Can you get a religious exemption for the COVID-19 vaccine?

Coronavirus Vaccine

(NewsNation Now) — With more businesses and cities imposing COVID-19 vaccine requirements, many people are looking for religious exemptions around the rules. Some legal experts say those exemptions are irrelevant.

On Instagram, the lead pastor of Destiny Christian Church in Rocklin, California, issued an open invitation to anyone seeking religious exemption from mandatory vaccination.

“We are not anti-VAX but we are pro-freedom here at Destiny,” Greg Fairrington said in the video. “So working with our legal team, we have come up with a religious exemption. If you feel morally compromised by taking this vaccine, we have a form for you.”

Numerous churches across the country are offering the same, including Freedom House in Charlotte. A pastor there also sounded off on Instagram.

“Unmask your kid and say no to mandatory vaccine,” he said.

This week, Pope Francis urged the world’s hundreds of millions of Catholics to get vaccinated, calling it an “act of love.”

But, some among the faithful continue to seek a religious out.

“It’s going to be the rights of religious liberty versus the rights of the whole that can prove that there’s undue hardship to those outside of that religious liberty circle,” Sacramento attorney Mark Reichel said.

Law firms have been inundated with cases and questions about vaccine mandates. But exemption forms issued by churches may not be worth the paper they’re written on. 

“It’s fine to not have a religious letter,” Kristen Prinz with The Prinz Law Firm said. “It’s actually probably a little strange, almost, to have a letter unless the letter is explaining the basis for the religious exemption.”

Legal experts say federal law does prohibit religious-based discrimination by employers, but at the same time, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires a safe and healthy work environment. 

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