White evangelicals are threatening America's efforts to reach herd immunity: report

White evangelicals in America are rejecting the coronavirus vaccine and threatening the country's goal of emerging from the pandemic by achieving herd immunity.

"The deeply held spiritual convictions or counterfactual arguments may vary. But across white evangelical America, reasons not to get vaccinated have spread as quickly as the virus that public health officials are hoping to overcome through herd immunity," the newspaper reported.

And they might not just be a threat to America.

"The opposition is rooted in a mix of religious faith and a longstanding wariness of mainstream science, and it is fueled by broader cultural distrust of institutions and gravitation to online conspiracy theories. The sheer size of the community poses a major problem for the country's ability to recover from a pandemic that has resulted in the deaths of half a million Americans. And evangelical ideas and instincts have a way of spreading, even internationally," the newspaper noted.

"There are about 41 million white evangelical adults in the U.S. About 45 percent said in late February that they would not get vaccinated against Covid-19, making them among the least likely demographic groups to do so, according to the Pew Research Center," The Times reported. "As vaccines become more widely available, and as worrisome virus variants develop, the problem takes on new urgency. Significant numbers of Americans generally are resistant to getting vaccinated, but white evangelicals present unique challenges because of their complex web of moral, medical, and political objections. The challenge is further complicated by longstanding distrust between evangelicals and the scientific community."