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The Editorial Board: Vaccine appeal is necessary as judge buys phony religious claim that even churches reject

The Editorial Board: Vaccine appeal is necessary as judge buys phony religious claim that even churches reject

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A health care worker holds a vial of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine in Miami. Gov. Kathy Hochul is right to appeal a federal judge's decision supporting a religious exemption for New York health care workers.

The federal judge who upheld the unwarranted and much abused religious exemption for avoiding a Covid vaccination observed in his ruling Tuesday that because of the nature of the issues – religion and public health – “an appeal may very well be appropriate.”

No kidding. An appeal is not only appropriate, it is urgent. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who implemented the mandate for health care workers shortly after taking office, said one is coming.

“My responsibility as governor is to protect the people of this state, and requiring health care workers to get vaccinated accomplishes that,’’ she said in a statement Tuesday.

She is right. And as most religions note – with Pope Francis in the lead – there is no religious reason for refusing a vaccination. It’s simply an excuse that drags the First Amendment into an issue where it doesn’t belong. Indeed, those practicing that charade can be fairly accused of seeking a sacrilegious exemption.

We know two important facts about vaccines, mandates and exemptions.

• Mandates work. Look at the spike in vaccinations following Hochul’s mandate and others, including one restricting entrance to Highmark Stadium as Bills fever is spiking. Those requirements got people over a mental hump, making health care and football crowds safer.

• No religious exemption is allowed for school vaccinations. They were once permitted – and also abused – but the state abolished them in 2019 without significant controversy. As a result, schools are safer.

Somehow, though, U.S. District Court Judge David Hurd found that the anonymous plaintiffs were being denied a fundamental right that even churches don’t acknowledge.

Interestingly, state judges in California and Indiana have ruled in recent years against churches that claimed a religious exemption for their “sacrament” – marijuana. As FindLaw reported, “The First Church of Cannabis in Indiana saw their lawsuit go up in smoke.” This one should have, too.

In none of these matters is a religious component remotely involved. But instead of acknowledging that, Hurd accepted the plaintiff’s unreasonable claim that they “will suffer irreparable harm” if they were required to vaccinate.

They have it wrong. Irreparable harm – to themselves and society – is more likely to come from failure to vaccinate.

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