This post includes two exemplar letters for your religious exemption, prepared for a relative facing an employer mandate. I'm not a lawyer and this is not legal advise. Please update and personalize them to fit your beliefs. At the bottom I provide some responses to invasive questions an employer might ask.
Do Not Quit!
Be aware! There is no such thing as a religious exemption "request". Your employer MUST provide religious accommodation once you have stated your beliefs or they will be sued and lose. The burden is on them to prove they cannot accommodate your beliefs. These request forms are being used to collect information to be used AGAINST YOU when you inevitably sue them for discrimination. They will likely interview you and attempt to get you to contradict your written statement. Major harassment and discrimination, if you ask me. What they think of your beliefs doesn't matter. Be brief and brave.
What is at issue is your personal beliefs, not your employer's or pastor's beliefs. They will use fear and intimidation to get you to change your story or trick you into contradicting yourself. Hold onto your beliefs, many many people are with you!
Liberty Counsel (LC.org) - pro bono religious attorneys fighting these mandates
VivaBarnesLaw.locals.com - Legal community
Coffee and Covid - Religious lawyer
My previous post of letter to employer with helpful links and citations
This is my personal favorite version.
[To whom it may concern],
Taking this vaccine violates my conscience for at least three reasons: first, the use of aborted fetuses (fetal cell lines HEK-293 and PER.C6) in either the development or production of these vaccines, or both, when my religious beliefs require that I respect all human life, including fetal life, and not knowingly profit from harm to fetal life; second, the invasion of my body with foreign toxins when my religious beliefs require I treat my body as a temple, and not so knowingly desecrate it; and third, the coercion against informed consent of this vaccine when my religious beliefs require all medical treatment be conditioned upon informed consent.
This is a matter of life and death, the very purpose for which I live my life, respect for all human beings and all human life in the world, a core matter of right and wrong, and essential to my very being. I cannot violate my conscience on such a core matter of my morals and the beliefs that guide me and govern me, formed by religious beliefs and as instructed by my religious tenets. I have never knowingly taken any vaccine, or any medicine, developed or produced with aborted fetal cells, that invaded my body with foreign toxins, or that were compelled against informed consent.
The violation of informed consent is a matter of religious conscience and moral code; what the Nazi doctors did is morally wrong, spiritually offensive, and participating or partaking in such invasive, coerced medicine at any time offends the very core of my conscience. I cannot consciously disrespect human life, and the core of what makes us human and the dignity it requires we treat ourselves and our fellow human beings, even if it might medically or financially profit me to do so. Some things are not for sale; my conscience, formed by the core of religious tenets, is one of them.
I want to keep my job. I have been a loyal and productive employee here since [DATE].
Source pdf. Put in your own words as appropriate. You do not need to cite any scripture. This is all about your own personal beliefs, not the teachings or practices of a specific religion.
Dear [HR Department]:
[Employer] has directed me to get vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine, or
suffer adverse employment action, up to and including termination.
However, I cannot receive a COVID-19 vaccine because to do so would violate
my sincerely held religious beliefs. All of the currently available COVID-19 vaccines used cell lines originating from aborted children in their manufacturing or testing.
As a Christian, I believe that life begins at conception and ends at natural
The Scriptures reveal that God knows us even before we are conceived. See
Jeremiah 1:4 – 5 (“The word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a
prophet to the nations.’”). And God’s creative powers are effectively at work while we are yet in the womb. See Psalm 139:13 – 16 (“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and
wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”).
The Christian Church has condemned abortion – the killing of human infants
while in the womb – from earliest times. The Didache, a conduct code of the early
Christian community, dated by some as being as early as 70 AD, is in accord with
Scripture, stating: “[D]o not abort a fetus or kill a child that is born.” Loeb Edition of the Apostolic Fathers (also translated as, “Thou shalt not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is begotten.”). A Plea for Christians, written around AD 177 by Athenagoras, stated, “[W]e say that those women who use drugs to bring on abortion commit murder, and will have to give an account to God for the abortion.” Tertullian, in his Apologeticum, written in 197 AD, wrote: “Murder being once for all forbidden, we [Christians] may not destroy even the fetus in the womb, . . .”
Hence it is my sincerely held religious belief that abortion is murder, a
violation of one of the Ten Commandments (“You shall not murder.” Exodus 20:13), and, for that reason, it would violate my sincerely held religious beliefs to cooperate with or be complicit in abortion in any way.
The COVID-19 vaccines were developed or tested using cell lines that were
generated or derived from tissues of aborted fetuses. J&J used an aborted fetal cell
line in manufacturing its COVID-19 vaccine, while Moderna and Pfizer used aborted fetal cell lines in testing the efficacy of their vaccines. See James Lawler, MD, You asked, we answered: Do the COVID-19 vaccines contain aborted fetal cells” Louisiana Department of Health, December 21, 2020, https://ldh.la.gov/assets/oph/CenterPHCH/Center-PH/immunizations/You_Have_Qs_COVID-19_Vaccine_FAQ.pdf.
So, it is my sincerely held religious belief that, in being vaccinated with any of
the currently available COVID-19 vaccines, I would be cooperating with and complicit in abortion – the ending of an innocent human life – and that such would constitute a sin against God and a violation of His Commandments, for which I would be held morally accountable by God.
For that reason, I am requesting a religious accommodation, under Title VII
and any similar [state where employer located] state law(s), that will excuse me from having to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, and further request that no adverse
employment action be taken against me on account of my religious beliefs.
Thank you for your anticipated consideration.
Title VII’s protections also extend nonreligious beliefs if they are related to morality, ultimate ideas about life, purpose, and death. See EEOC, Questions and Answers: Religious Discrimination in the Workplace (June 7, 2008), (“Title VII’s protections also extend to those who are discriminated against or need accommodation because they profess no religious beliefs”).
First and foremost, there is no such thing as a religious exemption "request". It is the LAW! "They have to accommodate your religious or moral beliefs." They are attempting to get your statement in writing to get you to contradict yourself at a later date as evidence that these aren't sincerely held religious beliefs.
Some people have shared extra hurdles employers are putting on people to exercise their religious rights. Below are just a few possible question or requirements you might run across, followed by simple responses.
It's very important to understand, it has been established in court religious exemption extends to matters of spiritual or personal conscience. It is the employer's burden to provide you with religious accommodation, not yours to prove your beliefs.
Supreme Court in Fowler v. Rhode Island, 345 U.S 67 (1953) ‘[I]t is no business of courts to say . . . what is a religious practice or activity.’
Recent US District Court in NY injunction decision...
Under Title VII, “[t]he term ‘religion’ includes all aspects of religious observance and practice, as well as belief, unless an employer demonstrates that he is unable to reasonably accommodate [ ] an employee’s . . . religious observance or practice without undue hardship on the . . . employer’s business.” § 2000e(j)
This protection for religious belief means that “[a]n employer may not take an adverse employment action against an applicant or employee because of any aspect of that individual’s religious observance or practice unless the employer demonstrates that it is unable to reasonably accommodate that Case 1:21-cv-01009-DNH-ML Document 22 Filed 10/12/21 Page 12 of 27 - 13 - observance or practice without undue hardship.” Equal Emp. Opportunity Comm’n v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc., 575 U.S. 768, 776 (2015) (Alito, J., concurring). Importantly, however, “Title VII does not demand mere neutrality with regard to religious practices . . . . [r]ather, it gives them favored treatment.” Id. at 775 (majority opinion). Thus, under certain circumstances, Title VII “requires otherwise-neutral policies to give way to the need for an accommodation.” Id.
The Supreme Court has recognized that “[t]he loss of First Amendment freedoms, for even minimal periods of time, unquestionably constitutes irreparable injury.” Pls.’ Mem. at 19 (quoting Elrod v. Burns, 427 U.S. 347, 373 (1976) (plurality opinion)Under Title VII, “[t]he term ‘religion’ includes all aspects of religious observance and practice, as well as belief, unless an employer demonstrates that he is unable to reasonably accommodate [ ] an employee’s . . . religious observance or practice without undue hardship on the . . . employer’s business.” § 2000e(j)
Why can the “reasonable accommodation” that is extended to a medically exempt healthcare worker under § 2.61 not similarly being extended to a healthcare worker with a sincere religious objection?
Why have you chosen to depart from previous existing religious accommodation practices for this vaccine and similar vaccination mandates?
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