Religious Exemption

Good news: There has been an enormous uptick in Americans who are actively religious.

Bad news: It’s all a sham.

Since the Covid 19 vaccine is becoming mandated in more and more areas of employment, requests for “religious exemptions” have skyrocketed.

There are 2,600 Los Angeles Police Department employees claiming “sincerely held religious beliefs” in order to avoid vaccine requirements. The trend is nationwide and growing.

So what is a “sincerely held religious belief?” Great question. Enshrined in the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers must make reasonable accommodations for employees whose religious beliefs require them to abstain from medical requirements; including vaccinations.

It was further codified by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to say that the religious exemption does not have to be connected to any recognized religious organization. It can be new, unusual or “seem illogical or unreasonable to others.” It cannot, however, be for any political or social ideas.

To be clear, all mainline Protestant denominations are encouraging people to get vaccinated; including the United Church of Christ. Most of the mainstream religious objections to the vaccine come from anti-choice churches that believe fetal stem cell tissue was used in the early development of the vaccines. Something that developers deny.

Despite this debate, even the Roman Catholic Church is encouraging vaccinations.

In the south, where opposition to the vaccine is high, an Arkansas health system is requiring those employees who are seeking a religious exemption to also commit to not using Tylenol, Pepto-Bismol, Preparation H or Tums as these are medicines that were explicitly developed using fetal stem cell tissue.

Alternatively, Tulsa, Oklahoma pastor Jackson Lahmeyer (who is also running for the US Senate as a Republican) has made available a downloadable religious exemption form on his church website which has been accessed by some 35,000 people. In exchange for a donation to the church, pastor Lahmeyer will personally sign the form for you.

Gloria Copeland, wife of right-wing televangelist Kenneth Copeland (who, by the way, is begging his viewers to send him cash to support his private jet so he won’t have to deal with vaccine mandates to travel—something he calls “the mark of the beast”), has encouraged people to simply “inoculate yourself with the word of God.” She also claims that the flu can be prevented by repeating “I’ll never get the flu. I’ll never get the flu.”

It is high time to end religious exemptions for vaccinations. There is absolutely not a yardstick for measuring the sincerity of one’s religious beliefs and the lack of any such yardstick means that anything goes.

The three Covid vaccines are safe and were created by God through talented scientists. They are given to us as a blessing to keep God’s people healthy and protect our communities.

Religion should not be used as a cover for political lunacy that puts our communities medically at risk during this pandemic.

See you in church,
–Rev. Dominic