10 Examples of Religious Exemption Requests for Covid-19 Vaccines (2022)

In the United States, employers have the responsibility to create a safe and unbiased work environment for people of different races and beliefs. Religious beliefs are one freedom protected in the workplace by Title VII of the US Civil Rights Act of 1964. In short, this civil right was put in place so employees never need to make the decision between their job and practicing their religion.

Since the announcement of the White House and President Joe Biden’s mandate on worker vaccinations, employers and employees alike have been researching how to handle religious exemptions. Under the mandate for all businesses with 100 employees or more, exemptions must be made for employees that hold sincere religious beliefs that prevent the employee from getting a COVID-19 vaccine.But how do employers and employees handle this delicate situation?

Whether you’re an employee or employer, it’s important to understand what the key steps that make up the religious exemption process. You’ll also need to know the type of information that should NOT be mentioned in a religious exemption and could result the denial of a request. Here’s a simple primer on exemption process and specific examples of religious exemption requests.

  • What you need to know before filing a religious exemption.
  • Exemption requests examples for Christians
  • Exemption requests examples for Buddhists
  • Understanding the religious exemption process.

What You Need to Know Before Filing a Religious Exemption

Whether you’re an employee or an employer, here’s the most important thing to remember about religious exemptions. These exemption requests must be about the employees religious beliefs, not any other topic.

One reason religious exemptions are rejected is they cite data that’s not religious in nature. This could include scientific data, politics, or health reasons. None of these reasons have anything to do with an employees deeply-held religious belief system so they don’t apply. If an employee mentions anything outside the scope of religion in the request, they are at risk of the request being denied. This is a religious exemption, not a political exemption.

One other important note is that you don’t need to be part of a major religion to qualify for a religious exemption. In fact, even atheists are protected by this right.

10 Examples of Religious Exemption Requests for Covid-19 Vaccines (1)

Symbol of Faith among Christians.

Exemption Request Examples for Christians

Ask your employer where to send an exemption request. In most cases, employees send the information to someone in the Human Resources department. If you work for a larger company there is likely a program you’ll need to upload the information to.

One important note, these exemption requests don’t need to be long. In the United States, employees have the right to practice their religion alone or in a community with others. You don’t need to defend a belief system with long explanation. If this is a genuinely held belief, you don’t need justify yourself or make logical sense to anyone.

Here are exemption request examples for individuals of Christian faith. Note that these are examples and should not be copied word for word. Reflect on your own sincerely-held religious beliefs to customize these messages and make them relevant to you.

By the way… This is not legal advice or personal advice. These are examples for informational purposes only. Submitting an exemption request with this information does not guarantee it will be approved by an employer. Any exemption request should reflect your legitimately held belief system.

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Date:

I personally believe that God is the creator of all things, and it’s important to me not only in my day-to-day life but also how I make decisions. Being a Christian sometimes means saying no or doing something different from what someone else wants you too because their desires may not line up with yours 100%. This includes refusing vaccinations for religious reasons as well since one of those beliefs include purity (so I don’t contaminate myself).

(Video) COVID-19 Vaccine: What you have to do to get a religious exemption and how you can be denied.

I pray that this exemption request is accepted and ask God to give us all clarity in this situation.

Sincerely,

(Insert name, contact information)

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Date:

I’ve always been taught that God is the author of my life, so it’s only logical for me to live by His rules. My religious beliefs as a Christian don’t allow me receive vaccines for Covid-19 because they conflict with scripture about purity and health matters. The law requires accommodation services offered if you want exemption based on your faith families who would rather not break any laws while still practicing their own religions practices rights guaranteed by Title VII of the US Civil Rights Act of 1964.

With gratitude and faith,

(Insert name, contact information)

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I am a Christian and my beliefs as such prevent me from receiving any vaccines, even though the law requires that those with religious exemptions be offered accommodation.I cannot receive this vaccine under because it goes against what I believe in which would make practicing good health an impossible task for someone like myself – who wants nothing but pureness of body! The authorities should make accommodations possible so people can maintain their faith without infringing upon others’ choices too much; after all we’re human too.

Here is a scripture that resonates deeply with me:

1 Cor 6:19 “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?”

I have prayed about this subject a lot. I know this is the right choice based on my deeply held religious beliefs.

Yours truly in Christ,

(Name, contact information)

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(Video) As COVID-19 vaccines become mandated, questions over religious, medical exemptions grow

My religious beliefs as a Christian do not allow me to receive vaccines. God created me with an immune system and I cannot alter His design so vaccine is out of the question for me.

My religion guides my every day life choices. I am not a perfect person and I have made mistakes, but I want to be a light to God. The Covid-19 vaccine does not align with my interpretation of his teachings.

In honor of our Lord,

(Name, Contact information)

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My sincerely-held religious beliefs are universal, based on my belief and faith in Jesus Christ. I cannot violate what’s been given to me by God – the conscience His grace gave me when he saved it from sin through his son Jesus Christ, who suffered death as payment for all our sins; we receive this gift at birth but must accept nothing outside its scope or else be eternally lost forever: thus I will never submit under any circumstances whatsoever either mentally nor physically if forced into taking a vaccine against conscience no matter what.

Titus 2:1 – 15: But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

I pray for all of us to have guidance through this time period in the name of Jesus Christ.

Thank you.

(Name, contact information)

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This is to notify you I am invoking my Constitutionally-protected right to religious expression, including being exempted from activities which are in conflict with my sincerely held beliefs. Specifically vaccinating myself because it conflicts with how I see God’s plan for me and does not agree with him one bit. I have prayed about this a lot a know it’s the right choice for me.

This workplace has forced us into an ungodly situation where we must take part in something officially considered “unbelievable” but most importantly isn’t true at all according 2 Timothy 3:1 – 6 about Jesus Christ our Lord & Savior who redeemed us by his blood out of every kindred/tribe group. Jesus is perfect and does not require any improvement.

(Name, contact information)

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Date:

(Video) Controversial Rocklin pastor offering ‘religious exemptions’ to coronavirus vaccines

My sincerely-held religious beliefs come from a belief and faith in Jesus Christ – they cannot be compromised by anyone or at any point. My deeply-held beliefs do not allow me to inject any form of medication into my body. I must keep my body pure at all costs.

(Name, contact information)

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Date:

My sincerely held religious beliefs do not allow me to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

My sincerely held belief, I cannot use any product that takes its origin in abortion. “For you created my innermost being. You knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13. The innermost being is extremely sacred. I will not knowingly participate in the process to use such a product that violates the right to life and dishonors the lives of the unborn. God’s word tells me to keep my body pure. I cannot receive a Covid vaccine under any circumstances.

I trust in the LORD. Ephesians 6:10-18 directs us to “put on the armor of God,” so that we can be equipped with truth, righteousness, peace, and faith. We are taught not to be afraid and that we have divine protection. In GOD and Jesus Christ, I Trust. I can certainly testify to this because as you are aware, throughout the whole pandemic, I have been working according to your policies and measures required of the employees. I hope to continue to do so moving forward without discrimination.

Sincerely,

(Name, Contact Information)

Exemption Request Examples of Buddhists

You don’t need to be of the Christian faith to file a religious exemption. You could be Muslim, Jewish, or any other religion. Here are two examples from the Buddhist perspective.

Date:

Hello – As a Buddhist and follower of Gautama Buddha, my sincerely held beliefs are an all-encompassing part of who I am. My religious beliefs have been protected by both the US Constitution as well as this state’s constitution which guarantees them to be free from any discrimination or assault because they come with me on life’s journey due diligence: protecting what matters most in this world just like it should always get priority over everything else!

Federal law protects American citizens’ right to practice their faith without fear that we will face punishment if others do not agree; nor may anyone interfere with our ability peacefully assemble around shared values such has prayer circles. I pray that youwill grant me an exemption.

Sincerely,

(Name, contact information)

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(Video) What qualifies for a COVID-19 vaccine exemption?

Date:

Under TITLE VII OF THE U.S. CIVIL RIGHTS ACT PROHIBITS RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION, the law requires accommodations to be offered for religious exemptions and as such is a concern of. As a Buddhist, The Tripitaka doctrine says our bodies should not fall victim/sacrifice. Accommodating someone else’s belief system which is not in line with my beliefs.

I cannot take this for any reason. I have prayed and reflected on this matter for many weeks.

Thank you.

(Name, contact information)

Understanding the Religious Exemption Process

Going through the process of submitting a religious exemption as an employee or accepting requests as an employe can seem complex. Here’s the process that you can expect. Make sure to keep documentation of all these steps for your own records.

Step 1: Find out where to submit the religious exemption. These can be submitted by email or PDF document using the examples provided above. Usually this request will be submitted to someone in HR, but ask your manager who to contact.

  • In some instances, an employer will request that you complete a religious exemption form. This is typical among large employers. We suggest following whatever protocol is outlined by your employer.

Step 2: Wait for approval or denial of the religious exemption.A reasonable time to wait for a decision is 5 business days. This is the time period when a company will determine if a request is made based on sincerely held religious beliefs.

  • In some cases an employer may conduct a limited inquiry to better understand your religious beliefs. It is the employers right to conduct a limited inquiry and ask followup questions about an employees beliefs.

Step 3: Determine Reasonable Accommodation.If the religious exemption is approved then you’ll need to work out a reasonable accommodation. Here’s the definition of reasonable accommodation according to the U.S. Department of Labor:

A reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a job, the work environment, or the way things are usually done during the hiring process. These modifications enable an individual with a disability to have an equal opportunity not only to get a job, but successfully perform their job tasks to the same extent as people without disabilities.

The ADA requires reasonable accommodations as they relate to three aspects of employment: 1) ensuring equal opportunity in the application process; 2) enabling a qualified individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of a job; and 3) making it possible for an employee with a disability to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment.

If you are currently performing your work remotely at home, you may propose continuing with this agreement as you are doing. If you need to work on-site, an agreement to social distance could be an option.

This is a conversation between the employee and employer to find a situation that works for both parties. Once an agreement is made, you can continue working under these guidelines.

Step 4: If the request is denied, you will need to write and submit an appeal letter. In this letter you will restate the religious beliefs that prevent you from receiving a vaccine. This gives the employer another opportunity to accept your request. By submitting an appeal letter, you make it possible to take legal action against an employer in the future.

Step 5: If it comes to this seek legal guidance. Employers are not permitted to fire anyone for religious reasons per Title VII of the US Civil Rights Act of 1964. Consult an employment lawyer for assistance and provide them with the correspondence you’ve documented.

Ideally, the employee and employer can come to an agreement that works for both parties without getting legal the courts involved. It’s in the best interest of employees and employers to reach follow the law and reach some type of mutually beneficial arrangement.

(Video) VERIFY: What are the steps for getting a religious exemption to the vaccine

It also protects people who have sincerely held religious, ethical or moral beliefs but do not belong to a traditional, organized religion.. Like the ADA, Title VII requires an employer to accommodate an employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs, practices and observances unless an accommodation would cause undue hardship.. One possible accommodation would be exemption from the vaccination requirement, although other accommodations are possible, as discussed below.. On one hand, religious beliefs protected by Title VII include beliefs in the existence of a divine power as well as “moral or ethical beliefs as to what is right and wrong which are sincerely held with the strength of traditional religious views.” See 29 CFR § 1605.1 .. Fetal stem cells can divide to form more cells called daughter cells.. The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines used cells from a fetal cell line in the development and testing of the vaccines.. For more on fetal cells and the COVID-19 vaccines, see here , here , here and here .. Fetal Cells Have Frequently Been Used in the Development of Other Vaccines. To fall within Title VII’s protection, an employee’s religious objection to the use of fetal cells in the COVID-19 vaccines must be consistent with their practices with respect to other vaccines whose development has involved the use of fetal stem cells.. What a Religious Exemption Request Form Might Look Like. An employer may require employees simply to explain how COVID-19 vaccination is inconsistent with their religious beliefs, as the religious exemption form used by Duke Health does (hospitals have been among the earliest employers to require vaccination as a condition of employment and to have developed exemption forms).. If the objection is related to the use of fetal cells, the employer may ask about the employee’s use of drugs in whose development fetal cells played a role.. Accommodations for Those with Sincerely Held Religious Objections to Vaccination. Employers requiring vaccination against COVID-19 must accommodate those who are unable to take any of the authorized vaccines because vaccination conflicts with a sincerely held religious belief.. First, employers must accommodate those employees whose sincerely held religious beliefs do not allow them to be vaccinated against COVID-19, unless the employer would suffer an undue hardship.

"The employer generally has to go with the idea that the employee's request is based on their sincerely held religious belief.. No known medical conditions absolutely prevent an individual from getting vaccinated, but a worker could be exempt from a COVID vaccine demand if they have a known allergy to vaccine components, for example.. What's clear is that when an employee submits a request for an exemption, the employer must engage in a two-sided dialogue to determine if the worker's request can be met.. The EEOC's view of sincerely held religious belief is employers aren't supposed to challenge the sincerity of the belief," said Jason Reisman, co-chair of Blank Rome's labor and employment practice group.. Biden's requirement for companies is a kind of soft mandate, meaning they must require employees to be vaccinated or submit to regular COVID-19 testing.. "It can't just be that it's against my religion," Wilkes said.

Here’s a look at religious exemptions for vaccination — who is eligible, how a person can get such an exemption and if it could potentially be used to avoid COVID-19 vaccine mandates in Canada.. COVID-19 vaccine mandates coming for travellers and federal workers – Oct 6, 2021While the federal government and several provincial human rights commissions have promised that exemptions would be given out, public health experts, ethicists and even Prime Minister Trudeau have said they would be few and far between.. Accommodations, as stipulated under the Canadian Human Rights Act, would be made for people who can’t get the vaccine, though the prime minister himself promised that having a personal belief that vaccines are bad would not work in order to get an exemption.. As for federal employees, an earlier statement from Canadian Treasury Board said that any federal employees unable “to be fully vaccinated based on a certified medical contraindication, religion, or another prohibited ground of discrimination as defined under the Canadian Human Rights Act may request accommodation.”. Planes, trains and federal workers: PM announces new COVID-19 vaccine mandates – Oct 6, 2021“With respect to accommodation for religion, managers should request an affidavit sworn by the employee before a commissioner for taking affidavits, containing detailed information about the sincerely held religious belief that prohibits full vaccination,” read the statement.. And while some federal workers not yet vaccinated rush to get their mandated jab, exemptions could be made in very special cases – mostly under the argument of medical or religious reasons.. COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for federal workers by end of October: Freeland – Oct 6, 2021And while the number of religions that could forbid their followers from getting their vaccine in Canada may seem small, several experts point to it as a potential excuse for those not wanting to get the vaccine.. Trudeau says federal vaccine passport to be unveiled ‘in the coming months, or a year’ – Sep 3, 2021Vanderbilt University’s review of religion and religious doctrine regarding vaccination also stated that followers of Buddhism, Hinduism and Judaism widely accept vaccination for the most part.. The first was whether it was ethical for the government to impose vaccine mandates given that people have a legitimate objection to them, and the second was whether it was ethical for people to even claim a religious exemption to the jab in the first place.

Brittany Watson, Katherine Hart, Dawn Carlisle and Amanda Mackanos protest vaccine mandates outside Winchester Medical Center in August in Winchester, Va.. Brittany Watson, Katherine Hart, Dawn Carlisle and Amanda Mackanos protest vaccine mandates outside Winchester Medical Center in August in Winchester, Va.. The Washington Post via Getty Images. Brittany Watson worked as a nurse at the hospital in Winchester, Va. — until her employer, Valley Health, announced that all staff must get vaccinated.. Whether an employer grants a religious exemption to a vaccination requirement is generally based on a judgment of the employee's sincerely held religious belief — and whether the accommodation poses an undue hardship on the employer, or would present a direct threat to health and safety of others.. Brittany Watson and Katherine Hart protested their employer's COVID-19 vaccine mandate.. Brittany Watson and Katherine Hart protested their employer's COVID-19 vaccine mandate.. The health care system says more than 95% of its employees are now vaccinated, with 5% exempt for religious or medical reasons.. There's no way to judge that as religious or not, or as sincere or not," says Kira Ganga Kieffer, a doctoral candidate in religious studies at Boston University, where she's writing a book on vaccine skepticism in America.. Judging 'sincerely held' religious belief is tricky for employers mandating vaccines

The content of exemption letters varies, but the goal is the same: helping employees explain that a vaccine rule conflicts with their religious beliefs.. The employee wrote that the use of “aborted babies to develop, test and produce” the COVID-19 vaccine was immoral but that they did not “feel wise enough to answer the questions” on a vaccine exemption request form.. Written in the first person, the statement asked for a vaccine waiver so “I am not forced to sin and stain my conscience.” The statement noted the employee’s concern with fetal cell lines, then added an idea the employee hadn’t mentioned: an objection to “any other product or medication that is connected to abortion in the same way.”. Trying to determine whether someone’s request for a religious exemption is based on a legitimate, deeply held belief is “the most challenging part” of any workplace vaccination requirement, said Yvette Lee of the Society for Human Resource Management, a trade group.. If something about a religious exemption request seems off — for example, if an employee already tried to get out of vaccination for nonreligious reasons — the employer can perform a “limited factual inquiry,” according to the U.S.. In a request for a religious exemption, the deputy wrote of a deeply held belief in Christianity and that their family had prayed on the issue of vaccination.

Where few religious exemptions are granted.. Deeper in the story was this interesting tidbit about religious exemptions in the Army and Navy:. The Navy hasn't granted any religious exemptions for any vaccine — for the coronavirus or otherwise — in the past seven years.. And there are clearly churches offering exemptions to those who don't want to get the vaccine.. A New Mexico state senator will "help you articulate a religious exemption" by pointing to the decades-old use of aborted fetal cells in the development of some vaccines.. Who wants a religious exemption?. While the Pope has supported the use of vaccines, CNN's Miguel Marquez talked to two health care workers seeking religious exemptions to the vaccine in September who were prepared to lose their jobs rather than comply with a requirement from New York state and get the shot.. Here's how one CNN report described the use of fetal cell lines from abortions in the 1970s and 1980s in the Covid-19 vaccines:. But there's a difference between endorsing a vaccine and agreeing it should be required, and Catholic authorities have always noted the importance of individual conscience.. It's a tiny fraction of the Air Force who rejected the Covid-19 vaccine mandate -- more than 96% of those working for the service have complied with the requirement, according to data supplied to the Post.. Service members already get a battery of vaccines, including those that were developed using cells similar to those used in the development of the Covid-19 vaccines.. The Supreme Court hasn't weighed in on a vaccine requirement in more than 100 years, and it declined to weigh in on requirements at Indiana University and in New York City schools before its move Friday night.. This issue isn't going anywhere, and the court will surely be asked to weigh in again.. States are fighting the federal government over vaccine requirements.. Health care workers in Maine asked the US Supreme Court to force the state to honor their request for religious exemptions to the vaccine.

Here’s what you need to know about those ongoing cases and the broader debate surrounding religious exemptions to vaccine mandates:. Requests for religious exemptions to COVID-19 vaccine mandates are controversial for the same reason that requests for religious exemptions to any vaccine mandate are controversial: Almost no faith group formally opposes vaccination.. “If the employer is already providing such accommodations for those who cannot be vaccinated because of a health conditions that genuinely prevents vaccination ... it may be difficult to justify not providing them for those with a genuine religious objection to vaccination,” Cook wrote for the Deseret News.. It’s likely that some Americans take advantage of the relative ease of accessing religious exemptions and claim them even when their vaccine concerns aren’t primarily religious, according to legal experts.. Currently, there are several cases involving religious objectors to vaccine mandates working their way through the legal system.. In cases involving religious objections to vaccine mandates, officials who support the challenged mandate are typically required to articulate why the availability of a religious exemption would put public health at risk.

Unless you’re a member of a Dutch Reformed church or a Christian Science church, making a claim for a religious exemption to the COVID-19 vaccine as a Christian is going to be hard to prove.. According to research by Vanderbilt University , the Dutch Reformed, the Christian Scientists and a few lesser-known faith-healing groups are the only churches operating in the United States that have expressed any doctrinal objections to vaccinations in general.. And that is a key to understanding legitimate claims for a religious exemption to COVID-19 vaccine mandates: Your religious group must oppose vaccines in general, not just the COVID vaccine.. U.S. labor law and some state vaccination laws provide for limited religious exemptions to vaccination mandates.. Dutch Reformed congregations have “a tradition of declining immunizations,” Vanderbilt reports.. Meanwhile in Tennessee and Oklahoma … Despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of Christian denominations in the United States today do not oppose vaccination on doctrinal grounds, some individual pastors and congregations are making news with their loud opposition to the COVID vaccines.. Kevin McCall, leader of Anointed by God Ministry, told the New York Daily News that about 60% of his congregation has requested exemptions from the vaccines and that many others are coming to the church to get the exemptions as well.. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has published guidance that says federal anti-discrimination laws don’t prohibit employers from requiring all employees who physically enter the workplace to be vaccinated for COVID-19.. According to federal law, employers may offer reasonable accommodations to non-compliant employees — if such accommodations are possible in that workplace.. Intimidation as a defense While legal scholars see religious exemptions to vaccine mandates as unlikely to prevail in most court challenges, some anti-vaxxers are banking on the likelihood that most businesses don’t want to go to court over this issue.. After requiring all employees to be vaccinated — a common requirement in hospital settings, which for years have required other standard vaccinations — the Methodist system was challenged by four employees who said they were denied religious exemptions to the vaccine mandate.. After the Florida-based Liberty Counsel intervened on behalf of those employees and threatened litigation, the health care system granted the religious exemptions.. Liberty Counsel is a conservative advocacy agency that promotes conspiracy theories and other debunked information about COVID and the alleged persecution of Christians in America.. There, a group of employees sued the health system in an attempt to avoid a vaccine mandate.. Lawsuits challenging the federal mandate already are piling up, but they will be heard on the legal merits of federal labor law, not on the threats of conservative religious freedom groups.

As businesses across the country start imposing strict COVID-19 vaccine and testing requirements, some employees are claiming religious exemptions to avoid getting vaccinated—putting human resources departments on the frontlines of a fraught political issue that has already proven fertile ground for lawsuits.. “There are people who are going to have a sincerely held religious belief, but there’s a lot of folks out there who just object to the vaccine, and this will be their avenue to not get it,” says Ed Enoch, an attorney in Augusta, Ga., who has been fielding calls from clients at small and mid-size local businesses about everything from handling religious exemptions to vaccine mandates.. Every request for a religious exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine has to be considered individually.. More importantly, what employers assess is not so much whether perceived leaders of an organized religion endorse vaccines but whether an individual’s religious belief is authentic and informs other aspects of their life beyond getting out of a COVID-19 vaccination.. And United Airlines, which was the first U.S. airline to adopt a vaccine mandate, announced in late September that following the requirement, 99.5% of employees were vaccinated.. A circuit court ruled the same day that 15 New York City public school teachers and administrators must have their COVID-19 religious exemption requests reconsidered because of a potential violation to their First Amendment rights.. Enoch, for his part, has been encouraging many of his clients—including businesses that either have no HR department or rely on one or two people—to avoid imposing a vaccine mandate.. Nico Rocco, who was the admin of a Facebook group called “Writing Religious Exemptions for Vaccine Mandates Private Public Employers,” which has 5,300 members and is dedicated to navigating religious exemptions in the workplace, runs a website called Essential Liberties that offers workshops on “ How to Answer the Hardest Questions on Religious Exemption Forms ” for $25.. The questions include describing the conflict between one’s religious belief and a COVID-19 vaccine requirement, as well as probing whether an employee also avoids using medication such as Tylenol and Pepto-Bismol, which were researched and developed in a similar manner to the COVID-19 vaccines (which relied partly on fetal cell lines).. Sharing advice on how to tailor responses to employer questions about religious exemptions could be a way to game the religious exemptions system, some experts say.. “There will be employers who just don’t want to get in the business of evaluating religious exemptions, and so they will just do a box check,” Franke says.. Employees have long been able to request religious exemptions to policies such as dress codes or being required to work on certain days, but these can be approved more easily because they don’t affect other employees.. A Nov. 4 survey from SHRM found that 64% of employers are concerned about how to handle requests for religious or medical exemptions to a potential vaccine mandate.

The Department of Defense has further established policy to accommodate the “individual expressions of sincerely held beliefs (conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs), which do not have an adverse impact on military readiness, unit cohesion, good order and discipline, or health and safety.” However, there is a growing perception that DoD is too dismissive of service members’ sincerely held religious beliefs—especially since it has become a central issue surrounding vaccination against COVID-19.. “Unless the soldier’s soul sustains him, he cannot be relied on and will fail himself and his commander and his country in the end.” For less than 1 percent of our active duty soldiers, receiving a COVID-19 vaccination is a burden to their consciences that forces them to choose between military service and their sincerely held religious beliefs.. The COVID-19 vaccine mandate presents an opportunity to affirm the Army’s commitment to soldiers’ religious liberty and spiritual readiness.. Commanders must balance the soldier’s request against military necessity, including such factors as risk to mission and risk to the force.. On today’s COVID-19 battlefield, neither the volume of religious exemption requests nor the actual threat from a service member contracting COVID-19 poses such a risk to readiness as to require a soldier to violate his or her sincerely held religious beliefs.. The Army reports only 3,760 (0.77 percent) of its 486,500 active duty soldiers have requested a religious exemption to the vaccine.. The Department of the Army can grant religious exemptions to the vaccine mandate without compromising military readiness.. Sincere religious exemption requests can and should be accommodated.

Catholic hospitals and universities, likewise, are witnessing the church's commitments to life, healing and the common good by requiring that employees and students who wish to return to offices and campuses and participate in the goods of common life be vaccinated.. It also ignores most of the necessary components of Catholic moral discernment — our liturgical identity, charity and the virtues, the consensus position of magisterial authority, Catholic social teaching and even principles of Catholic bioethics.. As Tobias Winright and Jason Eberl, both professors of health care ethics, have helpfully argued, the suggestion that there are religious or moral grounds for COVID-19 vaccine exemptions for Catholics is false .. More tellingly, only one statement I have seen supporting COVID-19 vaccine exemptions for Catholics mentions the Holy Father.. In committing these culpable errors, Catholic figures championing religious exemption are actively assisting others in mal -forming their consciences.. For these and my colleagues who work in Catholic health care, I have developed an alternative template to use with Catholics who request religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccine requirements.. In other words, as Pope Francis makes clear (echoing Thomas Aquinas), the center of Catholic moral discernment and the shape of the whole Christian life is the virtue of charity — the virtue of self-gift or self-emptying love for the good of others.. It is within this framework — and only within this framework — that an authentic Catholic moral discernment then moves to tools of the Catholic tradition — the guidance of magisterial authorities and principles like that of moral cooperation or ordinary treatment.. Troublingly, the materials championing vaccine exemptions distort not only Catholic teaching on conscience but they invent — or, more charitably, present in a misleading fashion —basic principles of Catholic bioethics.. This simple act of who we are as missionary disciples is grounded in our sacramental identity and affirmed by authoritative magisterial guidance — which together provide the proper and necessary framework for interpreting and applying the principles of Catholic medical ethics and conscience.

(For a hearing on vaccine mandates in Massachusetts, a parent wrote to lawmakers that she made use of a religious exemption in 2020 for the flu vaccine, “not because it goes against my religion, but because I do not believe that it is necessary to put additional chemicals into my child’s body.”) But the political battles over coronavirus vaccination have driven more people to seek ways around the laws.. Does the law require a religious exemption to vaccine mandates?. In a landmark 1990 case, Employment Division, Department of Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith , the court ruled that states do not have to provide a religious exemption from a generally applicable law that is neutral on its face with respect to religion.. Courts have consistently found that vaccine mandates do not require a religious exemption, and several states — California, Connecticut, Maine, New York, West Virginia and Mississippi — do not offer one.. It’s not clear yet how the recent subtle shifts in doctrine will affect court cases related to religious exemptions for vaccine mandates.. For private employers, the law is clearer: Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers have to accommodate workers with religious objections to vaccine mandates — unless providing an exemption places an “undue burden” on the business in question.. Two University of Massachusetts students challenged the constitutionality of that system’s coronavirus vaccine mandate, with one of them also claiming that her First Amendment rights were infringed because her request for a religious exemption was denied.. (A believer should “obey the law, and then appeal to the gospel to save him from bad physical results.”) But judges — and the people granting exemptions in the first place — are not permitted to decide what various denominations “really” teach: In court, the test is the sincerity of a personal belief that can be characterized as “religious.” There is no simple formula for gauging sincerity, but the process can involve analyzing personal statements for consistency and exploring whether people have acted over time in accordance with their stated belief.. A district court in New York this past week required the state to give an exemption to health-care workers on such grounds, while their challenge to the mandate makes its way through the courts — but two other New York courts, examining exactly the same facts, did not.

If an employer accepts the exemption, an employee may be given 'reasonable accommodations' if possible.. The employer may deny the request if it is deemed insincere, in which case the employee can challenge the decision in court.. If one believes that the vaccine would violate their religious beliefs, they are able to request an exemption from their employer.. Our experts said that the primary question will boil down to whether a request for a religious exemption is 'sincere.'. "Certainly if the person is genuinely sincere," said Gostin.. "That will allow an exemption if you just ask for one.. "then it's a conversation about how to accommodate that religious belief.". If the employer decides that the belief is insincere, they can choose to reject the religious exemption request.. Mihalich said that an employee will have an especially good argument in court if the employer does not engage in a process, to try and gauge sincerity.. For months, Jones and some of his colleagues have argued that a reasonable accommodation for those with religious objections would be to allow regular testing as an alternative to vaccination.. Across the country, some employees are seeking a religious exemption to the COVID-19 vaccine.

If an employer demonstrates that it is unable to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs relating to a vaccine mandate without posing an undue hardship on its operations, then Title VII does not require the employer to provide the accommodation.. When considering workplace safety, an employer may consider such factors including the nature of the employee’s duties, the number of employees who are vaccinated, how many employees and non-employees enter the workplace and the number of employees who will need a particular accommodation.. Some state and local mandates, including New York State’s emergency regulation requiring most healthcare workers to be vaccinated as a condition of working on-site and interfacing with patients and co-workers, have been challenged through lawsuits due to the absence of religious exemptions to the mandatory vaccine.. In Does 1-6 v. Mills, the First Circuit, in declining to bar Maine from enforcing its vaccination mandate for healthcare workers based on the failure to provide for a religious exemption, reasoned:. “We conclude that exempting from vaccination only those whose health would be endangered by vaccination does not undermine Maine’s asserted interests here: (1) ensuring that healthcare workers remain healthy and able to provide the needed care to an overburdened healthcare system; (2) protecting the health of those in the state most vulnerable to the virus—including those who are vulnerable to it because they cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons; and (3) protecting the health and safety of all Mainers, patients and healthcare workers alike.. While the New York and Maine cases are of limited precedential value, since they apply to a narrow set of rules applicable to healthcare workers, the implications are that courts are not necessarily requiring religious accommodations to COVID-19 vaccination mandates, where the statutes or regulations under court review do not require them.. Both appellate courts have instructed the lower district courts to continue their consideration of the legal challenges to the state mandates raised by proponents of religious exemptions.. Most employers should follow the updated EEOC guidance when evaluating, on a case-by-case basis, each request.. Given that the EEOC continues to view an employee’s sincerely-held religious beliefs broadly, it may be safer for an employer to focus on whether an employee’s request for a religious exemption from the vaccination mandate would pose an undue hardship on the employer’s operations, based on the EEOC Guidance (which does allow for consideration of safety, employee vaccination rates, the number of requests, etc., as part of the “undue hardship” analysis).

Steve checks with HR and discovers that the company is allowing a religious exemption, provided that a religious leader signs a letter affirming the exemption.. As we’ve covered here at Crisis before ( here , here , here , here , and here ), there is debate among Catholics regarding the morality of taking these vaccines, but the Church has made clear that no one should be obligated to get the shot, and that Catholics should push for the development of vaccines that are not morally compromised.. Recently, the Archdiocese of New York released a memo to its priests barring them from writing these religious exemption letters.. The letter begins with a whopper, stating, “We occasionally hear from Catholics who have a sincere moral objection to the COVID-19 vaccines due to their connection to abortion.. If, for example, a virus existed that only gave people with red hair the sniffles, and the only vaccine available was tainted by abortion, then Catholics should refuse that vaccine because the evil that results from the virus is so minimal.. So can priests sign letters granting a religious exemption to Catholics?. While the Church does not teach that there are no circumstances in which a Catholic can receive an abortion-tainted vaccine, a priest can state that a Catholic in good conscience can refuse the jab on religious grounds.. And happily the Colorado Catholic Conference recently put out a statement that defended the right of Catholics to seek a religious exemption in this regard, although to my knowledge they are the only bishops to do so as of this writing.. After all, Catholics “who are strongly pro-life and very loyal to the teaching of the faith” are not contradicting any moral teaching of the Church; if anything, they are the most faithful to the Church’s teachings.. For the Church to allow them a religious exemption takes seriously what the Church actually teaches about this issue.. If Church leaders refuse to grant religious exemptions, how can they then go to vaccine makers and argue that they want non-abortion-related vaccines?. Church leaders claim serious qualms regarding the vaccines’ connection to abortion, and say they want to push companies not to use aborted baby cell lines.. At the very least, then, they should follow the guidance of the Church in allowing Catholics to pursue religious exemptions to the shot.

This month, California became the first state to require Covid-19 vaccines for all schoolchildren but the provision came with a loophole: students will be granted religious exemptions.. California, which currently has the lowest coronavirus case rate in the US, has been issuing a series of sweeping mandates, requiring that healthcare workers, state employees, care workers and school staff get the vaccine.. But in each case, Californians are able to ask for personal belief exemptions – and they are doing so in droves.. Last week, teachers at a school district in Los Angeles who were denied religious exemptions demonstrated outside the headquarters.. In San Francisco, some 800 city workers – including police officers and firefighters – have asked for exemptions, though the city has yet to approve a single request.. In Rocklin, California – just north-east of the state capital, Sacramento – a megachurch pastor has been offering religious exemption letters to all who want them.. The Christian legal advocacy group Liberty Counsel offers letter templates to claim a religious exemption, as well.. Ultimately, she said, it may not matter that not only public health officials but also prominent religious leaders have been encouraging people to get vaccinated.. Federal and state laws offer protections for workers who want to decline a vaccine due to their religious or philosophical beliefs, which can be broadly defined.. But the tactic is “rife with legal pitfalls”, Reiss said.. Ultimately, a sincerely held belief may not have to be rational or consistent in order to be protected by the law.. Protesters rally outside a courthouse in New York last week where teachers are suing against vaccine mandates, stating that they are immoral and illegal.. As such requests flood state agencies and school administrations, public health experts and parents have been asking lawmakers to tighten exemption rules, as they did in 2015 when they passed a law eliminating the personal belief exemption for childhood immunizations.

Even though Title VII of the Civil Rights Act makes it unlawful for businesses to discriminate against any individual because of his or her religion, this is only if they can accommodate that observance or practice without “ undue hardship on the conduct of the employer’s business .” The Supreme Court has continued to define such hardship as anything “more than de minimis cost.” For anyone trying to figure out how to handle the logistics of testing those who exercise religious exemption while maintaining a safe environment at the office, it becomes readily apparent that in many cases this takes more than minimal effort and expense.. However, claiming a religious exemption means something much greater than preferring not to be vaccinated.. Even if employees will submit to vaccine mandate pressure against their religious identity, a company’s increase in vaccination compliance may come at the expense of other goals and values, such as employee retention, productivity, and satisfaction.. Since August, when Delta implemented a policy that required employees either to get vaccinated or to submit to weekly testing and pay an extra $200 per month for the company’s healthcare plan, its vaccination rate has increased by nearly 10 percentage points and is still climbing .. Most importantly, this policy gives people who are claiming religious exemption time to consider, not whether they should uphold their beliefs or not, but rather whether the information on which they are basing their beliefs—such as how the vaccines are made and how they work—is accurate or not.. Delta Airline’s approach is a good a model for companies that want to maximize their overall goals of creating a safe environment, retaining employees and maintaining productivity instead of limiting their focus only to increasing vaccination compliance.

In Washington state, thousands of state workers are seeking similar exemptions.. In the states, mask and vaccine requirements vary, but most offer exemptions for certain medical conditions or religious or philosophical objections.. The allowance was enshrined in the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, which says employers must make reasonable accommodations for employees who object to work requirements because of “sincerely held” religious beliefs.. He is a Catholic who believes fetal stem cells were experimented with in making the vaccine.. The city has mandated that municipal employees get vaccinated by Oct. 5 unless they are granted a medical or religious exemption.. As of Tuesday, more than 3,800 workers had requested religious exemptions.

Requested accommodation (job change, schedule change, dress/appearance code exception, vaccination exemption, etc.. I am requesting an exemption from the currently available Covid-19 EUA vaccines which are based on mRNA and/or utilized cell lines from aborted fetal tissue during development, testing, or production, (e.g. HEK293 and PER.C6). If an approved Covid-19 vaccine were to become available in the future using more traditional killed or attenuated viruses and did not have a synthetic mRNA, DNA, or utilize aborted fetal tissues for development, testing, or production, I may be able to consider such vaccination, providing it did not conflict with my deeply and sincerely held beliefs.. The economy shown in the creation of Life in the Universe – that the same genetic code existed in all living creatures – showed me that G-d was not only a Supreme Creator but an Intelligent Designer.. Graduate School left me little time to ponder my spiritual needs, but I did attend a Presbyterian church briefly and had begun to read my Bible sporadically.. Artie was exceptionally happy and upbeat which puzzled me because the first time I met him he had 1) just been released from prison, 2) was homeless, 3) had no transportation (a huge liability in Southern California) and 4) needed a ride to the Welfare office.. In the midst of all my racing thoughts, I listened as Artie began to tell me how he had been changed in prison, that he had given his life to Jesus Christ, and was a new creation.. I began to attend church there and grew in the Word rapidly, was baptized there, attended Bible studies, volunteered in the church whenever possible, and even became a Children’s Church teacher.. Many aspects of Covid-19 and subsequent vaccine development are unprecedented for a vaccine deployed for use in the general population.. The mRNA based vaccines use synthetic mRNA that in turn use synthetic nucleotides – methyl-pseudouridine is used in place of the natural nucleotide uridine (Seneff and Nigh, op.. As the government and corporations clamor for the vaccination of every living person, even those with naturally acquired immunity, and the policies are being implemented – just as at REDACTED – that none shall [work], buy or sell.. As stated in the first section, the development of an approved vaccine that does not rely on synthetic mRNA or DNA components, nor rely on the use of aborted fetal tissue cell lines for its development, testing or manufacture may allow me to become vaccinated in the future.. I understand that REDACTED may need to obtain additional supporting documentation regarding my religious practice and beliefs to further evaluate my request for a religious accommodation.

Look anywhere, and you’ll find professing Christians using God as justification for their unholy ways.. Now we come to religious exemptions for vaccines.. If you’re using God as a free pass to escape a vaccine mandate, then you’re violating the Third Commandment.. But ask yourself, “Is [insert religious justification] really why I don’t want the vaccine, or is [insert religious justification] a convenient pass for me to avoid something I just don’t want to do?” If the answer is yes, then you’re in danger of violating the Third Commandment.. [2] Back to the New York Times article―note that this woman fronts her remarks with a discussion of “freedom.” Also, notice that she apparently didn’t consult her faith community about the veracity of her religious objection.. One organization, called Health Freedom Idaho, published a sample exemption letter on its website that used this objection and cited these passages.. First, Paul’s remarks about the body as a temple were directed to the Corinthian church as a body , as a whole ―the “you are God’s temple” is plural!. Second, the sample letter mistakenly interprets the temple motif to refer to physical pollution to one’s body, when Paul is in fact interjecting a rhetorical question (an accusation, really) about sins that may destroy their community (“the temple”), among which Christ resides.. Sin is anything that violates the will of God, as set forth in the Bible, and as impressed upon the heart of the believer by the Holy Spirit.. In order to keep myself from sin, and receive God’s direction in life, I pray and ask God for wisdom and direction daily.. If I were to go against the moving of the Holy Spirit, I would be sinning and jeopardizing my relationship with God and violating my conscience.. It isn’t enough to hold to some form of, “I don’t like it, so it violates my conscience, so I don’t have to do it.” That’s never been how responsible Christians have interacted with society.. … the New Testament requires of Christians that we, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Mark 12:17).. I believe in and follow God and the principles laid out in His Word and I have a deeply held belief that vaccines violate them.. The Liberty Counsel also rallied to the cause by declaring Christians have a religious exemption because they have “… a reliance upon God’s protection consistent with Psalm 91.” [8]

These will be called (1) the moral objection, (2) the conscience objection, and (3) the risk objection.. c. Third, even if the moral objection were sound (which it is not for the reasons already offered), it would at most give rise only to an objection to taking the Johnson & Johnson vaccine when a person could instead take the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine.. To object on moral grounds to all COVID-19 vaccines would require one also to object on moral grounds to a vast swathe of widely used medical treatments.. Because there is not a valid moral objection, the conscience objection has to be that an individual Christian’s conscience — even when ill-formed and wrong in its moral judgment — cannot be overridden by human authorities.. The objection is based on two premises: there is a Christian duty to protect life and health, and a Christian may think that the COVID-19 vaccines pose a threat to life and health (or at least, for some lower-risk persons, that the vaccines do not protect life and health).. For these reasons, an objection based on perceived risk does not offer a valid basis for a religious exemption to a COVID-19 vaccine requirement.

Videos

1. Why Is Everyone Asking for Religious Vaccine Exemptions? | The Daily Show
(The Daily Show with Trevor Noah)
2. Preparing A Company COVID Vaccine Policy And Exemption Requests - Ep. 10 Lawyers Off The Clock
(Miller Johnson)
3. Law professor examines religious exemptions from COVID vaccine mandates
(KGW News)
4. How Employers Should Handle COVID Vaccine Religious Exemption Requests Ep 12-Lawyers Off The Clock
(Miller Johnson)
5. What is considered a religious exemption to the COVID-19 vaccine?
(FOX 2 Detroit)
6. Letter outlines religious exemption process
(ABC 10 News)

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