Religious Exemption Certificates for Covid Vaccines

Yeah it really is not clear to me if these letters are useful. The CREC letter is one page long. No biblical citations and no confessional citations. A group like the Mennonites can point to church documents and official teaching in favor of pacifism. That’s the basis of CO status.

No Reformed church body I know of has that for vaccines. It’s a problem. I’m not saying I personally agree with people’s reasons for being exempted; my primary reason for helping them is to try to maintain peace in the church.

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I’ve made your arguments to men at church.

I’ll offer a pragmatic counter argument that I’ve had floating in my head. I offer it to put something on the board.

For 50 years, federal courts have maximized individual liberty over all other concerns, including health and safety. The equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment has become a buzzsaw that mows down state laws, ancient precedents and established norms. Legally, these decisions have a dubious basis at best. They are tyrannical. They call evil good and good evil.

When “conservative” jurists are nominated for federal courts, what do they always tell us? They tell us that these landmark decisions, including Anthony Kennedy’s famous “sweet meaning of life” passage from Planned Parenthood v. Casey–all of these revolutionary decisions that have established modern social liberalism are precedent and we can’t overturn them. Our society is progressing and the Constitution is a living document. Modern liberalism and personal autonomy are what we believe in now. It’s all part of David French’s “blessings of liberty.”

Liberals effectively get to hijack the Constitution and permanently reshape our society with no appeal, and the job of conservatives is to tell us to tip our hats to the new constitution. “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”

Well, if this is what it is, why shouldn’t Christian’s try to game the system to our advantage? Why not play by these rules? Why insist on an older constitutional and legal regime that effectively no longer exists? Why play by rules nobody else cares about? Why not highlight this obvious contradiction and just relentlessly press it? Make em take Roe v. Wade and eat it.

My body my choice? Well, take your vaccine and shove it, and I’ll have church when and where I want to, virus or no virus.

Some men just want to watch the world burn.

Revenge is a dish best served cold. If you can’t beat em, troll em. Meme them.

I have to admit this logic is very appealing to me. But I wonder if it should be.

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Sure, but why bring the church into this? Why not pursue this along entirely secular lines since it is not really stemming from religious convictions?


I agree with you in principle.

Evangel Presbytery is working on something related to vaccines. I’ll be interested to see it.

Could anyone provide some reading material for me to get acquainted to historic Reformed views concerning conscription? I guess all I am really familiar with is either anabaptist resistance to it, or modern evangelical patriotism that believes ‘Murica is the gospel. I’d love to read some more robust perspectives to bridge the gap. Thanks.

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I think more work needs to be done showing the philosophical connection between conscription and vaccine mandates. It’s not at all clear to me beyond ‘the government has authority to,’ and the legal framework behind and the situations necessitating the use of both conscription and vaccine mandates seem worlds apart on a number of levels to me.

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I was kind of rushed in the back and forth yesterday with Joel. Having a chance to think a little more, I think you could cite Deuteronomy 20 concerning exemptions from the draft, use the passage to build up a Christian case for the right of fearful Christians to refuse the draft. After that, make an analogy for the right of fearful Christians to refuse a vaccine.

I think the analogy would be a stretch. Scripture gives us the reason why the man who is afraid should be turned away Deut 20:8: "The officials shall continue to address the troops, saying, “Is anyone afraid or disheartened? He should go back to his house, or he might cause the heart of his comrades to melt like his own.”

The fearful or disheartened man is sent away because he may erode the fighting prowess of the other men; it is not a matter of justice toward the fearful man. I guess you could make a case that mandating a vaccine would make more people fearful or resentful which would cause social turmoil or something, but it would still be a prudence argument rather than a justice argument. It isn’t a case like Deut 24:17-18 where the reason for the command is God’s nature and Israel’s history.


I’m trying, man. I don’t envy the guys working on the Evangel Presbytery statement. Seems like no matter what you do, people will be mad.

here is apologia’s

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From the statement:

Christians therefore proclaim Christ’s Lordship over all realms, for, as He claimed, all authority has been given to Him in heaven and upon earth (Matthew 28:18). In light of His Kingship, we assert that men and women have the right to refuse mandatory medical procedures, actions, medications, or injections, whether these actions are ordered by the highest government authorities, or lesser authorities, such as an employer or local magistrate.

How does Christ’s Kingship relate to refusal of authorities?

Romans 13:1–2:

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

I can’t see any possible application of this scripture within the doctrinal framework of the statement.


It seems to me that the second part of this statement is in some ways a denial of the first part. Christ’s authority on earth is exercised IN the men he has set up as authorities. This statement says basically that because Christ is Lord of all we can all decide for ourselves what we should or shouldn’t do. Or in other words anarchy. Which is antithetical to Christ’s government.


Listening to Reformed men and reading their statements in this Covid time is principally interesting in the show it’s putting on of the hatred of authority which is as bad inside as outside the church. We have fallen to the level of asserting the Lordship of Jesus Christ as justification for each man doing that which is right in his own eyes, as pointed out above. Son Joseph made an astute observation over a year ago after noting how common it had become for conservative reformed types to profess some brand of libertarianism and thus to be sympathetic to the defunding of law enforcement called for then by BLM. He said such men were “voluntarists,” and that has stuck in my head ever since, Spot on, I think.

It’s not at all that there aren’t good reasons for Christians to beg off the public health mania, and that in a number of specific areas, including vaccination. But the way men are making this assertion is often embarrassing. They speak categorically in their assertions of this being a matter of religious liberty, but they fail to make any significant arguments to support their declarations. They’re simply categorical assertions, and unsustainable except in our present post-President Trump Covid hothouse. Been reading church fathers on related matters and nothing in the past bears any resemblance to the declarations we’re seen thus far.



Apologia need a healthy dose of Bannerman’s sphere sovereignty. This statement is embarrassing.

There is no consistent reason that the rationale this statement uses couldn’t also be used to refuse following: tax law, gun ownership laws, property and building codes, citizenship and entry laws…this isn’t a medical exemption, it’s an opt-out from any law with which I disagree.


Apologia’s statement says “In light of His Kingship, we assert that men and women have the right to refuse mandatory medical procedures, actions, medications, or injections, whether these actions are ordered by the highest government authorities, or lesser authorities, such as an employer or local magistrate.”

Under this assertion, the individual has veto power over the state with regards to health/medical mandates. In the next sentence, they transition to examples of when an individual might exercise this power, but it’s an example and not a limiting statement. An individual may do this “when they are convinced” of these certain things. Not even that an individual may only do this if they are convinced of such a risk to life/fertility/wellbeing.

Doug Wilson wrote in Rules for Reformers:

Now it is quite true that we cannot have absolute faith in the people, for that would be idolatry (not to mention dumb). But we have no problem incorporating strong democratic elements in our vision of an ideal polity. There are reasons for this.
C.S. Lewis once said there were two basic approaches to democracy. One is idolatrous, and the other reflects a more biblical view of man. The first is the assumption that every last man’s opinion is so valuable that we should do our level best to get his input before we do anything. This is the idolatrous option.
The other acknowledges the sinfulness of man, such that it is unwise to concentrate too much power in any one spot.

How is this anything more than the Lewis/Wilson warned idolatry of the individual?


Also interesting that Apologia says it is the “parents” who have the right / responsibility to make the decisions for their children “without external interference.” What happens if the parents disagree with each other? Who mediates?

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That line about “without external influence” stuck out to me, also. I don’t think that’s ever possible or even desirable.

I think it’s helpful to remember the distinction between “sphere authority” and “sphere sovereignty.” I think “sphere authority” is the right way to speak about the sphere’s because you have different authorities who have to work together. They overlap at times and have to come to consensus. But talking about “sphere sovereignty” gives the impression that each sphere is an island that is never accountable to the other spheres. But that’s just not true.


Just curious, is that a technical distinction or are you making that distinction? I’ve not read Kuyper or other more significant voices in the field. Bannerman is my main source of input (and I can’t remember whether he uses these precise terms).

What happens if the child disagrees with the parents? Are parents among those “lesser authorities” that believers are exempt from obeying, according to this rationale? Is there a parental opt-out form, or do we use different weights and measures?


Correction: it says “interference” not “influence.” Still, the “interference” of pastors in warning people against unwise decisions, for example, comes to mind.