Do Vaccine Mandates Violate Religious Freedom? Rethinking the Religious

This article makes a lot of great points. For example:

Paul legitimizes observing holy days, abstaining from wine, and abstaining from meat offered to idols as matters of conscience (Romans 14; 1 Corinthians 8). He is clear, though, that none of these convictions is a tenet of the Christian faith. The Bible neither requires nor forbids these practices. A believer can change his mind on issues of conscience without losing or even changing his religion.

Here’s where he’s coming from:

For the sake of argument, I will assume that all vaccine mandates, whether issued by private employers or the civil realm, are unjust and that no Christian is morally obligated to comply with any of them. For our purposes, refusing mandatory vaccines and accepting the consequences is a viable option (I’ll touch on the roles of civil resistance and disobedience below). I also accept the theological premise that God assigns the primary responsibility of caring for a person’s health and well-being to the individual and the family.

Here’s another helpful paragraph:

For example, let’s apply this logic to taxation: “I am religiously obligated to provide for my family financially; I believe paying income tax would unduly imperil my financial health; therefore, on religious grounds I am exempt from income tax laws” (many frivolous tax arguments do in fact appeal to religious liberty).

Edit: HT to my dad who sent this to me.

12 Likes

I like Jeremy. CREC pastor and military chaplain, I believe. Glad his perspective is part of the conversation in the CREC.

2 Likes

I thought this was also good:

A failure to maintain this distinction can lead to an amped-up conscience in which virtually every deeply held personal conviction—whether ethical, political, medical, financial, dietary, or otherwise—becomes a matter of religious freedom and duty, dramatically raising the stakes of prudential disagreements within the church and society.

8 Likes

I found this article helpful as well.

I think more people - at least in my circles - are struggling more with employer mandates than government mandates. Any thoughts on that?

(My own company - a large national healthcare company - has issued a mandate requiring vaccination or termination by November 12. I’ve been able to line up some alternate work so I think I’ll be ok not getting the vaccine. Though my beef is not with the vaccine itself but with a “healthcare” company that mandates the exact same medical procedure for over 150,000 employees without regard to risk/benefit analysis or the patient/doctor relationship, both of which are foundational to medicine.)

The employer/employee relationship seems - to me - more like the slave/master relationship than the citizen/government relationship. (Does that make sense or am I way off?)

Further I would say that I’m supposed to submit to my master/employer (Titus 2:9), though it is OK for me to seek freedom from that master if I have the opportunity to do so (1 Cor 7:21).

Its still certainly an issue of conscience and not basic to Christianity.

For the record, the company offers an opportunity to apply for an exemption. Word on the street is that these exemptions are virtually impossible to attain. And in the application process you are forced to agree that termination following a rejected request for exemption is a “voluntary resignation.” For me, that was the final nail - they are firing me and forcing me to say I’m resigning. I can’t go along with that.

5 Likes

So sorry, Nathan. Love in our Lord,

1 Like

@CWD is Jeremy Sexton your pastor?

He is indeed.

2 Likes

I struggle with this. What I mean is that I don’t get how one can have deeply held personal convictions about some of these things apart from your religious beliefs. How does one have a deeply held conviction on ethics that is separate from your faith in Christ? I wouldn’t hold them if I didn’t think God required it of me. I get that there are personal preferences but that’s different then convictions.

The whole problem with conscience issues is that one person believes God requires it of them while the other doesn’t. It’s always easy for the one who doesn’t hold the conviction to dismiss the whole thing as separate from the faith. It’s another thing for the one who holds it to say it’s separate from the faith.

Therefore when I read an article like this, I assume this man doesn’t have a conviction on the vaccine and probably has taken it.

The real trick is having charity for those who have a conviction on masks or vaccines and for those who do to have charity on those who don’t.

1 Like

You’re combining choosing to take the vaccine with an absence of conviction (or perhaps a conviction). Maybe you don’t mean to. But those two aren’t the same.

I’m not sure that’s the whole problem. I think the problem is rather ‘that the one who believes God requires it of them’ thinks it in an arbitrary or absolute way that leaves no room for disagreement or theological instruction of the conscience. Conscience issues become binding not just on the person but also on the church family. Conscience issues grow beyond just the individual in their circles of ramifications. Masks become a conscience issue and there is no room for an eldership which disagrees on that issue. Conscience necessitates leaving the church…how is that right?

No one had a conscience issue over masks before Covid began, because masks weren’t an issue before Covid began. Charity works both ways, particularly with those who have decided to have conscience issues over masks doing so in a way that is not effectively binding on others’ consciences, especially when their voluntary choice to have a conscience issue becomes binding on their elders’ consciences.

Yes. I should have worded that differently. I mean I assume he doesn’t have a conviction against taking the vaccine.

I don’t think anyone should leave their church just because there are people who have a different view on the masks. I don’t know of anyone who has argued that. What I have seen is someone say that they would leave a church where they were required to wear a mask and there was no concern for that person’s conscience on the issue from the elders. That’s a completely different thing in my opinion.

I am just weary of the whole thing. I am satisfied by our statements adopted by Evangel Presbytery.

My concern with this article is simply that it seems to separate religion from the rest of life. I don’t know about anyone else but I hope that my deeply held convictions on any area of life are formed from my religion and if I had deeply held convictions that were contrary to or not in line with the law of God, I would want to bring them into conformity with His law.

1 Like

I don’t think anyone here is trying to separate religion from the rest of life but instead trying to clearly think through the issues so that we may honor God through our obedience with a proper understanding of what is commanded.

Let’s imagine the following scenario. Some Christians are meeting in a church for worship when the chemical plant in town explodes, spewing toxic smoke everywhere. It turns out that there is a box of excellent masks in the church basement (for planned repainting), with enough for everyone. After getting the masks on, the people go back upstairs to joyfully worship God in gratitude for His providential care. Would those who invoke conscience regarding masks in today’s COVID world remove their masks in the above scenario and breathe toxic smoke as they worship? If the answer is yes, then indeed, their conscience is bound regarding masks. But if no, then masks are not the real conscience issue.

3 Likes

But Pr. Joseph - all sorts of atheists have deeply held personal convictions that align in their barest expression and forms with Christian convictions.

The Christian apologist might argue that such an atheist is “inconsistent” or “self-contradictory” in his simultaneous convictions that there is no God and that murder is wrong. But, there he is, nevertheless - rock-hard convinced that the notion of a deity is flummery and an equally hard-hard conviction that murder is wrong.

A point of disclosure: I am “fully vaccinated.” All my physicians (Christian and otherwise) will likely insist I get the booster too. I will likely do t his.

Another disclosure: Reading the press (very widely; internationally) I know that getting any covid vaccine is a throw of the dice, one which others have thrown and who are now dead. The Taiwan press is now reporting that in Taiwan deaths immediately following vaccination now outnumber deaths from covid!

So, why did I throw those dice? Well, I face life-threatening health issues (diabetes; coronary heart disease; a rare, likely incurable cancer), so my “odds” of dying from a covid vaccine compared with these other threats is negligible. Moreover, all my children are serious Christians, fully enlisted in advancing our Lord’s kingdom, including the care of their mother until she departs this vale of tears.

So, for me any mandates from the civil magistrate amount to an irrelevancy.

At any rate, Pr. Joseph - I wonder if I still haven’t understood your question.

1 Like