In the past few weeks, dozens of friends, family members, and church members have asked me a version of the following question: “Do you know anything about how I (or a loved one) can get an exemption from getting a Covid vaccine?” My answer to that question is “Yes, I do, and I’d be delighted to help.” So, if you are anxious or worried, don’t be. Instead, I encourage you to fear not: The hope that we all have is that God is still on the throne, you are not alone, and there is a clear path that many people can take to get an exemption. The comfort that every Christian has is that God is still with them even when the world is not. Even more, what’s reassuring is that in all 50 states, federal law enables you to file a religious exemption at your job. In 46 out of 50 states, the law enables students to file a religious exemption at their respective colleges.
What follows is neither medical advice nor legal advice, but I hope to help you as best I can so that you will not have to spend tons of money on legal fees or waste time trying to figure things out all by yourself. Specifically, what I am going to talk about today is how to opt out using a religious exemption. (It goes without saying that if you have a legitimate medical exemption, then you will need to have a conversation with your doctor.) Thankfully, plenty of free resources are available to guide you on how to apply for a religious exemption. These include the Religious Exemption Letter Handbook, a very helpful resource supplied by Rita Palma of mykidsmychoice.com. Another is a FAQ authored by the attorney Peggy Hall of thehealthyamerican.org. I highly suggest you download and read the content in these resources. They explain what a religious exemption is, how to apply for one, what to say (in general), and what not to say (in general). If you find that a mandate is put in place at work or school, one of the initial steps you can take is to ask for the organization’s written vaccine policy. You can then read the policy, look for the exemption clause, and apply for an exemption based on the already-established policy. This way, you are not making up your own exemption but abiding by a policy that already exists. Once you apply for an exemption, you are typically required to write a signed statement that explains how your personal religious belief connects to vaccine refusal.
The question now becomes: What if you’re stuck? What if you don’t know what to say? What if you are sure you do not want the jabs but are unclear about how what the Bible says relates to that decision? Ultimately, the reason you object is going to be individual and personal. There is not a command in Scripture that says, “Thou shalt get the jabs,” or one that says, “Thou shall not.” But we also know that the Bible is sufficient: In His Word, God has supplied everything that we need for life and godliness (II Peter 1:3). Christians are called to use Scripture as a guide and then use the supplied divine principles to make a free, informed decision. You should therefore spend serious time meditating on the Scriptures and then contemplate how the Word of God informs your personal choice.
With all of that being said, what follows are three general biblical principles and how they translate into personal beliefs that connect to Covid vaccine refusal. What follows are not the reasons but some reasons some people may agree with. These principles move from the general to the particular and build atop one another.
Reason One. Mandates for Covid vaccines attempt to supplant the sovereignty of God. The Bible tells us that God is sovereign; therefore, anything that is not God is not sovereign (I Chronicles 29:11-12; Psalms 115:3). All Christians are therefore under a religious mandate to ultimately obey the Lord. Therefore, when there is a conflict of allegiances, the Holy Scriptures convict the Christian conscience that it must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29). If a Christian is mandated to undergo a medical procedure (vaccination) that causes a conflict of conscience, the Christian is not called to act against the conscience that his or her Creator embedded within them (Romans 1:19). A Christian’s conscience is ultimately held captive by the Word of God and nothing else. To disobey conscience would be a betrayal of faith and a sin; a Christian is not to willingly sin against God. Hence, the mandate to follow God’s holy Word is stronger than a vaccine mandate.
Reason Two. Mandates for Covid vaccines desecrate the image of God in people. All human beings (whether Christian or not) are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). Being made in the divine image simply means people are patterned and modeled after God. God is the freest being that is. God thus made humans free from birth in that they breathe their own air and pump their own blood. Consequently, this means all individuals have a God-given right to bodily autonomy: This autonomy includes freedom to either consent or not consent to medical interventions. Yes, people are free to do things to their bodies for their benefit or for their detriment, but the fact remains that humans are free. To supplant bodily autonomy would therefore desecrate the image of God in people. Being forced to take the vaccine would therefore equate to a pollution of the sacredness of the divine image in humankind, and the subsequent degradation and dehumanization of the individual. Desecration of the divine image creates the undue burden of anxiety, strife, and spits in the face of the Creator.
Reason Three. Mandates for Covid vaccines would force people to dishonor God with their bodies. In I Corinthians 10:31, Christians are commanded to honor God in whatever they do. This includes the minutiae of everyday life, such as what they have for breakfast. Subsequently, if a person believes a Covid vaccine to be unsafe or to be made using morally objectionable products (i.e., some vaccines are made using cultures from aborted fetal tissue), then taking a Covid vaccine would mean the Christian is dishonoring God with his or her body, which is a sin.
I hope these three reasons helped to get the wheels of your mind turning if you do decide to apply for a religious exemption. The last thing I will say is that if you seek formal legal assistance to navigate your situation, I have a name of an attorney for you: Patricia Finn, at www.patriciafinnattorney.com. She is located in New York State, and I have personally referred a couple of people to her firm. According to her own website, Ms. Finn is “experienced in the religious and medical exemption process for work related or school required vaccinations. [Her] firm assists in preparing religious exemption statements for those qualified. The firm assists clients in the medical exemption approval process when needed.”
Beloved, whatever you do, do for the glory of God.
Dr. C. H. E. Sadaphal