Instructions to people interested in a religious exemption. READ CAREFULLY!
All persons have a right to a religious exemption under USA law if they hold a “sincere religious belief.” It is incorrect that any other “proof” is necessary. No particular faith, theology, action, or inaction is required. However, it must be a belief that is sincerely held by the individual. While in normal times, religious beliefs are not challenged, in the current climate, it is possible that should a dispute arise, perhaps between an employer and an employee, both sides might suggest evidence that supports or contradicts that.
Here we have gathered essays on the subject of religious concerns regarding vaccines. We encourage all people to thoughtfully read through all these essays and determine if any/several sincerely apply to themselves as an individual. This is an individual exercise. We provide this because we know it is difficult to articulate and/or defend these beliefs. However, this exercise is yours alone.
You can and/or should use this material to support your own statement of your own sincerely held religious beliefs. We have provided this material in word.doc format for your convenience, however, it would contradict your assertion that your belief is sincerely held if you were, for example, to broadly copy and paste another person's or entity's beliefs. Certainly, if a sentence or paragraph or reference speaks to your heart and soul, that is acceptable to copy, which is why it is provided in word doc format. The authors have all given their permission and/or the statements are in the public domain.
If you are having to assert your sincere religious beliefs, you must do this work on your own, using your own thoughts and own words. Those words are based upon your own contemplation and your own research, and AFLDS is happy to assist you.
In God We Trust.
The second paragraph should explain why you feel the vaccine is against your faith.
our personal statement should be between two paragraphs and two pages long.
See also Considerations When Writing a Personal Statement.
For the first paragraph, here is a sentence starter:
I first came to my faith as a child. My parents...
For the second paragraph, here is a sentence starter:
It is against my religious faith to take the COVID-19 vaccines because… (Reason 1). (Give two examples and relate them back to the principles your faith teaches you.)
See an example of a Personal Statement based on the New Testament.
See an example of a Personal Statement based on Judaism.
This is new for a lot of people and many people are in a similar situation, but you might be surprised to find that if you begin rolling your reasons for being opposed to the vaccine around in your heart and mind, a spiritual spark, a spark that relates to your history with religion, is there, at the root. For example, aligning your actions with truth is a principle found throughout all religions and faiths. As is the use of wisdom. By aligning your actions and choices with discernment and discretion, skills you learned in your faith, when faced with difficult decisions, you are tapping into wisdom. Each of us has a spark inside ourselves for a personal relationship to the Divine, and that personal relationship can be written in your personal statement even if you don't consider yourself a perfect member of a traditional religious body. Your job is to soul search to see if you find a way to connect your personal statement to your faith.
We don't yet know how cases will be decided with respect to COVID-19, but we do know that in the past, courts have provided guidance. That guidance includes allowing exemptions for sincerely held beliefs even if those beliefs are not shared by your religion or your religious leaders.
You may be surprised to find that some voices in your religion are in support of your decision. See the following examples:
Ultraorthodox (Haredi) Rabbis of Israel
Roman Catholic Objection to the Vaccine
Church of Health and Healing
Torah and Talmudic Objections
You may find that if you Google search a term like “discretion”, or “discernment,” or making “wise decisions,” along with the faith that you feel most connected to that there will be an abundance of material for you to work with. Adding scripture can enhance your letter and add to the heartfelt sincerity aspect of it.
Here's a starter to help you get going:
Everything about this vaccine goes against my sense (the sense God has given me) of what is the right thing to do.
Write a sentence for each of these (or come up with some more of your own) and connect them to your faith:
- Speed of the trials
- No long-term studies
- Shown to have harmful side effects
- No liability for pharmaceutical companies
If any of these resonate with you, connect them with your faith to have your voice heard.
One interesting, though, perhaps, not heartening case that speaks to this issue is Friedman v. Southern California Permanente Medical Group, 102 Cal. App. 4th 39 (2002) holding that an employee's veganism is not a religious belief.
Note also, however, the following, reported in Reuters:
"Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center fired customer service representative Sakile Chenzira in 2010 for refusing a flu vaccine because she was a vegan. Chenzira sued and the hospital wanted the case dismissed, arguing she was mistaking a dietary habit for a religious belief. The federal judge ruled in her favor based on the sincerity of her views. The parties settled privately.
'As an employer, you can inquire whether an employee has a sincerely held religious belief. It's just kind of a fraught investigation,' said Brian Dean Abramson, an author and specialist in vaccine law.
He said employers have to be careful not to appear to be invading the worker's privacy or harassing them and businesses have to be aware that employees are religious views may change over time."
See an example of a Personal Statement based on the https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-employers-get-religion-with-vaccine-mandates-2021-08-12/
Again, this is a complicated, case specific question that should be addressed to an attorney that handles employment law in your state.
Furthermore, it is our position that we want citizens and attorneys together in this battle against violations of civil rights. No civil rights victories have been won without active attorney involvement, along with active citizen involvement.
Please note: There is no guarantee that the employer will pay a severance. However, the attorney will work toward negotiating one with your employer, as laid out in the retainer agreement.
Please note: it is better to involve an attorney in your matter before you submit an exemption request if you are looking to have the assistance of an attorney after the exemption request is either granted or denied.