8 Quick Facts From PRRI/IFYC Vaccine and Religious Exemption Poll

As concerns around the emerging Omicron variant rise, debates around vaccine mandates and exemptions are pressing, and refusal of the vaccine on grounds of religious exemptions is causing sharp divisions, and anger, among Americans. A survey released today (December 9) by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) and Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), shows the sharp divide among Americans on the role of religion in vaccine exemptions.  

The survey, titled Religious Identities and The Race Against the Virus – American Attitudes on Vaccination Mandates and Religious Exemptionsshows that the vast majority do not believe that the teachings of their religion prohibit vaccination.  Yet a majority of Americans still hold to the principle of religious freedom and that, within certain parameters, religious exemptions should still be allowed.   

Dr. Robert P. Jones, CEO and Founder of PRRI, commented, “The wide berth allowed for the expression and practice of religions, codified in our Constitution and laws, are bedrock American principles, but Americans also believe that principles of religious liberty are not absolute but rather should be balanced with the health and well-being of our communities.”   

Below is a list of Facts from the PRRI/IFYC Poll on Religious Exemptions and COVID-19 Vaccines: 

1. Only one in ten Americans (10%) believe the teachings of their religion prohibit COVID-19 vaccinations.  

2. Six in ten Americans (60%) believe that there are no valid religious reasons to refuse a COVID-19 vaccine. 

3. 59% of Americans, including majorities of every major religious group aside from white evangelicals, agree that too many people are using religion as an excuse to avoid vaccine requirements.   

4. Just under half, 45% of Americans believe no one should be granted a religious exemption to the COVID-19 vaccine. 

5. White evangelical Protestants (61%) are the only major religious group with majority support for granting religious exemptions to vaccines to anyone who claims one. However, majorities of other religious groups agree that exemptions should be granted for people belonging to a religious group with a record of refusing other vaccines, with 51% of Americans favoring a person who has a document from a religious leader certifying that receiving a COVID-19 vaccination goes against their religious beliefs.  

6. The majority of Americans (54%) are less supportive of allowing religious COVID-19 exemptions for children who would otherwise be required to get them. However, one in five parents of unvaccinated children under age 18 (20%) says they have requested or will request a religious exemption for their children. 

7. Majorities of Americans say religious exemption should be granted if someone has a document from a religious leader (51%), a record of refusing other vaccinations (55%), or belongs to a religious group that has a record of refusing other vaccines (57%). Fewer Americans (39%) believe anyone who says the vaccine goes against their religious beliefs should qualify for an exemption.

8. Two-thirds of Americans who are vaccinated (67%) agree that they are “angry at those who are refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and are putting the rest of us at risk.”  On the other side, more than seven in 10 unvaccinated Americans (71%) say they are “angry at those who think they have the right to tell me to get vaccinated against COVID-19.”    

#Interfaith is a self-paced, online learning opportunity designed to equip a new generation of leaders with the awareness and skills to promote interfaith cooperation online. The curriculum is free to Interfaith America readers; please use the scholarship code #Interfaith100. #Interfaith is presented by IFYC in collaboration with ReligionAndPublicLife.org.


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The opinions contained in this piece are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Interfaith Youth Core. Interfaith America encourages a wide range of views and strives to maintain a respectful tone with a goal of greater understanding and cooperation between people of different faiths, worldviews, and traditions.