Can religion help overcome vaccine hesitancy in the Chattanooga area?

Staff photo by Wyatt Massey / The Rev. Steve Caudle, senior pastor of Greater Second Missionary Baptist Church, stands in the sanctuary of his church in Chattanooga on April 12, 2021. The pastor has worked with community partners to raise awareness about the COVID-19 vaccine and make sure people are getting appointments to get a dose.

The Rev. Steve Caudle is trying to save lives. Some days, that means signing people up for a COVID-19 vaccine appointment. Sundays, that means preaching about getting your shot.

"Ignorance enslaves us. My people perish due to a lack of knowledge, the Bible says. So, if it's truth and it's going to help people, it needs to come from that sacred desk," said Caudle, senior pastor of Greater Second Missionary Baptist Church, while gesturing toward the dark wooden lectern of the sanctuary.

"I don't care what people's personal opinions are. I don't care about their political persuasion. I could care less. If it's the truth, if it's going to save lives, it should be preached from that pulpit."

Local campaigns to address vaccine hesitancy are tapping leaders like Caudle to raise awareness and make sure people who want a shot get one.