The Biden-Harris Administration continues to play an active role in the international COVID-19 public health and humanitarian response. To be effective, the United States believes that global efforts must include the broadest range of civil society, with equitable and meaningful inclusion of faith actors globally and religious leaders and institutions, many of whom are on the frontlines of responding to health and humanitarian crises. Many faith actors around the world have served in three essential roles throughout the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Faith actors’ role in overcoming vaccine hesitancy and building vaccine confidence – Some religious leaders and institutions are on the frontlines in their local communities responding to the COVID-19 health crisis and building awareness and public trust in the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines. These efforts help to build vaccine confidence. As they have in responding to previous health threats like HIV/AIDS and Ebola, faith-based outreach that supports science-based approaches can encourage vaccine acceptance and reassure communities of the trustworthiness of subject matter experts.
- Religious sites have played key roles in the medical response – Some faith actors have provided their places of worship and other infrastructure to create safe venues for administration of COVID-19 testing and to efficiently deliver the vaccines. Churches, mosques, temples, and other religious sites have become visible symbols of the community struggle to overcome the virus, and act as hubs for the COVID-19 response, with health workers, community leaders, and faith practitioners working collectively to administer both tests and vaccines.
- Faith actors continue to uphold human rights and religious freedom for all – Many faith actors have remained steadfast in their advocacy for an individual’s right to exercise their freedom of religion or belief and counter hate speech and incitement to violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many faith actors routinely use their platforms, networks, and other means to confront those using the pandemic to advance an agenda of racism, religious intolerance, and xenophobia.