non-Christian denominations and those not religiously affiliated on topics ranging from social distancing, wearing masks, in-person worship and impact. of COVID-19 on those surveyed. Lives.

Robert P. Jones (Photo by Noah Willman)

What stands out, Jones said, is the degree to which white evangelicals are increasingly sidelined from most other religious Americans in most categories.

The disparity is evident in the presentation of the study of key subjects of Americans by religious affiliation. In it, eight of the nine groups included identify the pandemic as one of the top three critical issues. Six of them, including 79% African-Americans and 72% Hispanic Catholics, place it at the top of the concerns they deem critical.

The distance between white evangelicals and other people of faith found in the survey is consistent with findings from previous studies of American religion, Jones said.

“The exceptionalism that we see among white evangelicals is consistent, and we have seen it take further root during the Trump era,” he said. “They are evangelical Protestants against everyone on the coronavirus.”

White evangelicals are also alone with a majority who believe the extent of the pandemic was inevitable, PRRI found.

Among Americans as a whole, nearly seven in 10, or 69%, said they believed the coronavirus could have been controlled. This includes 85% of black Protestants, 84% of non-Christian religious adults, 78% of religiously unaffiliated, 75% of Hispanic Catholics, 74% of Hispanic Protestants, 65% of White Catholics, and 57% of major white Protestants.

Then three in ten nationwide said the outbreak was inevitable, led by white evangelicals. “White Evangelical Protestants are the one religious group that is more likely to say the outbreak was inevitable (55%) than to say it could have been better controlled (44%).”

Why would white evangelicals be determined to deny that the pandemic could have been avoided or reduced in impact? Jones thinks it has more to do with politics than religion.

“I am skeptical that theology is doing a lot of work here” he said. “I think it’s about loyalty to Trump and protecting Trump. They say the pandemic was inevitable so President Trump would not bear the blame. “

The issue of inevitability is another finding of the inquiry that is consistent with white evangelical support for the Republican Party and conservative causes.

“This pandemic has really exposed the strength not only of their conservative partnerships, but also their loyalty to one particular political leader. “

But the latest draft reveals their devotion to the 45th president, Jones said. “This pandemic has really exposed the strength not only of their conservative partnerships, but also their loyalty to one particular political leader who questions the facts and who has been the source of so much disinformation about the pandemic. “

White conservative Christians have put their political loyalty and their beliefs about the pandemic in action by advocating for religious exemptions for social gatherings during the coronavirus outbreak, PRRI reported.

About 54% of Americans were opposed to such exemptions, including 75% of non-religious affiliates, 67% of non-Christian religious Americans, 63% of Hispanic Catholics and 53% of black Protestants, according to the survey.

Overall, 44% of Americans expressed approval to open places of worship for in-person services even when governments have restricted other gatherings. This belief is led by 75% white evangelicals and 59% white Catholics.

“In the Catholic world, there was a difference of 25 points between white Catholics and Hispanics, ”Jones said. “Of course, Hispanics are less likely to agree with in-person services because the Hispanic community has been hit much harder by the coronavirus.”

The impact of COVID-19 experiences on religious attitudes has been documented in other sectors of the population.

“Hispanic Protestants (26%) and Black Protestants (23%) are the religious groups most likely to face at least one of these COVID-19 illness situations in their household,” PRRI reported. “Fewer Hispanic Catholics (15%), White Evangelical Protestants (14%), Americans not affiliated with religion (11%), other Christians not included in any other category (10%) and White Protestants (10%) say they have experienced one or more COVID-19 illness situations. Few White Catholics (6%) and non-Christian religious Americans (6%) report one or more of these experiences.

More than six in 10 black Protestants said they knew someone who had been hospitalized or died from COVID-19.

More than six in 10 black Protestants said they knew someone who had been hospitalized or died from COVID-19. “Look how hard this hit the African American community. It really stands out, ”Jones said.

Similar failures were found on the subject wearing a mask. The PRRI found that 78% of Americans said they “always wear a mask in public places.” Only 3% said they never do.

“White Evangelical Protestants (63%) stand out as the religious group least likely to say they always wear a mask,” the report notes. “About eight in ten or more of almost all other religious groups say they always wear a mask, including 85% of non-Christian religious Americans, 82% of non-religious Americans, 80% of other Christians, 79% of Protestants Blacks, 79% of Hispanic Catholics, 78% of White Catholics, 78% of Hispanic Protestants, and 77% of Mainline White Protestants.

The theme is consistent, Jones added. “Who stands out? white evangelicals.

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