Uncommon Sense

July 23, 2021

Are Religious Exceptions to Vaccination Requirements Valid?

According to the LA Times:

“Many universities, including the University of California, are requiring vaccination for all students, staff and faculty returning to campus. Many employers, public and private, are doing so as well. These policies are essential to protect public health. The virulent Delta variant of the Coronavirus has made it imperative to ensure vaccination of as many people as possible.

“Unfortunately, though, many of these policies have an exception for those who have a religious objection to vaccination. These are neither required by the law nor are they desirable as a matter of policy because they make it possible for anyone to circumvent the vaccine mandate.

“The UC’s mandatory vaccination policy, for example, has an exception for those who object on religious grounds. It states that this is because the law requires such an exemption, declaring: “The University is required by law to offer reasonable accommodations to . . . employees who object to vaccination based on their sincerely-held religious belief, practice, or observance.”

“This is simply wrong as a matter of law. No law requires such a religious exemption. In terms of free exercise of religion under the 1st Amendment, the Supreme Court ruled more than 30 years ago in Employment Division vs. Smith that the Constitution does not require exceptions to general laws for religious beliefs. In an opinion by Justice Antonin Scalia, the court said that as long as a law is neutral, not motivated by a desire to interfere with religion and of general applicability to all individuals, it cannot be challenged based on free exercise of religion. In June, in Fulton vs. City of Philadelphia, the court reaffirmed this legal test.

“Laws that require vaccination are the epitome of a neutral law of general applicability: a requirement that applies to everyone and that was not motivated by a desire to interfere with religion. Even if this were not so, the government can infringe on religious freedom if its action is necessary to achieve a compelling interest.”

Okay, now let us consider the “religious” basis for such objections. Most of the objectors in this country are Christians, so I will comment from that viewpoint.

Do you see anywhere in the New Testament, or even the Old for that matter, where it says “Thou shalt not vaccinate”? or “Thou shalt not take medicine of any kind?” or “Thou shalt not befoul your body, the temple of your soul?” Anything? No? Hmm, interesting.

Religion is the third rail of American politics, not Social Security or any other policy. (For those not getting the reference to a “third rail” it comes from electric trains in which the wheels of the cars travel on the normal two rails but a third rail is added to supply the electric power needed to make the train go. Touching either of the two and the third rail results in a massive amount of electricity coursing through your body and usually death. S)

Religion is such a hot button issue, if someone claims a religious basis for and exception to law or rules, we accept that without comment. We do not require people to fill out a form explaining the source of the objection with appropriate references and citations. Nope, we just accept what is claimed as being valid. (What can you expect from a government that accepted Scientology as a legitimate religion?)

Basically what we have here is people who are saying “Neener, neener, neener, you can’t make me! Uh, ‘cause, ‘cause . . . the Bible says so!”

No, it does not and we have to stop pretending that thousand year old documents, especially those which claim that diseases come from demon possession are fit guides to modern life.

There is a long history of “religious exemption” claims from fundamentalist theists. They opposed smallpox vaccination because it was against God’s will. They have opposed many other medical treatments as being “against God’s will” without showing how the heck they know what God’s will is. And endangering many of the rest of us. I think they are opposing modernity as a whole because they are losing an understanding of how they fit into our culture. Instead if white neighbors being the norm, now they neighbors “of color,” and . . . gasp . . . people of different cultures. It just offends their sense of the way things s’posed to be.

17 Comments »

  1. Individual rights in this country have usually trumped the collective.
    I wonder how Covid is virtually exempt from HIPPA? One is not required to divulge their medical records but somehow this one escapes that.

    Like

    Comment by jim- — July 23, 2021 @ 9:50 am | Reply

    • A long standing requirement in many states is for children to be vaccinated up the yin-yang before starting school. Did that not require validation? And I don’t know the HIPPA law, was that based on employment or otherwise?

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — July 23, 2021 @ 9:56 am | Reply

      • HIPPA is basically your doctor can’t divulge your medical records without your permission. Is it proper to ask an individual to divulge such personal, medical information? That is a slippery slope imo.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by jim- — July 23, 2021 @ 10:03 am | Reply

        • Ah, now I remember. I have to sign a form when I visit a new doctor explaining that.

          When I was in college we were still debating “loyalty oaths” as a condition of employment. I had to sign one to work in the college dorms, albeit with sever clauses struck out because they were declared illegal. We had to strike out those clauses because they didn’t want to print new forms so I struck out all of the clauses and signed, he, he, he, he.

          Liked by 1 person

          Comment by Steve Ruis — July 23, 2021 @ 10:24 am | Reply

  2. “God’s will be done.” A familiar phrase among the devoted. “I trust God.” Another favorite. But ONLY when it comes to confirming something the person wants. Otherwise, all bets are off.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Nan — July 23, 2021 @ 9:59 am | Reply

    • Yeah, these are the people who claim “No one can know the mind of God” which is quickly followed by them saying “It is God’s will that. . . .”

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — July 23, 2021 @ 10:01 am | Reply

  3. Absolutely love ve your blogs! Thanks

    Like

    Comment by Sylvia — July 23, 2021 @ 12:16 pm | Reply

  4. Their whole argument is simply ridiculous on the face of it. There are times when individual rights must give way to the rights of society as a whole. When the behavior of an individual or individuals threatens the welfare of others, we can and must act to restrict the rights of the dangerous individual. We do this all the time. We have building codes to maintain safety, fire regulations, fireworks prohibitions… the list goes on and on. There are dozens, even hundreds of instances where we restrict a person’s so-called “freedoms” to protect the rest of society.

    I still think the human race is going to be the first species in the history of the planet to stupid itself to death.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by grouchyfarmer — July 23, 2021 @ 3:25 pm | Reply

    • I couldn’t agree more!

      Like

      Comment by Steve Ruis — July 24, 2021 @ 8:27 am | Reply

    • What seems rather obvious to me is that certain individuals have no clue what this phrase even means: individual rights must give way to the rights of society as a whole.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Nan — July 24, 2021 @ 10:29 am | Reply

      • Preferably a minimum, but s’truth! The Founders were sure that citizen’s dedication to civil virtue would hold sway and now we have a polis that can’t define the term.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Steve Ruis — July 24, 2021 @ 4:27 pm | Reply

  5. I think a better approach is to stick with “Masking and social distancing are still required”. The only exceptions to this rule are 1. People who can demonstrate that they are fully vaccinated, or 2. People who can produce medical records and antibody tests to show that they have already had COVID, but don’t currently have an active infection. Everybody else has to stick with the original mask/social distance/telecommute rules from before we had vaccines. If they don’t wanna vaccinate, that’s fine, they can just do their classes on zoom. If they have privacy concerns, and don’t want to share their vaccination status, same thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Ubi Dubium — July 23, 2021 @ 3:43 pm | Reply

    • Yep, in California there was a law requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets while riding. Many bikers considered this an offense. I suggested that they could go helmet free, but that their insurance (still required) wouldn’t cover their personal injuries from an accident (or cover their bike’s damage either) because they are obviously participating in deliberate unsafe behaviors. They can have the freedom but it comes with consequences.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — July 24, 2021 @ 8:30 am | Reply

      • I never understood the anti helmet thing. I’ve been a motorcyclist since 1970 and I’ve always worn a helmet. It isn’t just for safety, it’s for pure comfort. Riding a bike at 70 mph without a helmet is downright painful. The wind noise will leave your ears ringing for hours, an insect strike can not only be painful but if you hit a big enough one like a large beetle it could cause you to lose control. The sun beating down on you… shudder. The claim that helmets reduce your vision and hearing is complete bollocks. Modern helmets don’t reduce your range of vision at all, and actually make it easier to hear. You don’t have the constant roar of wind noise deafening you.

        Once upon a time I was acquainted with a fellow who was an ER doctor in New York. They had a term for bikers who rode without helmets: Organ donors.

        Liked by 2 people

        Comment by grouchyfarmer — July 24, 2021 @ 1:35 pm | Reply

        • Out in Cali they invented a”helmet” that was more of a beanie or yamaka. Like the “helmets” they serve ice cream in at the ball parks. Organ donors, indeed!

          Liked by 1 person

          Comment by Steve Ruis — July 24, 2021 @ 4:25 pm | Reply

  6. “Do you see anywhere in the New Testament, or even the Old for that matter, where it says “Thou shalt not vaccinate”?”

    What many object to is something something abortion something. Some vaccine makers use fetal cell line material in their production. Others have used fetal cell line material in testing or in earlier work proving a concept for their vaccine design. But even the Pope has said it is perfectly okay to get vaccinated (He did).

    Like

    Comment by mark — July 25, 2021 @ 7:56 pm | Reply


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