Why is there such a thing as “religious exemptions” as a way of getting around requirements (mandates) to get vaccinated against COVID? This is very wrong and harmful. As I have said before, there is NO good reason not to get the vaccines (with the exception of people with actual medical conditions or considerations that might, in fact, make the vaccines dangerous for them). The situation where many people are refusing to get the vaccine, when (in this country) it is widely available and free, is a major factor keeping COVID going, and allowing it to continue mutating, causing completely unnecessary deaths in large numbers. To put it simply: There should be NO such religious exemptions.
People have, and should have, a right to their religious beliefs—but they do not have the right to do serious harm to others, and to society (and the world) as a whole, in the name of those beliefs.
You cannot legally assault, rob, or murder someone because you say your religion requires you to do so. Those who, without a valid, scientifically-based reason, are refusing to get vaccinated—and to take other important measures like wearing masks around other people, especially in indoor settings—are actively contributing to spreading COVID and killing people.
As I have pointed out before: “Today, more than 90 percent of the people seriously ill and dying from COVID have not had vaccines (are unvaccinated).”1 And there is definite racial element to this as well: Black people, as well as other people of color, are dying at a higher rate than others from COVID.
The problem with “religious exemptions” from getting vaccinated is made even worse by the fact that many (though not all) of those who are refusing to get vaccinated—and are often spreading ridiculous rumors, outright lies and harmful disinformation about vaccines—are anti-scientific lunatic fascists, blatant white supremacists, as well as male supremacists, deeply committed to a crazed, fanatical religious (Christian) fundamentalism. Allowing “religious exemptions” from taking the vaccines provides huge numbers of these people with “legal cover” for their extremely harmful and dangerous actions that contribute to keeping the COVID pandemic going and killing more people, particularly more people of color.
Once again, there must be no such “religious exemptions.” Here is a very relevant and important principle that is set forth in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, which I have authored:
The right to religious belief and religious practice shall not be denied or abridged, except in the case of violation of the law and through due process of law.....nor may religious persons, groups, or institutions be granted rights or privileges which do not apply to the people in this Republic in general.2
This principle should be applied to society generally, including the current one we are now living in, under the rule of the system of capitalism-imperialism. True, it could be difficult to make this a reality, especially because Christian fascists are a dominant force on the Supreme Court—and because the promotion of religion is important for the capitalist-imperialist ruling class in general, even when that involves violation of the basic principle of “separation of church and state.” This is yet another reason why we need to sweep away this system, through a revolution that overthrows its violent rule (its dictatorship) and replaces it with a socialist system based on the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America.
But even now, while carrying out the struggle to hasten the necessary conditions and build up the organized forces for this revolution, there must be determined opposition to “religious exemptions” for vaccine mandates and everything that opposes and undermines legitimate and necessary measures to combat this pandemic, not just in this country but worldwide.