“There is no credible religious argument against vaccines”


As Americans increasingly seek religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccination warrants, many religious leaders are telling them no.

With more and more employers imposing mandates, the pressure for exemptions has grown stronger. The problem for many people whose faith leads them to oppose abortion is that the most widely used coronavirus vaccines have been tested on fetal cell lines developed over decades in laboratories, although vaccines themselves do not contain such material.

Among the religious leaders rejecting the exemptions is Reverend Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Dallas, who said he and his staff “neither offer nor encourage members to seek religious exemptions from vaccination mandates.”

“There is no credible religious argument against vaccines,” the senior pastor of the downtown mega-church told The Associated Press in an email. “Christians who are troubled by the use of a fetal cell line to test vaccines should also refrain from using Tylenol, Pepto Bismol, Ibuprofen and other products using the same cell line. ‘they are sincere in their objection. “

Although he aligned himself with former President Donald Trump – whose supporters are among the least vaccinated Americans – Jeffress has been a strong supporter of coronavirus vaccines. First Baptist held immunization clinics in the spring, with Jeffress encouraging his devotees to get vaccinated so they could worship safely in person.

Jeffress, who is vaccinated, also compared his positions on vaccination and abortion: “We say that life in the womb is a gift from God,” he told Fox News. “Well, life outside the womb is also a gift from God.”

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York laid out its own vaccine exemption position over the summer, saying any priest issuing a letter of exemption would “act in contradiction” to Pope Francis’ statements that receiving the vaccine. vaccine is morally acceptable and responsible.

The Vatican and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have said Catholics can receive the vaccines in good conscience given the lack of alternatives and the goal of alleviating suffering – even by opposing research even with a remote link to abortion.

A number of dioceses have adopted policies similar to New York’s, and the bishops of El Paso and Lexington, Ky., Have made vaccines mandatory for employees.

But other Catholic jurisdictions are more accommodating to exemptions. The Colorado Catholic Conference, the political arm of the state’s bishops, has posted a template letter for priests to sign online saying that an individual parishioner can rely on Catholic values ​​to oppose vaccines. The bishops of South Dakota have also taken this position.

A letter from the secretary would not necessarily be necessary for a person to obtain an exemption – federal law requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for “genuine” religious beliefs – although approval from the clergy may help strengthen the claim. of somebody.

Leaders of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America said Thursday that although some people may have medical reasons for not receiving the vaccine, “there is no exemption in the Orthodox Church for its faithful from any vaccination for religious reasons “.

Likewise, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America recently issued a statement encouraging the use of vaccines and stating that “there is no obvious basis for a religious exemption” in its own Lutheran tradition or in the Lutheran tradition. wider.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not provide religious exemptions for vaccines for members, according to church spokesperson Eric Hawkins. Leaders of the Utah-based faith have advocated for members to be vaccinated even though doctrine recognizes that it is up to the individual.

Some other religious groups, such as the Orthodox Union, an umbrella organization of Orthodox Judaism, and the United Methodist Church, have encouraged people to get vaccinated but have not issued policy statements on the exemptions.

The Fiqh Council of North America, made up of Islamic scholars, has advised Muslims to receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and debunk the “unfounded rumors and myths” about them.

Documents from the Associated Press were used in this report.

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