MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WTVF) — The National Institutes of Health are making a plea to evangelical Christians to get vaccinated. Numbers of vaccination in that community are still very low compared to other religious groups.
Some say outreach can be difficult at a time of so much social media information, but one man believes his story and approach could change minds.
When your job centers around a microphone, you have a certain platform. That’s true for a singer/songwriter always on the road, always traveling and playing to churches across the country. This is Steve Bridgmon.
“I do about 180 dates a year,” Steve said. “I sing what’s called Christian country. It’s country music without the drinkin’ and divorcin’! That’s what we call it!”
Having a career centered around microphones is a sort of family tradition. Steve’s dad, also named Steve Bridgmon, was a broadcaster at radio station WBIO in Owensboro, Kentucky, usually covering all things motorsports.
“He had his own radio show called Let’s Talk Racing,” Steve said. “Everybody knew who he was. We were on two different streets, but we were going the same direction. He got what I did, and I got what he did.”
It was in the early days of the pandemic last year that Steve’s father was diagnosed with COVID-19. His health deteriorated quickly.
“He said, very plainly, ‘Me and the man upstairs had a little talk yesterday, because I don’t know if I’m going to get through this. I’m lying on my stomach, and I cannot breathe,’” Steve remembered. “You could hear him gasping for air.”
In the same week Steve’s sister died from cancer, he received more hard news.
“I got a text message saying my dad was gone,” Steve said. “I could see all these texts I sent that didn’t get a response. ‘You gotta fight this. You can do this.’”
It was Steve’s father who taught him what a privilege it is to have a platform, to have an audience. Steve figured it was time to use his microphone for a new purpose. In Steve’s travels to cities all over the country, he encounters people who are vaccine hesitant.
A Pew Research Center poll found that white evangelicals make up the lowest vaccination rates of the religious groups they tracked for the survey.
Steve said being too forceful in his message will just lose people.
“50% of my crowd’s gonna go, ‘Nuh uh. I don’t care what he has to say,’” he said.
He shares with them the story of his father and makes efforts to reach them one-on-one about vaccination.
“They’ll say, ‘I haven’t gotten it yet,’” said Steve. “If it’s one of those, I’ll say, ‘Why not? I’ll go with you!’ You can still believe in God and believe in science.”
As a tribute to a man who lived by microphones, Steve believes this is how his father would want his voice to continue reaching people.
“I think he’d be very proud,” said Steve. “I think he’d be happy that we’re helping others to get this thing over.”