God, COVID and the Rage Against the Unvaccinated

by James A. Bacon

“There is a growing rage among the people who are vaccinated about the people who have refused a free and effective vaccine,” Stephen Farnsworth, an oft-quoted political science professor at the University of Mary Washington, said recently. “We’re all going back toward lockdowns because of the selfishness of a few.”

As Farnsworth notes, there may be political fallout from the rage against the unvaccinated. The people who feel this righteous anger carry an image of the unvaccinated as White don’t-tread-on-me Donald Trump voters putting their personal liberties ahead of the common good… Except when they acknowledge that a few of the unvaccinated are Black. They view Black vaccination resistance more charitably as an understandable, if misguided, response to the infamous Tuskegee syphilis study that ended a half century ago.

But I wonder. How many unvaccinated Blacks cite the Tuskegee study? How many are wary of “systemic racism” in the healthcare system? Are such tropes widely shared view among Blacks — or a construct of journalists, academics and other members of America’s clerisy?

After a lengthy conversation with an African-American tradesman who is active in my neighborhood, I have come to question the Tuskegee talking point. And I suspect that vaccination resistance among many Blacks likely arises from their religious faith. Viewing the world through a secular lens, America’s clerisy may be downplaying the influence of religious thinking among the unvaccinated.

Source: Virginia Department of Health COVID dashboard

Let’s start with some basic facts. According to the Virginia Department of Health COVID-19 dashboard, Blacks have the lowest rate of vaccination of the major racial/ethnic groups in Virginia. Only 57.4% of the eligible population has received one or more doses. The rate for Whites is higher, though not by much. Only 61.4% has gotten the jab. Latinos are significantly higher at 74.8%, Asians at 83.3%, and Native Americans at 101.7%. (I have no explanation for the Native American number.)

Let us also note that Blacks are more likely to describe themselves as religious than other Americans do. According to a 2011 Gallup poll, 53% of Blacks identified as “very” religious and 33% as “moderately” so. That compares to 39% of Whites calling themselves “very” and 25% as “moderately” religious.

There is no religious orthodoxy regarding COVID-19. But religion provides a worldview through which people interpret the world — more so for Blacks than Whites. My tradesman friend, whom I will refer to only as Jerry because he did not imagine I might be quoting him, says his fate rests in the hands of God. If he gets COVID, it’s because God wills it. He doesn’t see his own actions as having much to do with it.

Jerry, whom I would guess is in his early 50s, says his belief in God and faith in Jesus has saved him. He was a hell raiser in his youth. He chased women and impregnated several. He used drugs heavily, and he sold them, too. His life was out of control. He spent a year-and-a-half in prison. Then, when he found himself before a judge again, he made a bargain with the Lord. If God got him out of his jam, he vowed, he would change his ways. In what he regarded as a miraculous deliverance, the judge let him off. Jerry lived up to his promise. He is now a sober, church-going, hard-working man. His life is immeasurably better. And he says he owes it all to God and Jesus.

Jerry has faith that God will protect him from COVID. But if God doesn’t and he catches the virus anyway, then it was meant to be.

One other theme came out of my conversation with Jerry. He doesn’t trust what the government is telling him. Not because of Tuskegee or systemic racism, which he never mentioned, but because of the ever-changing and conflicting messages emanating from the highest authorities. You don’t need to wear masks… oh, yes, you do…. masks protect you… no, they just protect others from you… the vaccine will immunize you… well, only for a while, then you’ll need a booster…

I worry about Jerry. I’m not religious, and I don’t think God is looking out for him. I explained the science-based reasons for him to get vaccinated. But he had responses — entirely logical if you accept the underlying premises that God exists, he is benign, and he plays a role in our lives —  to rebut my arguments.

Personally, I don’t harbor a rage against the unvaccinated, be they liberty-loving Trump voters or religious African-Americans like Jerry. I can’t get angry at Jerry. He’s too likeable and so very sincere. As we ended our conversation with me leaning into the window of his pickup truck, he reached over and gave me a piece of literature. Promise me you’ll read this, he said.

Here is a passage, which takes the form of a letter from God the Father addressed to his “dear child.”

I knit you together in your mother’s womb. And brought you forth on the day you were born. … I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love. And it is my desire to lavish my love upon you. Simply because you are my child and I am your father.

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34 responses to “God, COVID and the Rage Against the Unvaccinated”

  1. and Native Americans at 101.7%. (I have no explanation for the Native American number.)

    Maybe Elizabeth Warren got vaccinated in Virginia…

  2. LarrytheG Avatar

    I think there is a clear distinction between those who are genuinely hesitant with no politics involved versus those who cite “freedom” and often identify politically.

    There is also a difference between a general/universal vaccine “mandate” and mandates associated with a workplace and especially workplaces that interact with the public on a personal level – like health care providers.

    I’ve visited several health care providers recently and there is a “no nonsense” attitude. You don’t want to wear a mask, then you won’t be seen. You haven’t been vaccinated, you may not be seem or if so under different circumstances than if you are vaccinated. And no visitors even to accompany someone.

    Is that “political” ? I don’t think so. If you have religious or similar objections? I don’t see any signage that indicates ones are offered.

    I’d be curious to know what Steve encountered in his travel including the plane.

    1. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      In the terminals, I’d put mask “compliance” at 95 percent or so, with many exposed noses (what a joke.)….On the plane, everybody fully masked that I saw. In the Richmond terminal I saw a cop making rounds to remind people, a couple of whom took it off again after he moved on. I have little faith in the mask. I’ve said that. I’ve had the shots and they will work or they won’t but I won’t cower anymore.

      1. DJRippert Avatar

        I have traveled a lot this summer – Alaska, Chicago,. New Orleans, Las Vegas. Mask wearing compliance in the airports and on the planes has been close to 100%. Of course, as soon as I can get an ice cold beer in an airport bar or on the plane … the mask is off. But that’s still compliant.

      2. When I flew in August, compliance was fairly low. Lots of people wearing masks in the airport and on planes below their nose or on their chin. What’s the flight attendant supposed to do. Sometimes they would put it up for the flight attendant, then right back down after they left. Not a good experience for me.

      3. killerhertz Avatar

        Ya’ll see the photo of McAuliffe not wearing a mask on a train this summer yapping on his phone when they were “mandatory”. Exactly.

  3. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    I am really getting tired of the “Vaxx freedom” filings on this blog. By insisting on vaccinations, you are saving lives. There are many stories about how people who refused the shots ended up getting COVID. They either die or take hospital beds from people deathly sick from other health issues. Yes, it is incredibly selfish.

    Instead of dealing with the issue, we get Kerry Dougherty. I do not find her vax views wink-wink, pixie cute. I deem them dangerous and irresponsible. So are a lot of other posts here. I should just refuse to read them.

    1. And I’m tired of condescending lectures from the intelligensia. And I’m tired of people advocating that the unvaccinated be left to die. That’s hate speech based on a hatred of Donald Trump. Blacks and Hispanics are the two groups with the lowest vaccination rates. Those two groups voted overwhelmingly for Biden. President Biden and VP Harris both expressed doubts about vaccinations about a year ago. You reap what you sow. I was vaccinated as soon as I could be vaccinated, but that’s my decision. I hope you didn’t read this response.

    2. Packer Fan Avatar

      Those vaccinations for the eight New Orleans Saints coaches really helped them, didn’t they? I’m with Jim Bacon’s friend Jerry. I’m a believer and if it’s God’s will that I get COVID, I’m OK with that and I trust Him to heal me on this side or the other. I’ve traveled more (by completely full airplanes) in the last 12 months than in the prior 24, been in some of the busiest airports in the US, and in meetings with lots of not so socially distanced people and haven’t had so much as a runny nose. I spend plenty of time outdoors, get plenty of exercise and take a number of nutritional supplements, have never taken a flu shot and it’s been about a decade since I’ve been sick, and I’m 58 years old and all the credit for that goes to God.

      1. Stephen Haner Avatar
        Stephen Haner

        Knock on wood, brother, you are playing Russian Roulette with two rounds in the cylinder. The data is holding firm that with the shots, severe disease and death are very small chances, especially with no comorbidity conditions.

        1. DJRippert Avatar

          But HE’S playing Russian Roulette with HIS health. Not my health and not your health … beyond the possibility of contracting a breakthrough infections that would be like getting a cold.

          If I told you I smoked a pack a day (I don’t) would you urge my employer to fire me?

          1. Stephen Haner Avatar
            Stephen Haner

            But of course…. 🙂

        2. Packer Fan Avatar

          Without the shots, I have a very small chance of death from COVID. And by the way, whether we get the shots or not, we all have a 100% chance of death. Some people have a fear of that, presumably because they’re afraid of not knowing what happens next. I don’t have that problem and thank God each morning for every He gives me.

    3. Matt Adams Avatar

      Simple solution, don’t read.

      “I deem them dangerous and irresponsible. So are a lot of other posts here. I should just refuse to read them.”

      “Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.”

    4. killerhertz Avatar

      It’s really tiring responding to misinformed people. You vaccinate a population for the safety of others if the vaccine reduces the spread. The current vaccines are leaky in that you still shed SARS-COV-2. Anecdotally, highly vaccinated populations (Israel, UK, Singapore, etc. etc. etc.) are heaving case loads similar to last year.

      They *might* reduce symptoms of COVID by bootstrapping your immune system, but that’s not what is advertised or what was methodologically studied. In that case, it most definitely should be up to the individual to weigh the risks of the “therapy” with the risks of adverse reactions.

      Leave it to the cathedral to botch the job yet again. Signs of a failing empire…

    5. The Amazing Criswell Avatar
      The Amazing Criswell

      It’s my body and my choice. And that is that.

      Maybe you’ve heard about that?

    6. Merchantseamen Avatar

      If your vax works, why do you care if I am not vaxed?
      If your mask works , why do you care if my face is free?
      If your mask and your vax works and you are still frightened STAY HOME!!!!!!

    7. Merchantseamen Avatar

      If your vax works, why do you care if I am not vaxed?
      If your mask works , why do you care if my face is free?
      If your mask and your vax works and you are still frightened STAY HOME!!!!!!

    8. Let’s try reason.
      Does anyone dispute the general proposition that vaccines work? Of course, this was the historic definition of a shot that PREVENTS infection. So the COVID vax is not a vax, even though the CDC just changed the definition in an effort to lovingly force you to take the experimental remedy.
      So, back to “real” vaccines – even in that world, there were medical and religious exemptions…and nobody cared! The world didn’t end.
      Does the COVID vax work? Certainly not as advertised. Do I really need the COVID vax (speaking for all rational human beings, not just me)? If I am at a statistical zero% risk and have no comorbidities, and I know there are risks with the “vaccine” and believe natural immunity is better, why wouldn’t I live life and if I get it be inconvenienced for a few days? I think it is selfish that you Leftists vote for bigger and bigger government and tear up the fabric of society. Also, your stories are cherry picked support the narrative “anecdotes.” Here’s an anecdote – 3 of my kids have had it …and survived! The Black Death didn’t come…
      Look at what is happening in Israel and just ask yourself, is it possible, maybe, the benefit of the experimental gene therapy has been oversold. That maybe the crazy want to get natural immunity people have a better idea? Like how we have understood epidemiology for the last 100 years or so?
      Do you know the mass vaccination of people who are not at risk could be causing the virus to mutate quicker? Do you know some genetic diversity is actually a protection against the virus killing all mankind? (If you vaccinate everybody and the virus mutates in a way to affect all the vaccinated, you have put all of humanity at risk.) Why not the “vaccine” AND therapeutics? Why fight with one hand behind out back? So, to summarize for the millionth time for you wannabe tyrants, if you want the shot get the shot, but don’t mandate it. Try persuasion with real science. They have failed at persuasion so far.

  4. DJRippert Avatar

    Someday I’ll understand how the unvaccinated threaten the health of the vaccinated given the assumption that the vaccines work. It may be selfish in that the unvaccinated are taking chances with their own health and they may get sick or die making their families very sad. Same as smokers. But what can the unvaccinated do to me? Give me a cold? Kind of like seasonal flu season?

    As far as mutations … please. Like global warming this is a global problem. The Delta variant was first detected in the United Kingdom on February 22 and in the U.S. a day later. By the end of March, this variant had been detected in Ireland, Singapore, Germany, Denmark, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Finland, Greece, Belgium, Sweden, South Korea, Uganda, Japan, Guadeloupe, Sint Maarten, and Switzerland — and this is in late February and March, when international air travel was a fraction of what it normally is.

    The next variant is likely to occur in India (40% have at least one shot), Russia (31%), Indonesia (24%), Nigeria (1.8%). If that happens and the variant is highly contagious it will be in the US within a few weeks no matter how many angry speeches Bird Brained Biden gives about sort-of, kind-of mandating vaccinations in the US.

    And speaking of Biden … he claimed boosters would be available on Sept 20. That’s next Monday. Anybody care to wager wether I’ll be able to get a booster on Monday?

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      Any thought that those who cannot get vaccinated are at risk? Likewise, any thought that the next variant could be even more infectious to children?

      In terms of smokers – who not only endanger themselves but others with their smoking – do they have a “right” to smoke where others are or do we restrict their “freedom”?

      In terms of Biden and the Boosters – There is disagreement on the science. All we need now is for people to say that since the scientists themselves don’t agree, of course, we should now ignore the science and let “smart people”with no competence in epistemology tell us how to proceed.

  5. DJRippert Avatar

    I heard one professional athlete explain his religious objection to getting vaccinated in terms of his belief that the vaccines were developed (in part) through the use of stem cells from aborted babies. He said he will not participate in anything that was developed in any way through abortions.

    I have no idea if he was right or wrong about the vaccines but I can understand his point regarding research using aborted babies. If you believe abortion is murder then I can see why you would object to participating in something that was developed using the product of that murder.

    And before the screeching …. I am not taking sides on this matter – just retelling what I heard.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      I read that the Afghan refugees are coming down with contagious diseases that they have not been vaccinated against in childhood like we are.

      If they have objections to being vaccinated against all contagious diseases, okay?

  6. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Hmm, funny. The Draft Board wouldn’t accept my personal choice exception.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      You mean you were FORCED to register? Jezus…

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        Can’t imagine the vaccines they give ya… oooowheeee!

      2. Matt Adams Avatar

        The Selective Service System is a result of Federal Code, aka Law. That requires all males (to include immigrants) to register within 30 days of their 18th birthday.

        Without that registration you cannot apply for Federal Student Aid or citizenship.

        The difference between that and the current vaccine “mandate” is one was passed by congress and one is being attempted through EO without standing.

        I get that those difference will be lost on you, so I just took this time to point out the fact that the two of you lickspittles are brainless.

    2. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      Way easier to get a vaccine religious exemption than conscientious objector status…

      1. Matt Adams Avatar

        Correct, it only requires simply saying it is against my deeply held religious beliefs. If you are questioned, you can sue because they cannot legal require any form of evidence.

        There is also the caveat that even conscientious objectors are required to register for the draft.

      2. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        Yep, it’s against my religion to be vaccinated, but this, and I quote, is okay:
        “And I went up there, I said, “Shrink, I want to kill. I mean, I wanna, I wanna kill. Kill. I wanna, I wanna see, I wanna see blood and gore and guts and veins in my teeth. Eat dead burnt bodies. I mean kill, kill, KILL, KILL.”
        And I started jumpin up and down yelling, “KILL, KILL, ” and he started jumpin up and down with me and we was both jumping up and down yellin’, “KILL, KILL.” And the sargent came over, pinned a medal on me, sent me down the hall, said, “You’re our boy.” (Arlo Gutherie, Alice’s Restaurant)

  7. Stephen Haner Avatar
    Stephen Haner

    Oddly, even surprisingly, there is not a push back toward “lockdowns,” which I take as a sign the Powers That Be have determined they didn’t work, and did more harm than good. I do see a lot of voluntary mitigation, use of masks, etc — even widespread in Texas last week. The vulnerable or afraid know how to protect themselves (or think they do.) More than once we sat in very empty restaurants. Of course that also reflects that San Antonio convention business is still in the tank.

    Clearly Biden has decided that his tumbling approval numbers are due in part to his premature “Mission Accomplished” moment with COVID at the 4th of July. So he is getting tough, IMHO, for political rather than health reasons. That proposed OSHA mandate for all employers is not coming into play all that quickly, but first Newsom in California and now McAuliffe in Virginia can play the “Republicans want to roll Granny off the cliff” game they love so well. Even with Republicans like Youngkin who are openly saying people should get the shots. If you don’t support MANDATES, you support killing people is the claim….

    The polling I saw more than a month ago indicated public support overall for masks, but the situation was not the same with mandatory vaccinations. Perhaps that has changed. But once again, as has been the case for 18 months, the real pandemic is partisan politics. And yes, it is important to point out that the vaccine resistance (we’re beyond hesitancy) remains strong among the black community, and that needs equal discussion as the resistance among other groups. The same “Inshallah” attitude, “In God’s Hands”, is also at play among some white Virginians.

  8. This is a thoughtful article, but there is so much more to it than just the great, unwashed ignorant snake handlers (I am being facetious – this is how the elites view the “religious.”)
    Prior to 2016, we lived in a not totally crazy world.
    Elections were over on that day. Somehow, OMB won and Hillary et al weren’t prepared to steal the votes needed. That’s why the networks held off until 3 in the morning when it was clear Trump had won.
    So, all norms had to drop and we have had 5 years of norms being destroyed.
    How come RUSSIA didn’t destroy democracy, but looking into 2020 will? Impeached twice? But no prosecution for Hunter or Joe? Censorship?
    George Korda posted a greatest hits of Dem vaccine hesitancy pre-election recently, including AnimatronJoe and SortaBlackHillary…
    Then we got the KungFlu…
    First, no one finds the CDC gain of function research funding…troubling? Then we handle this entirely differently from all prior history. Lockdowns don’t work. Masks don’t work. Then mandates violating federal law and the Nuremberg Code and every medical system’s patients rights – all trashed for a type of flu that has a casualty rate of less than 1 in 400? And we know who in that cohort are at risk! Why the insistence on vaccines only? Why not vaccines AND therapeutics at the same time? Add to this that people have genuine medical concerns with the COVID “vax” – by the way, when you change the definition of “vaccination” mid-tyrannical, propaganda push, it sorta seems you aren’t winning the argument. Most people choose to get vaccinated. If the “science” is solid, you don’t need to mandate. Shouldn’t they know about natural immunity, which was understood to be sufficient for the last 100 years? Why is the FDA prohibiting the therapeutics and inhibiting the Doctor-patient relationship? Do you know the gays HATED Dr. St. Fau(x)ci during the great AIDS scare? It is estimated the Dr. St. Caused 17,000 deaths by refusing to acknowledge Bactrim worked in preventing the end stage lethal pneumonia for the AIDS patients? Sound familiar?
    In the sane world we used to live in, anybody could claim a medical or religious exemption to long accepted vaccines…and the world didn’t end. Virginia colleges did not have a vax requirement until 1986. How did those prior survive? And I will argue the VA 1986 statute is a waste of time. Probably 700,000 or so students over the years, 4 pages taking 2 hours, then the exemption forms for those claiming exemptions. On the receiving end, probably an hour of time compiling and filing. 2.1 million hours and 3 million pieces of paper. 70 years times 365 days times 24 hours = 613,200 hours – about 3.4 lives. Do you think ANY life has been saved by that law?
    Color me skeptical…
    So there are plenty of legitimate reasons to not want the vax and we need to get back to that sane world where nobody cared.
    The elites will have no compunction on using medical tyranny to achieve their ends.

  9. HB Atkinson Avatar
    HB Atkinson

    Wow! Best article I have read on here in a long time. Thank you, Jim Bacon, for allowing someone to give credit to God and have a different world view without slamming him. I’m with Jerry but I had the C virus and survived and how have the antibodies. I’m with Jerry as well in that I believe God will take care of me no matter what.

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