Religious Exemption Claims On The Rise With Increased Vaccine Mandates
Though no major denomination opposes the covid vaccine -- and some are actively telling church leaders not to sign exemption forms -- more Americans are citing religion as a reason they won't get the shot. News outlets examine a host of questions surrounding religious exemptions.
Salt Lake Tribune:
LDS Church Tells Its Leaders In California Not To Help Members Avoid Vaccine Mandates
Latter-day Saint leaders in California have been told not to sign “religious exemption” forms for anti-vax members who want to dodge vaccination mandates by citing their faith. The issue has arisen in that state because it now requires vaccines for health care workers, teachers and others. Some members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have asked their lay bishops to support their applications to receive religious waivers from their employers. (Fletcher Stack, 9/10)
San Diego Union-Tribune:
San Diego County Healthcare Workers Seek Vaccine Exemptions
President Biden’s new COVID-19 vaccination mandate requires all federal workers and contractors, including all healthcare workers in the nation, to receive their shots or lose their jobs. But administration officials said last week that the new federal vaccination program would allow anyone to request an exemption on “narrow” religious grounds or if they had a qualifying disability, loopholes that are similar in California, which announced a vaccination mandate for healthcare workers on Aug. 5 that takes effect Sept. 30. Sharp HealthCare, San Diego’s largest health system, reported that it had received more than 700 religious exemption requests, with UC San Diego Health receiving 610 and Scripps Health more than 400. Those numbers represent about 3% of each organization’s total workforce, about 16,000 to 22,000 workers. (Sisson, 9/12)
Dallas Morning News:
Methodist Health System Caves On Vaccine Mandate Exemptions, Religious Freedom Group Says
A religious freedom group that threatened legal action against Dallas-based Methodist Health System said the health care provider granted religious exemptions this week to four workers who were initially denied, as well as to “many more” employees. Florida-based Liberty Counsel criticized Methodist Health System and several other large corporations for denying religious exemptions to employees who didn’t want to adhere to corporate mandatory vaccination policies. Liberty Counsel sent a letter to Methodist Health on Tuesday threatening legal action if the exemptions weren’t awarded by Friday. (Arnold, 9/12)
The New York Times:
Covid Vaccine Resisters Seek Religious Exemptions. But What Counts?
Major religious traditions, denominations and institutions are essentially unanimous in their support of the vaccines against Covid-19. But as more employers across the country begin requiring Covid vaccinations for workers, they are butting up against the nation’s sizable population of vaccine holdouts who nonetheless see their resistance in religious terms — or at least see an opportunity. Vaccine-resistant workers are sharing tips online for requesting exemptions to the requirements on religious grounds; others are submitting letters from far-flung religious authorities who have advertised their willingness to help. (Graham, 9/11)
As Vaccine Mandates Multiply, So Do Requests For Religious Exemptions
Acouple dozen people asked the Buffalo Diocese for letters supporting a religious exemption from a Covid-19 vaccination. The University at Buffalo and other area colleges and universities granted several hundred exemptions from their mandatory vaccine policy for students, mostly for faith reasons. A national religious liberty organization is threatening to sue New York State over a vaccine mandate for health care workers that doesn’t include a religious exemption. (Tokasz, 9/13)
Religious Exemption For COVID Vaccine: Who Can Get One?
As the COVID-19 crisis deepens and communities across the country struggle with a shortage of hospital beds, support is falling for religious exemptions to vaccine mandates. In March, 56% of U.S. adults favored offering exemptions to religious objectors. By June, that figure had dropped four percentage points to 52%, according to Public Religion Research Institute. In general, Americans are skeptical of those who say vaccine mandates, like the one proposed this month by President Joe Biden that will affect private employers with more than 100 workers, violate their religious freedom. (Dallas, 9/11)
What Constitutes A "Sincerely Held" Religious Exemption To A Vaccine Mandate?
No major religious denomination in the U.S. opposes vaccination outright. But an individual's "sincerely held" religious belief does not have to be part of an organized-religion mandate to be considered a valid reason for exemption from getting the vaccine. "It can be a personal, sincerely held religious belief which arises from the very nature of freedom of religion articulated in the First Amendment," said Domenique Camacho Moran, a labor attorney at New York-based law firm Farrell Fritz. (Cerullo, 9/13)
COVID Vaccine: What To Know About Religious Exemptions
As more and more workplaces and colleges require employees and students to be vaccinated, some Hoosiers are responding with an increasingly familiar refrain: It's against my religion. Ivy Tech Community College, for example, has received roughly 230 requests for religious exemptions since mandating the COVID-19 vaccine for certain students. (Xu, 9/13)