MORGANTOWN – Christian nationalists are less likely to receive the COVID-19 vaccine while political conservatives express great skepticism about the coronavirus in general, two new studies published by sociologists at West Virginia University have concluded.
In their first report, published in “Vaccine,” researchers have found that Christian nationalism, the belief that Christianity should permeate American civic life, is one of the strongest predictors of reluctance to take the COVID-19 vaccine and is negatively associated with having received or plan to receive the vaccine.
“It is the belief that Americans are chosen by God and that God protects them” said Katie Corcoran, associate professor of sociology and lead author of the report. “They tend not to trust science and are against government intervention, so they are more focused on individual freedoms than on protecting public health. It is speculated that these are the reasons why Christian nationalists are less likely to receive the vaccine and are more likely to not trust it. “
Corcoran and his co-authors, Christopher Scheitle, also an associate professor of sociology, and graduate research assistant Bernard DiGregorio, used a national sample of 2,000 American adults who responded to a survey last spring on religious identities and behaviors. as well as attitudes towards COVID-19.
To measure Christian nationalism, respondents were asked to what extent do they agree or disagree that the federal government should declare the United States a Christian nation.
Scheitle said it’s important not to assume that all Christians or Evangelicals fit Bill as Christian nationalists, who make up about 20 percent of the American population.
“Traditionally, when the media talks about religion, they focus on evangelical Protestants”, Scheitle said. “This is the main scenario. What research on Christian nationalism has shown is that it is not just about people who identify as evangelicals. It is not an evangelical question, it is whether or not they adopt this particular nationalist ideology.
In another study, Scheitle and Corcoran examined skepticism related to COVID-19 compared to other forms of scientific skepticism. They found that some of the predictors of COVID-19 skepticism mirror those of skepticism towards other scientific issues such as evolution, climate change, vaccines in general, and genetically modified organisms, especially among political conservatives.
These findings were published in “Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World.”
“There is a narrative around COVID-19 that you have anti-science people and pro-science people,” Scheitle said. “This research was aimed at trying to see how well COVID-19 matches other forms of scientific skepticism. What we’ve found is that political conservatism is a pretty consistent predictor of scientific skepticism, whatever problem you’re talking about.
However, there is something specific about COVID that makes political conservatives particularly more skeptical about this issue beyond climate change, evolution and everything in between, Scheitle said.
“I think it may be related to the explicit politicization of COVID-19 policies”, Scheitle said.
Age has also played a role in attitudes towards COVID-19. Researchers found that younger people viewed COVID-19, from the vaccine to the virus’s existence, with more skepticism than older people.
During this time, the subject of evolution showed strong ties to religion and was the only scientific subject with a regional pattern, Scheitle said, as people residing in the South were more likely to view evolution with skepticism. .
The study also found that people with higher levels of education were less skeptical of each scientific issue.
The researchers used the same 2,000-person data set from the aforementioned study.