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Contributing writer Leah Wilson, Esquire, sets the Orlando Editorial Board straight on why their call for the end of the religious exemption for vaccination violates your Constitutionally-protected, First Amendment rights.
Dear Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board,
I am writing in response to your editorial “Florida should end religious exemptions to measles vaccine.” It appears that the Orlando Sentinel has taken some misguided cues on what it means to exercise and be afforded the freedom of religion in America. But I can hardly fault journalists for misunderstanding this foundational freedom because officials elected to protect their constituents’ best interests perpetuate the same misunderstanding. Senator Richard Pan shared your editorial piece on Facebook with the caption, "Florida should halt religious exemptions for vaccinations.... there is no inalienable right to catch a disease and spread it to the public.... no major religion prohibits vaccines.... It’s far more likely they worship at the anti-vax altar."
Your editorial echoed:
"There’s been a baffling surge in parents who use religious exemptions to excuse children from vaccination requirements. We say baffling because studies consistently show religion is becoming less influential in Americans’ lives. The gospel truth is that people aren’t getting more religious. They’re just using it as an excuse, and it’s time for the excuses to end."
Freedom of Religion is protected under the highest law of the land. The Constitution does not try to figure out who is “right” but protects all persons’ exercise of beliefs that are “religious in nature” and “sincerely held.” “Religious in nature” simply means between a person and God. Neither belonging to a “synagogue” nor a “rabbi’s” official stance matter in the slightest. In the U.S., the government cannot force a person to belong to an organized religion or specific church in order to exercise sincerely held religious beliefs and qualify for a religious exemption to vaccination. Such a requirement would violate both religion clauses of the First Amendment--Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The Constitution protects personal beliefs, not the church’s beliefs. In America, the relationship between man and God, no matter what the man calls his god, is between that man and his god.
It appears that you doubt the sincerity of people’s religious beliefs because of the “baffling surge” with the rising number of religious exemptions. Take note that just because an individual did not hold the religious belief in the past does not mean the individual does not do so today. Not only can beliefs change, an individual could have acted under pressure in certain circumstances. Repentance and salvation are real phenomena, ladies and gentleman. God save your soul if you believe a man can live without any regret or change in beliefs. In short, religious rights do not depend on whether an individual adhered to beliefs in the past. The rights depend on whether an individual meets the requirements of a belief that is religious in nature and sincerely held today.
Lawmakers who are using religious leaders’ statements to admonish religious followers to comply with mandatory vaccinations are deceiving the public about the breadth of Americans’ First Amendment rights. The First Amendment protects an individual’s personally held belief that they are acting upon a deific command to refrain from a practice that would otherwise put them in violation of such command. No one person, regardless of earthly or secular authority, can speak on behalf of the personal, religious beliefs of another person. The First Amendment rights are in place to protect the individual’s personal practice of religious beliefs, not the institution of religion.
Your public statements lobbying to eliminate religious exemptions to mandatory vaccination make you complicit with war on religion. This is so clear because you show zero interest in distinguishing between vaccine status and immune status. According to the CDC, a person can get immune status without ever being symptomatic or vaccinated. There are both immune and non-immune in both vaccinated and unvaccinated populations. The health issue is not vaccination status, it’s immune status. So if you’re going to compare people in the same or similar situation then look at immune status by identifying those children who lack immunity, have vaccine failure, or whose immunity has waned. The fact that it’s not worth the effort and trouble to distinguish immune status says a lot about the vaccine program’s agenda because there are several times more non-immune kids than there are unvaccinated kids.
"Florida should halt religious exemptions for vaccinations. That may sound like a violation of the First Amendment, but there is no inalienable right to catch a disease and spread it to the public."
This is quite the creative spin on a person’s religious beliefs. Is it really a right to disease that individual’s are claiming or is it the right to choose between two unknowns--the risks of the disease and the risks of pharmaceutical products. While you may decide to blindly put your faith in the pharmaceutical industry, Americans have the right to trust God’s perfect protection of all living things. What better to guide you on the care and concern of your physical health than something higher than this physical realm. There are hundreds of questions in life that scientific literature can’t inform. That’s exactly the time that a person looks to their god to guide decision making.
"There’s no doubt some applicants have genuine moral or ethical problems with vaccinations. But that group hardly matches the number of people seeking religious exemptions.
It’s far more likely they worship at the anti-vax altar."
What is this “anti-vax altar” you mention? The altar that protects unborn children from the use of vaccinations that have never been tested on pregnant women? Or is it the altar that says parents have the right to choose whether to put their faith in the artificial immunity scantly offered by risky pharmaceutical products? Or maybe you are referring to the altar of those that so humbly raise their voice against the pharmaceutical empire that stands to profit roughly 60 billion dollars per year liability free on the sale of vaccines. Regardless of your personal religious beliefs, how can you sleep at night being on the side of bullying minorities, targeting people that aren’t like you, perpetutuating anti-semitism, and alienating people with different beliefs? There is nothing more unAmerican.
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