US evangelist Franklin Graham is encouraging people to take the covid-19 vaccine as he reveals he and his wife have already been inoculated.
In a Facebook post, the son of Billy Graham said he advocates vaccines and believes Jesus would have done the same.
"I have even been asked, if Jesus were physically walking on earth now, would He be an advocate for vaccines? My answer was that based on the parable of the Good Samaritan in the Bible, I would have to say - yes. I think Jesus Christ would advocate for people using vaccines and medicines to treat suffering and save lives," Graham said.
Graham mentioned that the work of Samaritan's Purse in working with Covid-19 hospital wards has allowed him to see first-hand the suffering brought by the pandemic.
"I also have staff and their family members who contracted the virus and spent weeks on a ventilator and months hospitalised as a result," he said. "I don't want anyone to have to go through that. Vaccines have worked for polio, smallpox, measles, the flu and so many other deadly illnesses - why not for this virus?" he continued.
A recent Pew Research survey suggests 62 per cent of Protestants in the US will "definitely or probably" be vaccinated, compared to 36 per cent who say they "definitely or probably" will not get the jab.
John Fea, a historian at Messiah University who studies evangelicals in the US, told Religion News Services that "there's a long history of anti-science within American evangelicalism" and added that for many Christians "getting a vaccine is a lack of faith".
Graham's Facebook post also encouraged people to make an informed choice when deciding about the vaccine.
"Since there are different vaccines available, my recommendation is that people do their research, talk to their doctor, and pray about it to determine which vaccine, if any, is right for them. My wife and I have both had the vaccine; and at 68 years old, I want to get as many more miles out of these old bones as possible!" Franklin Graham concluded.
According to the public agency Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 85.5 million people have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine in the US.