Most U.S. adults are skeptical of the religious claims being cited by those seeking to avoid vaccination against COVID-19, according to a Pew Research Center report published March 31.

Respondents were presented the prompt, “Do you think that most people who say they have a religious objection to getting the COVID-19 vaccine…” and were given two possible responses.

A strong majority (67%) said these individuals “are just using religion as an excuse to avoid the vaccine,” while 31% said they “sincerely believe getting a COVID-19 vaccine is against their religion.”

The religiously unaffiliated (77%) were most likely to say people are using religious claims to avoid vaccination, followed by Catholics and white non-evangelical Protestants (both at 69%), Black Protestants (62%) and white evangelical Protestants (52%).

Despite perceptions of religious exemption claims, a similar majority (65%) of all respondents also affirm that “employers should allow employees who have religious objections to keep their jobs even if they decline to get the vaccine.”

Among the respondents who feel religious claims are being used as an excuse for vaccine avoidance, 37% said “objectors should keep their jobs” and 29% said “objectors should lose their jobs if there are vaccine mandates.”

By comparison, of 31% who said religious claims about COVID-19 vaccines are sincere, nearly all believe “objectors should keep their jobs,” with  only 3% saying “objectors should lose their jobs if there are vaccine mandates.”

Respondents without a religious affiliation (44%) were most likely to say that “employers with vaccine requirements should require employees who have religious objections to get the vaccine just like other employees, if they want to keep their job.”

Catholics and Black Protestants (both at 31%) were the next groups most likely to affirm this view, followed by white non-evangelical Protestants (30%) and white evangelicals (15%).

Overall, the nation is divided on whether there should be employer vaccine mandates, with 44% saying COVID-19 vaccination should be encouraged but not required, 29% that they should be required and 27% that they should neither be encouraged or required.

The full report is available here. The topline results are available here, and the methodology, noting a plus or minus 1.5 percentage point margin of error, is available here.

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