I doesn’t matter much whether you look at vaccine resistance in Southern Manitoba or the United States. In either case it has some common characteristics.
For one it is often found among conservative religious people and conservative political people. The common denominator seems to be distrust of government. Allan Levine described it this way in the Winnipeg Free Press:
“You can only shake your head in dismay at such distorted thinking. From Winkler to Arkansas, the unvaccinated, who are now petri dishes for the Delta variant and putting themselves and everyone else at risk, explain their untenable decision (apart from the tiny minority with medical reasons) in a variety of ways. This includes everything from fearing needles and concern about insufficient medical data to believing crazy conspiracy theories about the vaccine being a nefarious plot to implant tracking microchips in arms.
Mostly, though, their position is about not trusting government, often combined with fundamentalist religion (as a Winkler resident put it, “I trust in God. I trust he’ll get us through this”), and anti-intellectualism and anti-science.”
In both countries the adherents to the theology of vaccine resistance share similar political views based in deep feelings of mistrust about governments. As Levine said:
In the U.S., it is no surprise that these sentiments are most prevalent in Republican-dominated states such as Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, Wyoming, Florida and Tennessee, where rejecting the effectiveness of the vaccine is official policy — as are the absurd denunciations and threats directed at Dr. Anthony Fauci for his work managing the pandemic and promoting the vaccine (in Florida, the Republican slogan is “Choose Freedom over Faucism” and there are T-shirts emblazoned with “Don’t Fauci my Florida”).
The ideology of vaccine resistance is ultimately based on a rejection of science in favor of fundamental religious beliefs that reject science and evidence based decision making in favor of faith in the cause. For example, in the late 19th century and early 20th century Christians increasingly battled the advocates of scientific reasoning in favor of “truths” learned by faith, which usually involved beliefs that had been inculcated by parents in their children in hopes of assuring for them eternal life and avoiding eternal damnation.
Charles Darwin, perhaps the greatest scientist of all time, developed a theory of evolution by natural selection that had a profound effect on science. His theories were so deep and well argued that they changed the course of history and even religion. Darwin shredded the religious view of the day which presumed that the world we live in was created by God with a divine purpose in mind. This resulted in the igniting of a debate that rocked the 19th century world and continued unabated until at least the famous Scopes trial in 1925. In many places religious views strained to resist the new science which they felt contradicted their faith. As a result, as Levine said,
“during the summer of 1925 in a small courtroom in Dayton, Tenn., (southeast of Nashville). By then, the very same states whose governments and citizens currently question or reject the vaccine — Tennessee, Oklahoma, Florida, Mississippi, and Arkansas — had passed legislation banning the teaching of evolution.’
Today in southern Manitoba communities like Winkler and Steinbach reflect the same trend—namely, conservative evangelical religion and conservative politics, against modern science. Both groups give a pass to truth seeking in favour of faith based thinking.
I know that some believe this is opinion controversial if not wrong, but it seems to me that everyday in this pandemic there is new evidence that supports it.