Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Lying to Obtain a Religious Vaccine Exemption?

Religious exemptions to protect you or your children from vaccination: are you lying if you use one while not a member of an organized religion? Or what about if you call yourself an atheist? What about if you have no religion at all?

A quick google search uncovers plenty of inflammatory links implying parents are somehow doing something illegal, immoral or otherwise unsavory if they get a religious exemption sans a 10% tithe at their mega church every week. Mazel tov on your way to hell, is what they seem to be saying. If you believe in hell. Even anti-vaccine or vaccine-skeptic sources promote the idea that obtaining a religious exemption is some kind of anarchy, shaking a fist at the big man:


The misinformation burns!

I answer this question a couple times a week it seems and every time I answer it, I tell myself I need to compile a basic post so I can stop retyping everything out every time lol. *facepalm*

Religious exemptions, what they are, what they stand for and who can use them "legally" are perhaps the most misunderstood topic in the vaccine debate. And if you've debated vaccines, you realize that's a big statement!

Today I woke up to two messages. One was asking about religious exemptions and how to get them and the other was asking how else to get an exemption because she's not religious. It is time to write this post!

Currently, all 50 states in America have exemptions available so that a student can attend a public school (or a private school that received government funding) without vaccination. Yes, you read that correctly. When the media yells at you that vaccines are mandatory, they forgot to tell you that vaccines or a vaccine exemption are mandatory.

Of the 50 states, 48 states have a religious exemption available. This is where confusion sets in for many people on both sides of the debate. Under Federal Laws, "religious practices" are defined by law to include moral or ethical beliefs about what is right and wrong that are sincerely held with the strength of traditional views. Note the absence of the Bible and Jack Chick Pamphlets.

Your American right to (and FROM) religion is freedom regardless of membership with organized religions. Religious freedom includes your sincerely held moral or ethical beliefs about what is right and wrong.

What is religion? What is the definition of religious? A quick look at the dictionary gives us this:

re·li·gion

  [ri-lij-uhn] 
noun
1.
a set of beliefs concerning the cause, natureand purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing amoral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
2.
a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.
3.
the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.
4.
the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion.
5.
the practice of religious  beliefs; ritual observance of faith.


Now, that's the regular definition of religion. What about the legal definition? We are of course dealing with legalities here (emphasis mine):

Legal Concept of Religion 

"Therefore, in adherence to the First Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantee of freedom of religion, the test in determining whether a belief constitutes a "religious belief" sufficient to qualify for the religious exemption from immunizations, is whether the adherents' beliefs and faiths occupy a place in their lives parallel to that filled by the orthodox belief in God held by others; or any other "sincere religious beliefs which are based upon a power or being, or upon a faith to which all else is subordinate or upon which all else is ultimately dependent." U.S. Vs. Seeger, 380 U.S. 163 (1965), Sherr and Levy vs. Northport East-Northport Union Free School district, 672 F.Supp. 81, (E.D.N.Y. 1987)

"The right to claim exemption from immunization based on religious beliefs is available to all persons who hold religious beliefs against immunization regardless of what any state statute may say regarding the necessity for membership in any particular religious group or church. Definition of religion can include specific, recognized groups. And it can include rituals. But it is not restricted to only those concepts."

(Above 2 paragraphs are quoted from http://www.immunizationattorney.com/yourrights.html. Now archived on Vaclib.org. Their home page: http://www.immunizationattorney.com/.)

Are you an American who is not a member of an organized religion? Do you avoid practicing specific rituals? Do you dislike or disagree with popular sects and fundamental sets of beliefs? Well, guess what. You have religious freedom! In fact, you're practicing it already. 

Now, file those papers and stop acting like a criminal! Go to this site where you can search by state for requirements and forms: http://www.vaclib.org/exemption.htm. It's a very helpful site that includes information about declining vaccines and other medical interventions from pregnancy onwards, including adult exemption concerns with universities, the military and work.

You and your children have a right to bodily integrity and a right to practice your constitutional religious freedom. That means freedom to and from religion, including Vaccine Religion. Last time I checked, "heretics" have rights, too!

This is the land of the free after all, right?






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5 comments:

  1. My state, Iowa, has the medical and religious exemption. I'm not religious and there is no medical reason my kids can't be vaccinated. By the sound of the laws for Iowa, it sounds like I will still have to lie on the exemption form to send my kids to school. I'm very frustrated!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Our form (in Ohio) states it is against our belief to vaccinate. The daycare/preschool took them and so did my daughter's Help Me Grow evaluator who said that's what they would need if they went to a public school. Most of the moms I've talked to have said they cannot ask you what religion you practice. I go to church but do not call myself a Christian. I just...believe in God. Or something out there. So we really have no religion. YOU may not practice religion but that does not mean you cannot hold beliefs and thoughts about this world and about vaccinating.

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  3. Amanda, what she is saying is that if you have the belief that you and your children have the right to bodily integrity and are practicing those beliefs by not vaccinating then you are within the definition of the law of a "religion." Here is where I feel it stated everything I needed to know to hold my head up and not feel as if I'm lying: "...a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects..."

    Feel better?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Amanda, what she is saying is that if you have the belief that you and your children have the right to bodily integrity and are practicing those beliefs by not vaccinating then you are within the definition of the law of a "religion." Here is where I feel it stated everything I needed to know to hold my head up and not feel as if I'm lying: "...a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects..."

    Feel better?

    ReplyDelete