Biden face-plants on evangelical outreach

The White House's first attempt to sell the reluctant population on COVID-19 vaccines was a lesson in what not to do

President Biden.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Getty Images, iStock)

White evangelicals have consistently stood apart from other major demographics in America in their views on the COVID-19 pandemic. Evangelical fears of infection declined more quickly than average; evangelicals were uncommonly likely to approve of former President Donald Trump's pandemic policy; and, early on, they were unusual in relying on Trump's coronavirus briefings as their top source of pandemic news. It comes as no surprise, then, that white evangelicals are also unique in their vaccine hesitancy, with 45 percent saying they "definitely or probably" will refuse the COVID-19 vaccine.

That number may well dwindle of its own accord, because many of the vaccine hesitant simply want to wait and see what happens after others get dosed. The Biden administration, understandably, is pushing for a faster shift — but the most visible piece of that project to date was stunningly clumsy as evangelical outreach, maybe even counterproductive. Is this indicative of how the White House plans to deal with white evangelicals for the next four years?

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Bonnie Kristian

Bonnie Kristian was a deputy editor and acting editor-in-chief of She is a columnist at Christianity Today and author of Untrustworthy: The Knowledge Crisis Breaking Our Brains, Polluting Our Politics, and Corrupting Christian Community (forthcoming 2022) and A Flexible Faith: Rethinking What It Means to Follow Jesus Today (2018). Her writing has also appeared at Time Magazine, CNN, USA Today, Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, and The American Conservative, among other outlets.