Virtual ISFNR Lecture with Andrea Kitta: Religious Belief, Anti-masking, and Anti-Vaccination Sentiments During COVID-19

kitta sitting in front of a bookshelf with jack-o-lanterns in the background

The ISFNR Belief Narrative Network Online Lectures deal with folk beliefs of all kinds, and the narratives that are used to pass them on. The first week of each month, various international scholars present pre-recorded lectures on the subject of their choice which will later go on to be freely available on the ISFNR web site to anyone who wishes to make use of them as part of their research or in their teaching. The initial on-line showing is  nonetheless always followed by a half an hour live on-line zoom meeting in which those who attend will be able to ask the speaker questions. 

Andrea Kitta will present “God Gave Me an Immune System and that’s Good Enough for Me! Religious Belief, Anti-masking, and Anti-Vaccination Sentiments During COVID-19” on Friday, April 7 at 11:00 am (EDT). Join the Zoom meeting on April 7.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many outspoken religious groups declared that they didn’t need masks or vaccines because they were protected by God and the immune system He designed. This conflict between science and religion is not new, but highlights one area of vaccine hesitancy that is often misunderstood. In this presentation, I’ll explore the logic and belief of the intersection of religion, freedom, and the COVID-19 vaccine. In media interviews, when I’ve been asked about religious vaccine hesitancy, most outlets have assumed that smaller groups, such as the Amish or Jehovah’s Witnesses, are the most likely culprits instead of larger group like Catholics and Evangelical Christians. Even though the leaders of these denominations support vaccination, their followers often use otherwise dismissed arguments to justify their personal beliefs, demonstrating themselves as “true believers.” Historically, rejecting what church leaders say would have caused rejection from the group, however, in this brave new world, individuals justify their personal belief systems over the official belief systems.

Andrea Kitta is a folklorist with a specialty in medicine, belief, and the supernatural. She is also interested in Internet folklore, narrative, and contemporary (urban) legend. Her current research includes: vaccines, pandemic illness, contagion and contamination, stigmatized diseases, disability, health information on the Internet and COVID-19. Dr. Kitta is the recipient of the Bertie E. Fearing Award for Excellence in Teaching (2010-2011), received a Teacher/Scholar award from ECU (2015-16) and the Board of Governors Distinguished Professor for Teaching Award (2018-2019). Her monograph, Vaccinations and Public Concern in History: Legend, Rumor, and Risk Perception, won the Brian McConnell Book Award in 2012. Her monograph The Kiss of Death: Contagion, Contamination, and Folklore won the Chicago Folklore Prize and Brian McConnell Book Award in 2020.

We sometimes make mistakes, and we are happy to correct any errors that you may come across on our site. If you find an error, please let us know using the “submit a correction” link.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Share your news

Have some important news to share? We can help you get it out there! Fill out the submission form and send it our way.