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)

 

If you are looking for a way to become an interfaith leader, work for racial equity and build bridges, please check out our free curriculum "We Are Each Other's" and start your interfaith leadership today

more from IFYC

The expansion is fueled by concerns over political polarization on college campuses, an infusion of funds from foundations interested in bridge-building, and a merger with IFYC, which has a track record facilitating interfaith engagement.
Ancient rabbis imagined the great chain of tradition, that went from generation to generation, as a ball that is tossed, playfully, from teacher to student. Is there a "Lasso Torah" inside a television show about a fish-out-of-water Midwestern football coach?
Studies show houses of worship have provided solace during the pandemic, but companies across the U.S. are struggling to respond to requests for religious exemptions to vaccine mandates.
Catholics leaders have urged vaccination to "protect the most vulnerable," and studies show this outreach is helping improve vaccination rates among Latino Catholics.
Across the country, people from all political divides, faiths and walks of life are coming together to help resettle Afghan refugees arriving at the borders.
The first episode of “Home Sweet Home,” which DuVernay said prioritizes curiosity over conflict, features the Wixx family — a “super queer” Black couple with three children.
Each week, we share our top 10 religion stories from journals, news sites, podcasts and magazines.
Dr. Abel Gomez: "If we’re talking about interfaith work and we want to expand the ability of communities to practice their religious ceremonies, I ask my students: if we think about the experience of Native people under the occupation of the United States, do they actually have religious freedom?"
The Fisk Jubilee Singers, based at the historically Black university founded by the abolitionist American Missionary Association and later tied to the United Church of Christ, started traveling 150 years ago on Oct. 6, 1871.
The last several months have been catastrophic for Haiti. The Aug. 14 earthquake left more than 2,200 people dead, followed by Tropical Depression Grace two days later. The country’s political sector has been in disarray & over 22,000 people have officially died during the pandemic.
Apache Stronghold will take part in a day of prayer Saturday (Oct. 9) at Oak Flat before meeting with leaders of the Tohono O’odham Nation, who will offer a blessing and prayer for their travels.
It’s not just interactions with friends and families that are getting cut. Routine yet beneficial interactions with people at fitness and child care centers and volunteer organizations are also being eliminated.
Ismaili Jamatkhanas are designed to be both places of worship and community engagement, so when the chance to conduct a vaccine drive became a possibility, volunteers mobilized quickly.
Amid personal and professional crises, the author writes that she finds her Christian faith "one of the most fruitful sources of hope, even in the darkest hours."
Facebook has been a catalyst for religious communities that aren’t defined geographically. For religious leaders who connect with their flocks on the internet, the outage was a reminder to own their information.
The pedestal that propped up the statue of Junipero Serra looks bare at first glance, but once a smartphone camera is aimed toward it, an animated monument honoring the Tongva, the Indigenous people of Los Angeles, comes alive.
A Lutheran church in Wisconsin recently hosted an interfaith dialogue between a pagan and Lutheran pastor. They will continue the conversation this month in an event hosted by the Parliament of the Worlds Religions in Chicago.
The articles and videos are by and about inspiring Latinx/a/o interfaith leaders from diverse religious communities.
Our top 10 religion stories of the week show religious pluralism as an opportunity, not a cause for despair. They're also great reads.
The law, possibly the first of its kind in the nation, is part of a larger effort by women athletes to have more say about what they wear while competing.
"We are American faith leaders from six different faith traditions, including yours," said a letter to President Joe Biden. "We see our nation continuing to spectacularly fail in welcoming the stranger."

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.