While medical exemptions must be supported by a letter from a medical professional, religious exemptions do not require the support or endorsement from an official clergy or recognized religious leader. Instead, it requires that the person seeking the exemption explain why his/her "sincerely held religious beliefs" prevents him/her from accepting the employer's requirement of vaccination.
This article is written because our ministry has had calls from pastors who wanted to know what to do if a church member asks them to write a letter for a religious exemption regarding vaccines in order to keep their employment. This type of request places a pastor in an uncomfortable setting: Helping a church member outside your scope of authority, experience, or legal interpretation. Such a request can jeopardize your relationship with your church member as well as creating additional issues with the State and Federal government towards you as a pastor. It is not a good idea to allow a church member place you in this precarious position. Here is sample outline to help you in determining how to respond.
NOTE: Pastoral Care, Inc. is not a legal entity and does not attempt to provide legal advice to you or any church member. We only provide a logical way of diverting the risk from you, as a pastor, to them individually. If you feel you need further instructions, please contact your church attorney.
Thoughts & Questions concerning religious exemptions to the COVID vaccine. Consider these:
1. Your church may not have a moral or scriptural opposition to this or any other vaccine. But IT DOES NOT MATTER what your church’s stand is. According to 1 Corinthians chapter 10, matters of personal conscience are just that: PERSONAL. And the church is called to respect that - even if we think your objection is misplaced (read 1 Cor 10).
2. Any objection to this vaccine is to be based SOLELY on the conviction of the individual. Freedom of Religion is granted to the INDIVIDUAL - not the organization. The organization has Freedom of Religion only because of the individuals who make up the organization.
3. Your company may ask your church or organization to validate the sincere beliefs of you as an individual - but your company does not need your church to agree with or defend your stance.
4. Procter & Gamble recently asked a church to “prove” why a church believes what it believes (they assumed they were anti-vax), but P&G overstepped. We do not need to have any corporate person to approve of what we teach or believe. (You may want to refuse to respond to such a request) P&G made the foolish assumption that if a church member opposed the vaccine, then the church must also oppose it, but it doesn’t work that way. In this case, their State Representative has sent them a letter calling them out and showing their actions to be contrary to the law and the Constitution of both Wisconsin and these United States. They are awaiting their response.
Many who struggle with their conscience over receiving this vaccine have asked for help from a pastor in crafting a response to their company’s inquiries. And though we have no religious objection to this or any vaccine, for the sake of those who do, we offer the following suggestions:
If your company asks -
“Describe your religious belief, observance, or practice that you believe is in conflict with the Company’s requirement that you receive a COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment with the Company.”
Simply reply -
My religious belief, observance and practice is that of a follower of Jesus Christ and I base my moral decisions on my understanding of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments.
If they further ask -
“Specifically describe how your religious belief, observance, or practice conflicts with the Company’s requirement that you receive a COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment.”
Simply reply -
The New Testament states the following:
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
As a practicing Christian who believes that his body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit, I do not
•Take illegal drugs
•Drink in excess
•Cohort with prostitutes
•Participate in Orgies
•Engage in Wife Swapping
•Participate in any activity I deem immoral
•And I do not ingest anything I believe to be harmful to my temple, including certain vaccines – particularly those that are widely reported to cause harmful side-effects, no matter how rare.
[You can customize your moral objections as you see fit]
To insist that I degrade my body – the Temple of the Holy Spirit – is an infringement upon my religious beliefs. I, therefore, respectfully decline any COVID vaccine. That is all you need to say.
DO NOT BRING UP FETAL CELLS!!
Our contact checked with both Wisconsin Right to Life and National Right to Life and neither leading pro-life organization said they had any problem with the research from these fetal cells. Also, the Bible says nothing directly about such research. Furthermore, many common medicines come from the same fetal cell research, specifically - Tylenol, Pepto Bismol, Ibuprofen, Benadryl and Claritin. If you admit using of any of these and other modern drugs, you will be denied. You will be standing completely on your own.
Finally (for a pastor to say), please do not ask me to provide a letter validating that you are a devout Christian unless you attend my church and do so actively. I will not lie for you.
I just thought you might want a copy of this. You can use this or check with our District attorneys if needed.
NOTED AGAIN: Pastoral Care, Inc. is not a legal entity and does not attempt to provide legal advice to you or any church member. We only provide a logical way of diverting the risk from you, as a pastor, to them individually. If you feel you need further instructions, please contact your church attorney.
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