Stephen A. Smith Apologizes to Jehovah’s Witnesses After Incorrectly Claiming They’re Against the Covid Vaccine

Stephen A. Smith issued an apology to Jehovah’s Witnesses Thursday during the broadcast of “First Take” on ESPN, walking back comments from last week suggesting adherents to the religion don’t believe in vaccines.

“I could have and should have been more clear in that discussion because I fully understand that Jehovah’s Witnesses have no specific opposition to the vaccine,” he said. “I did not make that clear, so I want to make sure I make that now and my apologies for the mishap.”

His initial comments were made during a discussion of Golden State Warriors star Andrew Wiggins, who achieved the first All-Star selection of his career in the NBA. Wiggins is a Jehovah’s Witness, which Smith brought up while discussing the athlete’s hesitancy to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the league’s refusal to grant him a religious exemption to vaccination rules.

Ultimately, Smith said Wiggins decided to get the jab because his team needed him to.

On a FAQ page on the Jehovah’s Witness website, the answer to, “Are Jehovah’s Witnesses opposed to vaccination?” is a clearly-stated, “No.”

“No. Jehovah’s Witnesses are not opposed to vaccination. We view vaccination as a personal decision for each Christian to make. Many of Jehovah’s Witnesses choose to get vaccinated,” says the site.

Smith has been known to apologize on-air when his comments earn him criticism, which happens frequently. In July 2021, he apologized broadly to the Asian community for his comments on Japanese-born baseball sensation Shohei Ohtani. His apology, specifically, was for declaring the previous day, “I don’t think it helps that the number-one face is a dude that needs an interpreter so you can understand what the hell he’s saying in this country.”

Later that same day day, he doubled down on Twitter, writing, “Amazing that folks still don’t know me after all these years. If I am wrong about something, I will apologize. Especially if I unintentionally offend ANY GROUP of people — because it’s the right thing to do. Period! I’m BLACK. I would know!”

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