{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "What about the religious exemption? Who is eligible to claim it, and under what circumstances is the claim likely to be accepted? The short answer is: almost anyone can claim it, but not many will receive it.\n\n\n\nhttps://www.govexec.com/management/2021/09/how-will-religious-exemption-federal-employee-covid-19-vaccine-mandate-work/185572/", "post_id": "616ef86e7171c2002ec6b314", "reply_count": 13, "vote_count": 3, "bowl_id": "5c751b9f2f6b98001bc666f8", "bowl_name": "Teachers" }
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A moral objection is actually enough.

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Thanks for sharing this!

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Courts are beginning to look at whether the exemption is based on religion. In an August 2021 case— Harris and Cluett v. University of Massachusetts—a Catholic student claimed that her religious preference exempted her from the vaccine mandate. The court noted, however, that the school had confirmed that the Catholic Church declared the COVID-19 vaccine as “morally justified,” and the student had received other vaccines as a prerequisite to attending school. The court denied the exemption. It’s about balancing the right of employees to practice their faith against the possible consequences. In a decision in Prince v. Massachusetts from 1944, the Supreme Court held that, “The right to practice religion freely does not include liberty to expose the community or the child to communicable disease or the latter to ill health or death.”

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I’m always a little amused when people claim the founding fathers would never stand for social distancing, masks, or vaccine mandates. George Washington instituted the first widespread inoculation mandate not once but twice during the Revolutionary War. He also did it with the knowledge of the Continental Congress; we have letters where he mentions the policy to John Hancock. Moreover, the smallpox inoculation Washington mandated had a well-documented 2-3% fatality rate. He mandated it anyway because smallpox itself could have up to a 30% fatality rate and his troops had little immunity to it, especially when compared with the British troops who had much more exposure to it from their campaigns in Europe and their life in Great Britain. One of the primary reasons Washington didn’t take Fort Quebec from the British was smallpox among the American troops. And this, along with the fear the British would weaponize smallpox as they had considered doing in conflicts with the Native Americans, led to Washington’s two different inoculation mandates.

I personally know someone who spent time in jail due to claiming a religious exemption for another reason a long time ago. That situation, like all others in the last few generations, resolved itself at the local level when the local authorities refused to enforce regulations against people who objected due to matters of conscience. And my friend was in the local news as a martyr and hero, while the authorities who put him in jail bore the brunt of local anger. I expect the same to happen with this issue as well. There are already so many places where state or local agencies are refusing to allow what would be a brand new precedent at the federal level.

Did you read this article? Nothing in this article notes vaccines. This is taken directly from the article. ‘Reasonable accommodations based on religion under Title VII generally can be classified into three primary areas: (1) claims concerning conflicts between work requirements and holy day or Sabbath observances; (2) religious clothing requirements; and (3) grooming claims to meet a religious obligation.’

Yes, I did read the article. No, it doesn’t mention vaccines. In my comment, I specifically noted that there are fewer specific precedents when dealing with vaccines. My post was detailing some of the more general precedents governing the use of both medical exemptions and religious/deeply held belief exemptions, mainly the difference between the undue hardship standard. For religious exemptions, the business only has to show that an accommodation for the employee is more than a minimal burden (the de minimis standard) on the business. If so, the accommodation does not have to be granted. It’s very different for medical exemptions, which is why an appeal to the ADA is much more powerful than an appeal to Title VII. As for your quote from the article, it again holds with what I said in my post (which is why I linked to it). Generally, there are only three types of religious accommodations because these three accommodations do NOT cross the de minimis threshold. In other words, they don’t create an undue hardship on the business according to court precedents. Note that vaccines are NOT on the list or easily put into one of the three categories. That’s because jobs requiring employees to meet certain medical standards often do so for the safety of other employees or the safety of the general public. Granting a religious accommodation in the face of that would certainly cross the de minimis threshold. That’s why a religious objection rarely gets any traction when it comes to medical requirements. And as a result, there aren’t enough examples of it happening for this article to note a category for it. When it comes down to the general precedents that have been established, a demand for religious exemptions or accommodations just doesn’t hold a lot of weight in most circumstances. At least, not to the courts.

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