The Biden Administration recently mandated that businesses with 100 employees or more get vaccinated or tested weekly. Hospitals, airlines, and other industries are requiring employees to get vaccinated. As a result, one of the more popular questions I am being asked lately is “What is your opinion about Christians applying for a ‘religious exemption’ for the Covid-19 vaccination?” First, let me be clear that I am personally against vaccine mandates. It’s my opinion that the choice to get vaccinated should be made individually, like any other medical decision. One made with a lot of prayer, thorough and objective research, and a clean conscience. However, applying for a religious exemption from the Covid vaccine is a decision that should not be made lightly, as courts and employers will be looking for sufficient proof and consistency in your life that warrants an exemption.
The Burden of Proof
Our legal counsel the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) says that if you claim a “religious exemption” you will have to provide ample proof. They give the following advice
“You must first determine if your objection is based on a sincerely held religious belief against taking any of the available vaccines (since they are different), or whether your objections are based on other medical, health, cultural or political but not religious concerns… A belief that taking a vaccine is unwise or could be harmful will normally be considered a medical or health objection, not a religious objection.”
In other words, if you believe the vaccine will alter your DNA, or believe that you can only catch the Coronavirus by watching a liberal news network, or you worry the vaccine contains nanobots that can track your every move, none of those would qualify as a “religious exemption.”
Valid Reasons for Applying for a Religious Exemption
S. Michael Houdmann founder of GotQuestions.Org, states there are only 3 valid religious exemptions:
1) The claim that the COVID-19 vaccines are developed from aborted fetal cells.
2) Because Christians view their bodies as “the temple” of God they should not subject their bodies to the risks of these vaccines that have long-term unknown side effects.
3) Some Christians believe these vaccines are the “mark of the beast” mentioned in Revelation 13.
To adequately determine if you have ample proof to apply for a religious exemption from the COVID-19 vacation let’s look deeper at the 3 valid reasons for exemption
The COVID-19 vaccines were developed from aborted fetal cells.
Many medications and vaccines have been developed from the cells from one of two fetuses, one that was aborted in 1972 and the other in 1985. These are often referred to as “immortal cell” lines because they keep on reproducing more cells. Of the COVID vaccines available in the United States only one the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was made from the fetus aborted in 1972. AstraZeneca, a European vaccine likewise, is made from the fetus aborted in 1985. As a Christian I believe that life is sacred and begins at conception (Jer 1:5), and therefore would be opposed to these vaccines as they directly conflict with my biblical faith.
However, not all the vaccines available in America were made from aborted fetal material. Two manufacturers, Moderna and Pfizer are synthetic mRNA (Messenger RNA) and do not use any cells in their production. When it came to testing these two vaccines, it’s possible there may have been some use of fetal cells. However, the cells used for testing were cloned from the aborted fetuses and were not the “actual” cells of the fetus. Unfortunately, this testing method is commonly used on a wide variety of vaccines and medications including Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and Ibuprofen (Advil).
Lawyers tell us that many are using religious exemptions as a smokescreen to cover up the fact that they just do not want to get the vaccine. One attorney said if a case like this went to trial, the judge would be looking for a demonstration of consistent faith in action.
For example, let’s say you were to claim a religious exemption because your faith views life as sacred and therefore you are opposed to the use of aborted fetal cells to create or to test these vaccines. In that situation, the judge would be looking for consistency. There are indeed those who have refused to allow themselves or their children to receive any form of vaccine because of their deeply held religious convictions regarding abortion. A judge would see their views regarding the Covid vaccine as being consistent with their demonstrated faith, and likely grant a religious exemption.
On the other hand, perhaps you claim a religious exemption based on its connection to abortion, but your medical history shows an inconsistency. Perhaps you’ve received other vaccinations that have a connection to fetal cells like the Chickenpox, Shingles, Measles-Rubella, Polio, and a host of other vaccines, it would be inconsistent to all the sudden claim a religious exemption for the Covid vaccine. Or if you have ever used Tylenol to reduce a fever or Tums for heartburn relief or Claritin to relieve your hay fever, then your past medical history demonstrates that you shouldn’t be bothered that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines may have been tested on cloned fetal cells either.
Your body is “the temple” of God and we should not subject it to the risks of long-term unknown side effects.
Some may have concerns regarding side effects, allergic reactions, or fertility issues. These may be valid reasons for exemption, but they would need to be medically verified. This would be more of a medical or health exemption, rather than religious exemption.
However, perhaps your personal conviction is not medical but biblical. According to your belief 1 Cor 6:19 says, “your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you.” As a result, you believe taking the risk of getting vaccinated could potentially be harmful to your body or irresponsible as steward of God’s temple because of possible side effects.
Once again, the burden of proof is consistency. If you are going to claim that your body is the “temple” of God, then you must demonstrate that you treat it like a temple in other areas of your life as well. Do you have a healthy diet and exercise routine? Do you put chemicals or addictive substances into your body? Do you avoid other medications that have adverse or unknown side effects, because your body is the temple of God?
The Vaccine is the Mark of the Beast in Revelation 13.
I personally do not believe they are the mark of the beast and have already dealt with that subject in an earlier article you can find here. But there are some Christians who truly have this conviction, and that would qualify as a true religious exemption.
Ultimately, if you are thinking about applying for a religious exemption from the COVID-19 vaccination, it is not as simple as saying, “it’s against my religious views.” As the Christian attorneys with ADF remind us, “you have to provide ample proof” the Covid vaccines violate your religious convictions. Part of the ample proof required is to be able demonstrate a consistency in your actions prior to COVID that mirrors your views regarding this current vaccination.
Other Resources to consider regarding religious exemptions for the Covid vaccine: