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.


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


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.


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.


So sorry, Nathan. Love in our Lord,

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@CWD is Jeremy Sexton your pastor?

He is indeed.


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.

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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.

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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.


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.


I’m reading through Richard Baxter’s Christian Directory. Though he was very wrong on certain aspects of his theology, his pastoral sensibilities are second to none in the Puritan time.

This morning while reading I came across this passage in his treatment of Christian ethics that I thought was helpful to the discussion here.

‘Make not your own judgments or consciences your law, or the maker of your duty; which is but the discerning of the law of God, and of the duty which he maketh you, and of your own obedience or disobedience to him. - There is a dangerous error grown too common in the world, that a man is bound to do every thing which his conscience telleth him is the will of God; and that every man must obey his conscience, as if it were the lawgiver of the world; whereas indeed, it is not ourselves, but God, that is our lawgiver. And conscience is not appointed or authorised to make us any duty, which God hath not made us; but only to discern the law of God, and call us to observe it: and an erring conscience is not to be obeyed, but to be better informed, and brought to a righter performance of its office.’ The Christian Directory, in The Practical Works of Richard Baxter, vol. 1, p. 115-116.


I haven’t read it, and should. When my brother, Nathan, died as a pastor in his forties, I inherited his huge thick volume of Baxter’s Christian Directory with scads of bookmarks sticking out of the top. Great quote. Love,

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To the extent that preserving life is a religious conviction, I think we shouldn’t dismiss concerns of those that might experience severe side effects. According to Harvard Medical school the risk of hospitalization from COVID-19 Vaccine-induced myocarditis is actually greater than the risk of being hospitalized for COVID-19, specifically for young adult males.

I pdf’d the article before it disappears.

Young men and boosters- more harm than good? | Facebook Bulletin.pdf (853.6 KB)

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First, note that the article is about boosters as opposed to initial vaccinations.

However, I heard from Joe Rogan (don’t ask) that the risk is greater for boys getting vaccinated ending up hospitalized than the risk of them being hospitalized from just getting Covid. If this is true (I haven’t bothered to look it up yet), then the vaccine should not be approved for boys.

Anyway, here’s the thing. The risk is so small from the vaccines that it’s not a question of murder. It is not needless risk of life if you drive to the store needlessly, though there is a statistical chance you could die. At some point we cross a line below which risk doesn’t matter. Until it does because you drew the short straw one day. But even when it does, it’s not a question of having violated the 6th commandment.

This is not to dismiss the concern of anybody about the safety or risk. How much risk you are willing to accept is indeed your decision, even if you do nonsensical things like try to avoid dying in a car crash by selling your car and buying a motorcycle. Should that decision of yours be protected? Yes. But should it be protected by religious freedom? No.

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Read it closely much of the discussion is about events after the second dose. Not just the booster. Also consider the report that the vaccine losses much its effectiveness within four months.

It’s obvious that there are more risks than what is being disclosed. It’s unconscionable.


If, even on the surface, we were to evaluate the sum of the risks related to the COVID-causing pathogen and compare them to the sum of the risks from what has taken place over almost two years to purportedly address them, which set would be the most realistically capable of harmful effects on the society? To say, “The cure can’t be worse than the disease,” is true. I think it’s a laughably (or mourning-inducingly) understated evaluation at this point.

Also very true.
But when all other avenues of protection are being swiftly removed with the indicators of all avenues of protection being under heavy and intentional assault, the very logical tendency is to seek sanctuary with a mindset of religious concern.
The other very logical tendency is to think something is definitely up.

And that’s just on the surface.

@jtbayly read the article, it’s probably the source for Joe Rogan’s statement. The risk of hospitalization from the vaccine is definitely higher than the risk of hospitalization from the actual disease for all young adult males up to and possibly older than 39 years old. It’s not just boys. It’s adults.

To be clear, I am very concerned about the dismissiveness of this issue, on the basis that you think it’s not a religious matter. But there is no doubting that it is an ethical matter, and therefore must also be religious. Just like it was for Terry Shaivo, so it is for every American being force into something that may either cause them life long harm or possibly death.

I’m also reminded of Tuskegee Syphilis Study. Is there nothing theological to be understood about that horror of American Medical History.

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I’m looking forward to reading it.

There’s a difference between forcing some people to do something vs those people deciding to just go along with it rather than fight it. That’s what I’m trying to get at. It is not murder to have your son get the vaccine, even if he dies. It is murder to deprive your wife of water.

We must not confuse those two things. One is forbidden to Christians, while the other isn’t.