Religious Leaders As A Source For Vaccine Information
About one in five Americans say they would, or did, in the case of those who have already received a vaccine, look to a religious leader for information when deciding whether to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Americans are notably less likely to turn to religious leaders for information today than they were in March . The vaccine hesitant are more likely than vaccine refusers to turn to religious leaders for information, but both numbers are notably down from their March levels , likely due to those who were hesitant and even some refusers who were more amenable to vaccination in March converting to the accepter category in June.
About four in ten Black Protestants , Hispanic Protestants , Mormons , and other Christians report they would or did look to religious leaders for information about the vaccines at least a little. Nearly three in ten white evangelical Protestants and about two in ten other Protestants of color , Hispanic Catholics , and members of other non-Christian religions also report the same. White mainline Protestants , white Catholics , Jewish Americans , and religiously unaffiliated Americans are the least likely to report that they would or did look to religious leaders for information about the vaccines at least a little. With the exception of Jewish Americans and Mormons, every other religious group is notably less likely to turn today to religious leaders for information than they were in March.
Employer Asks Workers Seeking Religious Exemption From Vaccine Mandate To Swear Off Tylenol And Tums
A hospital system in Arkansas mandating the COVID-19 vaccine among its workforce has taken an interesting approach during its review of religious exemption requests, asking employees to verify they dont or wont use popular medications like Tylenol, Aspirin, Motrin, Ibuprofen, Pepto Bismol, Tums, and Benadryl if they want to prove the sincerity of one particular religious belief. While each employer needs to make its own decisions about the lengths it will take to respond to religious accommodation requests , this most recent example provides a creative approach that other employers may consider replicating.
Given that about half of the country is not yet fully vaccinated as of the date of this publication, it is no surprise to employers that a good number of their employees are hesitant about receiving COVID-19 vaccines. As more employers are mandating COVID-19 vaccines in anticipation of the impending new OSHA rule, they are beginning to face an influx of exemption requests from employees. Aside from accommodations based on disabilities, you may need to grant reasonable accommodations to mandatory vaccine policies due to an employees sincerely held religious belief under Title VII.
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Key Takeaways for Employers When Determining Religious Exemptions
No single one of these factors is dispositive.
The Coronavirus Pandemic: Key Things To Know
U.S. surpasses 800,000 deaths.Covid deaths in the United States surpassed 800,000 the highest known number of any country. About 75 percent of the 800,000 deaths have involved people 65 or older. One in 100 older Americans has died from the virus.
The Omicron variant.The new Covid variant has been detected in dozens of countries. While Omicron is perhaps less severe than other forms of the virus, it also seems to dull the power of the Pfizer vaccine, though the company said its boosters are effective. Dr. Anthony Fauci said Moderna and Pfizer boosters are likely to offer substantial protection.
Warnings of a new wave.The C.D.C said that Omicrons rapid spread in the U.S. may portend a significant surge in infections as soon as January. In Europe, Britain is speeding up its booster program to counter a tidal wave of Omicron, while Denmark and Norway predicted the new variant will be dominant in a matter of days.
Pfizers Covid pill.A study of Pfizers oral Covid treatment confirmed that it helps stave off severe disease, even from the Omicron variant, the company announced. Pfizer said the treatment reduced the risk of hospitalization and death by 89 percent if given within three days of the onset of symptoms.
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Battling The Mandate Why Will Jones Is Speaking Out
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.
“If there was no way to test for this,” he said. “It’s a completely different conversation. But we do have tests. Tests are very effective. The wealthiest people in the world have been using these tests to safely protect themselves for the past year.”
So far, Jones said that he has not received an answer regarding his request for an exemption. He said he’s seen some of the negative posts on social media about the 419 firefighters that have requested this exemption.
“I would – you know – hope that people would be able to see,” he said. “And extend grace towards other people. And believe that people do have spiritual beliefs that may be different than the ones that they themselves hold.”
Jones said he would continue fighting against the mandates, which he fears could cause many firefighters to be out of a job if enforced.
“I’m going to stay as long as I can to fight for my job,” he said. “If they fire me, if they revoke my ability to work here, then that is what happens. I will still continue to fight back for my job.”
What Are Employer Obligations To Workers When It Comes To Religious Exemptions
The right to request a religious exemption stems from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects workers from discrimination on the basis of religion, among other things. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says employers must provide reasonable accommodations for workers who have sincerely held religious beliefs unless doing so poses an undue hardship.
There’s a lot to unpack there.
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Lots Of People Say They’ll Quit Over Vaccine Mandates But Research Shows Few Do
But the politicization of this virus has changed that.
“The folks that are most angry now or most objecting now are kind of a new cohort, I’d say, that is much more traditionally politically motivated,” Kieffer says.
The stakes couldn’t be higher. As religious exemptions are now being sought in droves, their use raises concerns that they pose a serious public health risk.
Participants bow their heads in prayer during a COVID-19 prayer vigil on the National Mall honoring and mourning those who have died due to the coronavirus pandemic in Washington, D.C., in July.hide caption
Participants bow their heads in prayer during a COVID-19 prayer vigil on the National Mall honoring and mourning those who have died due to the coronavirus pandemic in Washington, D.C., in July.
“We believe firmly that religious freedom should not be a license to cause harm to others,” says Rachel Laser, CEO at Americans United for Separation of Church and State. She says it’s problematic to have public safety hinge on difficult-to-assess questions of individual religious sincerity.
“What that created is a situation where we are actually seeing herd immunity being put at risk, and public safety being put at risk, where religious exemptions are sort of so voluminously being claimed,” Laser says.
Vaccination As An Example Of Loving Your Neighbor
A majority of Americans agree with the statement Because getting vaccinated against COVID-19 helps protect everyone, it is a way to live out the religious principle of loving my neighbors, while 42% disagree with the statement. Agreement with this idea is similar to what was reported in March . While agreement with this idea is the same as was reported in March among vaccine accepters and refusers , notably, among the vaccine hesitant, it went down, from 40% in March to 29% in June.
With the exception of white evangelical Protestants , majorities of all major religious groups agree that getting vaccinated is a way to live out the religious principle of loving their neighbors. Two-thirds of Hispanic Catholics as well as majorities of Hispanic Protestants , white mainline Protestants , white Catholics , Black Protestants , and religiously unaffiliated Americans agree. Compared to March, Hispanic Catholics and Hispanic Protestants have become more likely to agree with this question.
Seven in ten Americans of other races , compared to 64% of Hispanic Americans, 56% of Black Americans, 52% of white Americans, and 41% of multiracial Americans agree that getting vaccinated is a way to show love for their neighbors. Hispanic Americans are notably more likely to agree with this statement today than they were in March .
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But What Are Other Religious Leaders Saying About The Covid
The head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, has urged people to get the COVID-19 vaccine and said that getting the shot is an act of love.
Thanks to Gods grace and to the work of many, we now have vaccines to protect us from COVID-19, The Pope said in the video below. He continued on to say that vaccines, bring hope to end the pandemic, but only if they are available to all and if we collaborate with one another.
Pope Francis received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine back in January, according to The Vatican.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops shared in the fall of 2020 a statement clearing up confusion on the Catholic Churchs views on the COVID vaccines.
In March of 2021, the organization questioned the moral permissibility of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Mitzvah is one of the Torahs 613 Divine commandments a good deed or religious precept, according to Rabbi Yehuda Shurpin. Rabbi Shurpin writes guarding your own health doesnt only make sense, its actually a mitzvah. That means that even if you dont want to do it, for whatever reason, you are still obligated to do so. The Torah is teaching us that our body is a gift from God, and we are therefore not the owners of it and we cant cause it any damage.
The three major branches of modern Judaism include Reform, Orthodox, and Conservative. Organizations and leaders across the three branches have released statements in support of vaccinations.
What About The Public Interest
Laycock, who described himself as “one of the strongest academic defenders of religious exemptions in the country,” nevertheless argues that Los Angeles officials would be on solid legal footing if they rejected all exemptions from the vaccine mandate except those needed for medical reasons.
“It has a compelling government interest in requiring vaccination against a deadly infectious disease. The court cases are essentially unanimous about that,” he wrote in an email. “The unvaccinated are overwhelming our hospitals and depriving other folks of needed medical care, and because no vaccine is 100% effective, they are spreading the disease to folks who are vaccinated, causing minor problems for many of them and killing a few of them.”
Other attorneys disagree, arguing that like any other employer, the city would have to meet individually with each of the hundreds of employees seeking exemptions to determine whether they could be reasonably accommodated.
In addition, the Biden administration has muddied the waters when it comes to what employers need to do to protect the public, mandating vaccinations for federal workers and contractors regardless of their size, but allowing a testing alternative for private employers with 100 or more workers, and requiring neither testing nor vaccinations for workers at other private companies.
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Are There Religious Exemptions To Vaccines
Although vaccines are required to attend most schools in the United States, with the availability of exemptions, many kids attend without being vaccinated or fully vaccinated. Exemption based on religion is one of several reasons parents can claim to avoid giving their children vaccines in certain states.
And of course, parents can always choose to not send their kids to school. Children who are home-schooled usually do not have to meet the same vaccine requirements as children who attend public or private schools.
Unvaccinated United Airlines Employees To Be Put On Temporary Leave
In religious exemption cases, undue hardshipis defined as “more than a de minimis,” or minimal,cost or burden on the operation of the employer’s business. Hernández points out that an accommodation that involves shift changes could constitute more than a minimal burden to an employer, allowing the employer to deny such an accommodation.
In its defense, United has argued that allowing unvaccinated employees to continue working in customer-facing roles on-site “would impose extraordinary not just de minimis costs on United and the public.” The airline says it would have to implement a coronavirus testing program at more than 100 domestic airports and offices. Running such a program would cause a heavier workload for vaccinated co-workers and United notes that 97% of its employees are now vaccinated.
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The History Of Religion And Vaccination Efforts
Maybe faith could mean avoiding animal products a US court once ruled that a sincere adherence to veganism was grounds for a religious exemption to mandated flu vaccinations.
While new wrinkles are constantly being added, like the Muslims in Indonesia who now reportedly believe that most COVID-19 vaccines arent permitted under Islamic law, citing religion to avoid vaccination is a time-honored tradition.
An anti-vaccination movement that gripped Victorian England included religious opposition, and the objections of Christian Scientists to a 1966 New York state law mandating polio vaccinations led to it being the first of its kind in the US with a religious exemption.
Some conscientious vaccine objectors are banking on the idea that mandates will simply peter out. The American soap opera actor who lost his job, for example, played a character in a fictional world where death is often a temporary condition. He says hed be happy to return, too, once the shows workplace vaccine mandate is history.
So What Does All Of This Mean For Maines Vaccine Rules
Beginning on October 29, Maine will require all health care workers to be fully vaccinated with one lonely exception. Health care workers who could suffer health consequences if they received the Covid-19 vaccine, such as someone with a severe allergy to the vaccine that might prove fatal, are exempt from the requirement.
The plaintiffs in Does, relying on decisions like Roman Catholic Diocese, claim this singular exemption to the vaccine requirement forces the state to also exempt people with religious objections. Maine has plainly singled out religious employees who decline vaccination for religious reasons for especially harsh treatment, the Does plaintiffs claim in a brief to the justices, while favoring and accommodating employees declining vaccination for secular, medical reasons.
Its worth pausing to consider just what these plaintiffs are arguing. They claim that if the state offers any exemption whatsoever to the vaccine requirement even an exemption for people who will literally die if they are vaccinated then it must also provide an exemption to religious objectors.
The First Circuit held that policymakers do not have to make such an impossible choice. Quoting language from Fulton, the First Circuit noted that state policies run afoul of the Constitution when they prohibit religious conduct while permitting secular conduct that undermines the governments asserted interests in a similar way.
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Barriers Are Highest For Black Hispanic And Young Americans
Among the groups with particularly high combined rates of vaccine hesitancy and refusal, Hispanic Protestants, Americans ages 1829 and 3049, Black Protestants, and all Black Americans are significantly more likely than all hesitant and refuser Americans to say logistical factors impede their ability to get vaccinated.
More than four in ten Hispanic Protestants say time to get vaccinated or deal with the possible side effects is a critical reason or one of the reasons they have not gotten vaccinated yet. More than one-third of Americans ages 1829 and 3049 , Black Protestants , and Black Americans say the same. Black Protestants are most likely to report that a health condition is a critical reason or one of the reasons they have not gotten vaccinated. Substantial portions of Hispanic Protestants also report that health is a critical reason or one of the reasons they are not vaccinated. Hispanic Protestants are most likely to report that lack of childcare is an issue , but one in five Black Americans struggle with this as well. The same is true of having reliable transportationHispanic Protestants and Black Protestants are most likely to say that is a critical barrier or one of the reasons they are not yet vaccinated.
Here’s Where Major Religions Actually Stand On Vaccines
West Virginias Senate is reviewing a bill that would allow public school students to receive religious exemptions from vaccinations.
Debate over parents opting out of their childrens vaccinations have centered around the issue of herd immunity the fact that a large majority of a population must be immunized in order for that community to be protected against infectious disease. Despite what researchers have called a potential public health crisis, the majority of states currently offer religious exemptions. If the bill passes, West Virginia would become the 47th.
John Grabenstein, Senior Medical Director for Adult Vaccines for Merck Vaccines, published a paper on religious beliefs surrounding immunization in the peer-reviewed medical journal Vaccine in 2013.
Anti-vaccinators could argue that Grabensteins role with a company that manufactures and distributes vaccines poses a conflict of interest, but the paper notes that the researcher is himself a practicing Roman Catholic and has spent decades investigating the religious aspects of immunization.
The people who are claiming these exemptions its not religious exemption, but personal belief, he told Deseret News in 2015. My impression is thats what most of the objection is about.
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