- So what exactly are the requirements for religious exemptions, especially in Utah? Would religious beliefs against vaccination, based on personal revelation outside of the official doctrine, qualify for a religious exemption? If so, would that claim stand up in cour t?
- It also has to be a religious issue, not just apprehension about the vaccine.
- “What is going on in the vaccine situation is that people may have different kinds of fears about the vaccines or different kinds of information, but that doesn’t necessarily qualify something as a religious belief,”
- And even beliefs that meet both criteria don’t automatically get a pass. For instance, he continued, if a modern-day Abraham were to sacrifice a modern-day Isaac in the middle of Salt Lake City, he would still face criminal charges, even if he claims God told him to do it. “A sincere religious belief does not automatically immunize you from the force of the law,” Durham continued.
At a state level, he said, there needs to be a compelling reason for overriding sincere religious be liefs that cannot reasonably be achieved another way. In the previous example, that would be preservation of life. In the case of COVID-19 vaccinations, the interest in public health and protecting people from possible illness, hospitalization and death might be strong enough to override a religious exemption.
- When personal religious beliefs lead to a different stance than that of a traditional faith, it is possible to claim what’s called “conscientious objection,” Durham said, but he added that is “rare and hard to establish.”
- Employers have more flexibility when determining qualification for religious exemptions. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers are required to accommodate employees’ sincerely held religious beliefs unless it would cause “undue hardship” on “de minimis” or small level for the business.
- “A good employer will try to accommodate religious beliefs, but they are not required to if the risk is too high,”
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