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Letter: Religious exemption makes for a poor excuse

Letter: Religious exemption makes for a poor excuse

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While we await the eventual verdict of a Supreme Court packed with right-wing ideologues, lower courts alternately defend and set aside the so-called “religious exemption” to vaccination and mask mandates. It’s a battle between indefensible selfishness under the guise of First Amendment rights, and reason and common courtesy.

The pertinent passage in the First Amendment to the Constitution reads “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;…” That’s it. And the reason for its inclusion in the first place was because many of our first colonists had been the victims of state religions in the European countries they fled; many of them emigrated specifically for religious freedom.

But somehow over the years “religious freedom” has become a shield for pseudo-Christians who try to impose their religious beliefs on the rest of us. They claim without basis that this is a “Christian nation.” The people who wrote and signed the Constitution would be horrified that such a preposterous contention should appeal to so many of us, and that “religious exemptions” could even be considered in our courts as a valid defense for anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers. Even the current acolytes on the Supreme Court of former Justice Antonin Scalia can not defend this notion with a straight face to anyone over the age of three.

It is long past time (44,000,000 cases and 716,000 deaths so far from Covid-19) that we have mask and vaccine mandates everywhere in this country. Those who hide behind “religious exemptions” to express their ignorance and selfishness should understand that the rest of us are not buying their charade. Stop pretending that the First Amendment was designed to protect people like you, rather than protect the entire nation from people like you.

John Nelson


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