Vaccines and Religious Exemptions: A Source List

As more companies and institutions impose vaccine mandates, many are now struggling to process and evaluate requests for religious exemptions. The following resources provide background and context for these ongoing conversations around exemptions. 

Many religious leaders and organizations encourage their community members to get the COVID-19 vaccine, including the Vatican, the National Association of Evangelicals, the National Council of Churches, the Jewish Orthodox Union and Rabbinical Council of America, and the National Muslim Task Force on COVID-19. A recent IFYC/PRRI study shows vaccine hesitancy is declining among faith groups, thanks in part to targeted advocacy within faith communities.

News Articles

Interfaith America, "As Vaccine Mandates Spread, Employers and Colleges Seek Advice on Religious Exemptions," (link)

NBC, “Confusing rules, loopholes and legal issues: College vaccination plans are a mess” (link)

Time, “Can Your Employer Require That You Get Vaccinated? It Depends Where You Live” (link)

Politico, “Democrats plan childhood immunization push as vaccines take center stage in governor’s race” (link)

The Gazette, “Some Colorado Springs faithful required to get COVID-19 vaccine likely will seek religious exemption” (link)

Bloomberg, “Religious Objections Stand in Path of Mask, Vaccine Mandates” (link)

National Catholic Reporter, “Two Catholic groups: No vaccine mandate without conscience protections” (link)

America Magazine, “Do not give religious exemptions for Covid vaccines, New York archdiocese tells its priests” (link)

Slate, “Why Is There a Religious Exemption for Vaccinations?” (link)

The New York Times, “Who Can Make You Get a Covid Vaccine?” (link)

Associated Press, “Momentum grows for closing gaps in US vaccine requirements” (link)

Associated Press, “Pushback challenges vaccination requirements at US colleges” (link)

CNN, Religious groups eye legal challenges to Delta variant restrictions and vaccine mandates (link)

The Atlantic, “Close the Churches,” (link)


Selected University and Hospital Resources

Columbia University Religious Exemption Form (link)

Princeton University Information (link)

Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (link)

Kaiser Permanente statement (link)


More Expert Resources

Employers' Guide to the Religious Exemption for the COVID-19 Vaccine (link)

Los Angeles Times Op-Ed: Don’t exempt religious objectors from vaccine mandates (link)

How to Handle an Employee's Request for a Medical or Religious Accommodation to a Vaccine Requirement (link)

Vaccine Exemptions and the Church-State Problem (link)

Religious exception for vaccination or religious excuses for avoiding vaccination (link)

History of Vaccines, "Vaccine Exemptions" (link)

Pew, "Amid measles outbreak, New York closes religious exemption for vaccinations – but most states retain it" (link)

States With Religious and Philosophical Exemptions From School Immunization Requirements (link)

Religious Exemptions to Vaccines and the Anti-Vax Movement (link)

Thou Shalt Not Take the Name of the Lord Thy God in Vain: Use and Abuse of Religious Exemptions from School Immunization Requirements (link)

What Are the Rules on Vaccine Exemptions? (link)

The covid-19 vaccine is here: what about religious and medical exemptions in the workplace? (link)

“On This Day, the Supreme Court Rules on Vaccines and Public Health” (link)

Various articles by members of the Vaccine Working Group on Ethics and Public Policy (link)

“Free Exercise and Shutdown Orders in a Pandemic” (link)

“Defining ‘Religion’” (link)


A Selection of Relevant Court Cases

Berg v. Glen Cove City School Dist., 853 F. Supp. 651 (E.D.N.Y. 1994) (link)

Employment Div. v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990) (link)

Jacobson v. Massachusetts 197 U.S. 11 (1905) (link)

United States v. Ballard, 322 U.S. 78 (1944) (link)

United States v. Seeger, 380 U.S. 163 (1965) (link)


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The opinions contained in this piece are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Interfaith Youth Core. Interfaith America encourages a wide range of views and strives to maintain a respectful tone with a goal of greater understanding and cooperation between people of different faiths, worldviews, and traditions.