LONSBERRY: Can You Get a Religious Exemption If You Don’t Believe In God?

Can you file for a religious exemption if you don’t believe in God?

               In good conscience, can you file for a religious exemption from a vaccination mandate if your church and its leaders encourage you to get vaccinated? Can you file for a religious exemption if you affiliate with no religion and have no discernible religious inclination at all?

               Of course.

               The questions arise as the result of a dictate from New York’s governor that all healthcare workers be vaccinated for covid by next Monday or be fired. More specifically, fired for cause – insubordination – and denied unemployment benefits. Further such healthcare workers are to be reported to the state for the threatened forfeiture of any professional license or certification they may have.

               That means that if you are a certified nursing assistant, you lose your certification. If you are a registered nurse, you lose your registration. You lose not just your job and your livelihood, you lose your career.

               They’re the government, you can’t fight them.

               They are all powerful.

               Even bigger than God, to hear them talk. Literally. The state of New York has stopped honoring religious exemptions to its vaccine mandates. That’s why so many little Christian kids can’t go to school or play school sports anymore. In some fight against extirpated measles, the unvaccinated are officially now second-class citizens.

               More correctly, the disobedient are now second-class citizens.

               It’s not about shots, it’s about submission.

               But, back to religious exemptions.

               Last week, a federal judge issued an order which – at least temporarily – allowed for religious exemptions to be submitted by employees and considered again. It is a process which requires individuals to assert to their employers that their faith forbids their submission to a certain product or procedure, and it asks the employer to grant them a waiver from the requirement so that they can be obedient to God.

               How humiliating.

               What sort of freedom of religion is it that allows the government and your boss to decide what aspect of your faith you may or may not exercise?

               Anyway, hospitals and nursing homes are now receiving requests from healthcare workers asking for religious exemptions to the covid vaccination mandate.

               Which gets back to the question: Do you need to believe in God or have the approval of religious elders to apply for a religious exemption?

               The answer: Absolutely not.

               First of all, what you believe is between you and God. Or no god. Or some god you just made up. Or that rock over there. Or you and the little voice you hear in your head. You are the sole arbiter of your faith. Only you can know what you believe. Which makes “requests” for a religious exemption preposterous. Where exactly does the Human Resources department get the magical ability to discern the orthodoxy, acceptability or sincerity of your faith?

               You don’t ask what you can believe, you tell what you believe.

               That’s one point. Here’s another.

               You don’t need to believe in God to claim a religious exemption because the nation believes in God. Not the people, the entity. The United States. It says so, right in the Declaration.

               “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,” it states. “Among these are, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

               That’s all the holy writ you need to declare a religious exemption.

               It is not necessarily your belief in God that justifies a religious exemption, it is the Founders and the founding document’s belief that guarantees it.

               The Declaration of Independence declares, as the founding tenant of the nation, that God is the source of our rights, and that, among these rights, are “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Those are divine endowments, as holy in their origin as any message spoken on Sinai or Hira – that is the assertion of the Founding Fathers.

               Living your life, exercising your liberty, and pursuing your happiness are divine errands empowered and sanctioned by God Almighty.

               Yes, he calls us to do all those things in a context of faith in him and obedience to his commandments. He asks us to choose him, but he forces no one. And he frees everyone, that we might morally choose for ourselves.

               And he makes us – and him – the judges of how we are doing. We have a conscience, we have moral agency, we are – in this life – our own judges.

               Not the governor. Not the people in HR. Not the judge in his robes.

               If your conscience and heart tell you that, for you, a vaccine is wrong, then the living of your life, the exercising of your liberty and the pursuing of your happiness are all infringed if you are mandated to get that vaccine. Your divinely provided unalienable rights are alienated from you immorally and unjustly.

               And that is wrong.

               And avoiding such wrongs – such government interferences in personal moral choices – is what drove some of the first settlers of America to these shores.

               It doesn’t matter what the popes or the prophets or the pastors say. It matters what you think.

               You don’t have to believe in God to get a religious exemption, because the Declaration of Independence believes in him.

               My religion is America, and it says I am free, and any appeal for liberty is an appeal to the author of liberty, our Creator and God, our Heavenly Father.

               And that justifies every religious exemption you might want to make.

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