Associated Press Calls Religious Exemptions to Coronavirus Vaccines a ‘Bluff’

A health worker sitting under a crucifix prepares a syringe at the vaccination center installed at the Barbara Chapel of the famous St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna on August 11, 2021, amid the novel coronavirus / COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP) (Photo by ALEX HALADA/AFP via Getty …
ALEX HALADA/AFP via Getty Images

The Associated Press (AP) described religious exemptions to the coronavirus vaccines as a “loophole” and a “bluff” in its report published Thursday.

“Religious objections, once used only sparingly around the country to get exempted from various required vaccines, are becoming a much more widely used loophole against the COVID-19 shot,” the AP article by Colleen Long and Andrew Demillo declared.

In Arkansas, “a hospital has been swamped with so many such requests from employees that it is apparently calling their bluff,” it declared.

The 1230-word article makes no effort to justify its assertion that those seeking a religious exemption are indeed bluffing, insisting only that employers are in the tough position “of determining what is a legitimate religious belief and what is a dodge.”

The federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 says employers must make reasonable accommodations for employees who object to work requirements because of “sincerely held” religious beliefs, the article notes.

The article does acknowledge that Roman Catholic leaders in New Orleans and St. Louis called Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine “morally compromised,” adding that the Vatican’s doctrinal office has said it is “morally acceptable” for Catholics to receive the vaccines.

An illustration picture shows vials with Covid-19 Vaccine stickers attached and syringes with the logo of US pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson on November 17, 2020. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

An illustration picture shows vials with Covid-19 Vaccine stickers attached and syringes with the logo of US pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson on November 17, 2020 (JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images).

 

In this Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020 file photo, a Catholic pastor receives the first of the two Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccinations at a hospital in Chicago. In a growing consensus, religious leaders at the forefront of the anti-abortion movement in the United States are telling their followers that the leading vaccines available to combat COVID-19 are acceptable to take, given their remote and indirect connection to lines of cells derived from aborted fetuses. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

In a growing consensus, religious leaders at the forefront of the anti-abortion movement are telling followers the leading vaccines available to combat COVID-19 are acceptable to take (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast).

Resorting to innuendo rather than evidence, the article suggests that many of those seeking a religious exemption or assisting others in doing so are politically motivated in their attempts to “circumvent” the vaccine mandates.

It also employs scare quotations to impugn the veracity of those seeking such an exemption.

“Across the U.S., public officials, doctors and community leaders have been trying to help people circumvent COVID-19 mask and vaccine requirements,” it states.

“In Tulsa, Oklahoma, pastor Jackson Lahmeyer is offering a ‘religious exemption’ form on his church’s website for download, along with links for suggested donations to the church,” it declares, adding that the “29-year-old is running for the U.S. Senate as a Republican.”

For their part, the Colorado Catholic bishops have expressed satisfaction that the Denver vaccine mandate expressly included “accommodation for sincerely held religious beliefs,” insisting this is “appropriate under the laws protecting freedom of religion.”

“We always remain vigilant when any bureaucracy seeks to impose uniform and sweeping requirements on a group of people in areas of personal conscience,” the bishops stated. “Throughout history, human rights violations and a loss of respect for each person’s God-given dignity often begin with government mandates that fail to respect the freedom of conscience.”

“In the case of the COVID-19 vaccine, we are convicted that the government should not impose medical interventions on an individual or group of persons,” they added. “We urge respect for each person’s convictions and personal choices.”

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