When The Courts Defend Religious Rights

Yesterday The Post Millennial posted an article about the Covid vaccine mandates in New York State.

The article reports:

A federal judge’s ruling on Tuesday says employers in New York’s healthcare sector must allow religious exemptions for the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Presiding Judge Hurd said the state government of New York doesn’t have the authority to ban religious exemptions.

He issued an injunction that bars the Department of Health from reprimanding employers for granting religious exemptions to staff.

In addition: “The Department of Health is barred from taking any action, disciplinary or otherwise, against the licensure, certification, residency, admitting privileges or other professional status or qualification of any of the plaintiffs on account of their seeking or having obtained a religious exemption from mandatory COVID-19 vaccination.”

The New York Times describes a contrast between former Governor Andrew Cuomo and the current governor; Cuomo allowed religious exemptions but Kathy Hochul took them away, which in itself triggered the lawsuit.

In light of today’s decision, Hochul said the state would be appealing the ruling:

“My responsibility as governor is to protect the people of this state, and requiring health care workers to get vaccinated accomplishes that. I stand behind this mandate, and I will fight this decision in court to keep New Yorkers safe.”

For whatever reason we seem to have a lot of elected leaders who have forgotten the God-given rights the U.S. Constitution was written to protect. There is evidence that some of the Covid vaccines or the research to develop the vaccines involved embryonic stem cells. For some religious people, that is a problem. The Constitution protects the rights of those people. The Governor of New York needs to respect religious freedom. It will be a sad day for Americans if the State of New York wins this case.

Actions Have Consequences

I am not a doctor, and I raised children before the controversy over vaccines began. I had my children vaccinated because it was what their pediatrician recommended. At the time that was pretty standard. Times have changed, and I am not sure what the right answer is, but at some point it seems that common sense should play a role.

The Hill is reporting today that state lawmakers are considering eliminating the vaccine  exemptions that have been granted to parents. The reason is the recent outbreaks of measles.

The article reports:

But the most recent measles outbreaks, which have infected 159 mostly unvaccinated people in 10 states, is leading some states to reconsider.

“That goes beyond religious freedom,” said Burke.

Every state requires that students be vaccinated to enroll in school, and all states allow exemptions for children who are too sick to receive vaccines or who have a weakened immune system.

Most states also allow exemptions for religious reasons, and 17 states, including Washington and Texas, allow exemptions for both religious and personal or philosophical beliefs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Both Washington and Texas have seen measles outbreaks this year.

Lawmakers in Iowa, New Jersey and Vermont, which already ban personal or philosophical exemptions, are now debating proposals to eliminate religious exemptions.

I am concerned that if these exemptions are eliminated, exemptions for more controversial vaccines will also be eliminated. I am also concerned that smallpox vaccines are no longer given to American children because the disease is said to have been eradicated in America. Unfortunately, a person recently stopped while attempting to enter America illegally was diagnosed with smallpox. I would like to think that he was the only person with the disease attempting to enter America, but I am not sure that is realistic.

The article concludes:

Outbreaks can occur in communities where there is not a high enough percentage of people who are vaccinated.

Described as “herd immunity” by public health experts, at least 94 percent of a community must be vaccinated against measles to prevent the disease from spreading.

Herd immunity protects those with weakened immune systems, babies who can’t be vaccinated or those who are too sick to receive vaccinations.

But as more and more parents claim vaccine exemptions, experts say, the disease is more likely to spread.

And federal officials have indicated the government might step in if state legislatures don’t.

“Some states are engaging in such wide exemptions that they’re creating the opportunity for outbreaks on a scale that is going to have national implications,” Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CNN last week.

If “certain states continue down the path that they’re on, I think they’re going to force the hand of the federal health agencies.”

Health committees in the House and Senate are set to hold hearings on the measles outbreaks this month.

It will be interesting to watch the hearings. Good arguments can be made on both sides of this issue.

Should Religion Influence Our Society ?

CNS News is reporting today on former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s recent comments about CatholicBishops:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) on Thursday described America’s Roman Catholic bishops as “lobbyists in Washington, D.C.” in their efforts to persuade the Department of Health and Human Service to rescind a proposed regulation under the new health-care law that would require all health care plans to cover sterilizations and all-FDA approved contraceptives, including abortifacients.

This statement shows a total lack of understanding of the role the clergy has played in American history and the role of the church as a positive influence on the culture and on the government. The American church was a major force in the ending of slavery. The church in America has a history of voicing its opinion on social and more issues.

The article reports that Obamacare would not continue the current religious exemption granted to Catholic hospitals and Catholic charities regarding birth control and abortion–the hospitals and charities would have to provide both. That means that these organizations would have to either drop health insurance for their workers or provide services that are against their faith.

The article reports:

At an Oct. 4 fundraiser in St. Louis, Obama bragged about the new regulation that will require all health plans to cover contraceptives without any co-pay.

“No longer can insurance companies discriminate against women just because you guys are the ones who have to give birth,” Obama said.

An audience member than called out: “Darn right!”

Obama answered in turn: “Darin tooting,” he said.  “They have to cover things like mammograms and contraception as preventive care, no more out-of-pocket costs.”

Unless the administration rescinds the proposed regulation, it will go into affect on Aug. 1, 2012.

Catholic Bishops are not lobbyists–they are religious leaders concerned about the moral condition of the culture. They need to be respected and listened to when they speak about laws that go against their religious beliefs.

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