Defending the Religious Exemption to Vaccination
By: Barbara Loe Fisher
Editors Note: See all numbered references at base of article.
Every summer, Americans celebrate the 4th of July to mark the day in 1776 when the American colonies agreed they would no longer be ruled by an aristocracy. The Declaration of Independence begins with, “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” That Declaration was a rejection of oppression by a ruling aristocracy and the pledge that this country would uphold the unalienable natural right to life and liberty that belongs to every person.
240 years later, we find ourselves again fighting for freedom from oppression because we have allowed the rise of a new ruling aristocracy, an elitist class of privileged citizens who want the legal right to judge, shame, segregate, discriminate against and punish fellow citizens who do not share their beliefs. Nowhere is this truth more self evident than in the oppressive implementation of one-size-fits-all mandatory vaccination laws that fail to respect biodiversity or human rights and crush citizen opposition, in violation of the informed consent ethic and freedom of thought, speech, conscience and religious belief.1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25
When a ruling aristocracy uses the heel of the boot of the State to create fear and oppress average citizens for their beliefs, there is no other word for it but tyranny. The appropriation of unaccountable authority by medical trade and the militarization of public health in the 21st century should be of concern to every person who values life and liberty. 26 27 28 29
U.S. Supreme Court: Vaccines are “Unavoidably Unsafe”
In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed with what Congress said in 1986, and that is: government licensed vaccines are “unavoidably unsafe” and pharmaceutical corporations should not be liable for vaccine injuries and deaths. 30 31 Today, when your child dies or is permanently brain injured after vaccination or the vaccine fails to protect your child, you cannot hold the vaccine manufacturer or the doctor who gave the vaccine accountable in court in front of a jury of your peers.
With this free pass, in 2011 and 2012 the multi-billion dollar vaccine machine powered by medical trade, industry and government rolled into the legislatures of Washington, Vermont and other states with the goal of eliminating religious and conscience vaccine exemptions that have been in place in the U.S. for more than half a century. 32 NVIC has worked with families and other grassroots organizations to protect vaccine exemptions in 15 states but, in 2015, Vermont lost the conscience exemption and California lost the personal belief exemption protecting both exercise of conscience and religious beliefs. 33
Vaccine Machine Invades Virginia
This year, the vaccine machine invaded Virginia. A proposed law was introduced in the House of Delegates in January 2016 to strip away not just the religious vaccine exemption, but also the medical exemption for all children, whether they are being homeschooled or are enrolled in public or private schools. 34 An individual physician would no longer exercise professional judgment when granting a child a medical exemption but would become a government agent enforcing the narrow one-size-fits all federal vaccine contraindication guidelines 35 36 approved by the Centers for Disease Control, which means that 99.99 percent of children would not qualify for the medical vaccine exemption in Virginia. 37
Virginia families pushed back quickly and hard against the draconian bill that would make Virginia the state with the most oppressive forced vaccination law in the country. 38 Although the bill was temporarily withdrawn this year by the attorney lobbyist and obstetrician sponsoring it, 39 similar legislation is expected to be reintroduced in 2017 after a report is released by the Joint Commission on Healthcare this fall.
Virginia has a very tiny 1.1 percent vaccine exemption rate for kindergarten children, which is lower than the national vaccine exemption rate of 1.7 percent. In fact, Virginia ranks in the top 10 states with the lowest vaccine exemption rates. According to the CDC, only 305 kindergarten children in Virginia have a medical vaccine exemption and 891 children have a religious vaccine exemption. 40
So why has the vaccine machine attacked a state with one of the lowest vaccine exemption rates in the country to persecute 1200 kindergarten children and their parents?
Freedom of Conscience, Religion First Became Law in Virginia
For the answer, you have to look no further than the history of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the principles upon which the United States of America was founded. Virginia is the hallowed ground where freedom of thought, conscience and religion was first defined as a natural right and was codified into American law. Virginia is the place where George Mason and Thomas Jefferson wrote the Virginia Bill of Rights and the Virginia Act for Religious Freedom and where, over the years, the General Assembly has enacted the strongest religious freedom and parental rights legislation in the country.
The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution approved by Congress in 1789 says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
That First Amendment was based on the Virginia Bill of Rights adopted by the Virginia General Assembly before Congress approved the U.S. Constitution Bill of Rights.
Section 16 of the Virginia Constitution states that:
- “All men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience;” and
- “No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever,” and
- “The General Assembly shall not prescribe any religious test whatever” on citizens.
This means it is a violation of the Virginia Constitution to eliminate the legal right to exercise religious beliefs according to the dictates of conscience, or to force citizens to belong to an organized religion or a particular church in order to exercise conscience and religious beliefs.
Virginia’s 1786 Act for Religious Freedom
There is another law in Virginia that protects freedom of religion. Virginia’s Act for Religious Freedom was adopted by the Virginia Assembly in 1786, three years before the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution was approved.
This historic Act is very clear about what religious freedom means, stating in the first sentence that, “Almighty God hath created the mind free.”
Here Virginia law is saying that freedom of thought was given to mankind by God.
The Act goes on to say that, “All attempts to influence it by temporal punishments, or burdens, or by civil incapacitations… are a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion…”
Here Virginia law is saying that a human being has a natural right to freedom of thought, conscience and religious belief and must not becoerced or punished for exercising it.
The Act accurately points out that legislators and rulers are “fallible,” that they do not have the right to assume “dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavoring to impose them on others….”
Here Virginia law is emphasizing that human beings, including government officials, are not infallible and that religious faith is individual, a matter of conscience, and that legislators do not have the right to impose their ideology, opinions and beliefs on others.
Even more strongly, the Act states that, “our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.”
Here Virginia law is pointing out that individual opinions about math and science differ, just as opinions about religion differ, and an individual’s exercise of religious belief must not limit the individual’s exercise of civil rights.
Finally, in a ringing defense for freedom of thought and religious liberty, the Virginia Religious Freedom Act declares without qualification that, “No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities…..We are free to declare, and do declare, that the rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present, or to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural right.”
When Virginia law talks about natural rights, it is referring to what today are often described as human rights. Among the human rights recognized globally is the right to freedom of conscience and religion. Conscience can be defined as the part of your mind or an inner sense that tells you what is right or wrong and guides you to a morally right action.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted in 1948 after World War II states that, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”
When explaining religious freedom to his friends and colleagues, Thomas Jefferson said that freedom of religion belonged to, “the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mahometan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.” 41 Jefferson believed in a Creator but he did not identify with an organized religion nor was a member of a church, and his reference to “Infidel of every denomination” likely was an affirmation of freedom of thought, which also includes the freedom to be agnostic or an atheist and have no religious beliefs.
In other words, freedom of religion encompasses freedom of thought and conscience and applies to all personal beliefs about religion.
Additionally, the ethical principle of informed consent to medical risk taking has been defined as a human right since 1947. 42 43 44 Today, informed consent is globally recognized as central to the ethical practice of medicine.45 Informed consent means you have the right to be fully informed about the benefits and risks of a medical intervention, such as use of a pharmaceutical product like vaccines, and be free to make a voluntary decision without being coerced or punished by anyone for the decision you make.
Your human right to exercise informed consent to medical risk taking without being coerced or punished for the decision you make is very similar to the language in the Virginia Religious Freedom Act that protects citizens from being punished by government officials for exercising the natural right to freedom of conscience and religious belief.
Virginia Reaffirms Religious Freedom Act in 2007
In 2007, the Virginia Assembly reaffirmed the Religious Freedom Act of 1786 with a major caveat and that is, “No government entity shall substantially burden a person’s free exercise of religion… unless it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person is (1) essential to further a compelling governmental interest and (2) the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.”
This caveat sets an appropriately high bar for substantially restricting a person’s free exercise of religious belief. For example, if the state argues it has a compelling governmental interest to prevent an infectious disease epidemic, government officials must still demonstrate that mandatory vaccination laws are “essential” to achieve that goal, and then, further demonstrate that those laws are being implemented in “the least restrictive” way.
Vaccine Freedom of Choice: A Human Right
When we defend the natural right to exercise freedom of thought, conscience and religious belief, we are not called upon to talk about different scientific hypotheses explaining how and why vaccines can cause injury and death, or why the CDC is unaccountable and a whistleblower should be subpoenaed by Congress to testify about the risks of a particular vaccine. The arguments about vaccine science and who is right and who is wrong about it will be argued for the next century.
Our responsibility is to defend without compromise the human right to exercise freedom of thought, conscience and religious belief for ourselves and our minor children for whom we are legally responsible, without being discriminated against and punished with denial of education, health care, employment or other societal sanctions that violate our civil rights.
There are three general statements about vaccination in the U.S. that cannot be disputed, which are:
- Like prescription drugs, vaccines are pharmaceutical products that carry a risk of injury, death and failure. 46 47 48 49
- There are genetic, biological and environmental high risk factors that make some individuals more susceptible to vaccine reactions, but doctors cannot predict who will be harmed. 50
- The U.S. Congress and Supreme Court have declared government licensed and mandated vaccines to be “unavoidably unsafe” and more than $3 billion dollars in federal vaccine injury compensation has been awarded to children and adults under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986. 51
These three basic facts about vaccination affect your human right to exercise freedom of thought, conscience and religious belief:
Because vaccines can injure or kill and doctors cannot predict who will be harmed, and the U.S. government has acknowledged that fact and indemnified pharmaceutical corporations and doctors, while awarding financial compensation to children and adults who have been injured or died from government licensed vaccines, 52 you have the human right to exercise informed consent, freedom of conscience and religious belief when making a decision about vaccination for yourself or your minor child.
Judeo-Christian Tradition Affirming Duty to Follow Conscience
The medical practice of vaccination is only 220 years old and came thousands of years after the founding of the world’s major organized religions (Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism). There is no major religion with a written tenet opposing vaccination.
However, there is a strong Judeo-Christian tradition affirming the duty of those who believe in God to follow their conscience. If you are a Christian, you can find passages in the Bible, which affirm your beliefs as a Christian to follow your conscience and the guidance given to you by God through prayer. Prayer for guidance is central to many Protestant denominations. 53
For example, there is Timothy 1:5 – “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”
There is Proverbs 3:5 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
There is Colossians 2:8: “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”
There are many more Bible verses that affirm the need for Christians to have faith in God and be guided by scripture and follow their conscience.
Also, the definition of moral conscience is discussed in detail in the catechism of the Catholic Church, which holds that, “Conscience is a judgment of reason whereby the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act that he is going to perform, is in the process of performing or has already completed. In all he says and does, man is obliged to follow faithfully what he knows to be just and right. It is by the judgment of his conscience that man perceives and recognizes the prescription of the divine law.”
In even stronger terms, the Catholic Church warns that, “a human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself.”
If you are of Jewish faith, your foundation is the old testament of the Bible and the Torah, which emphasize that man is created in the image of God and that each individual human being has worth and a right to equal and loving treatment. Preservation of human life and reliance on God is central to the teachings of Judaism.
There is Psalm 146 – “Halleluyah! Praise HASHEM, O my Soul! I will praise HASHEM while I live, I will make music to my God while I exist. Do not rely on nobles, nor on a human being for he holds no salvation. When his spirit departs he returns to his earth, on that day his plans all perish. Praiseworthy is one whose help is Jacob’s God, whose hope is in HASHEM, his God. He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them, Who safeguards truth forever…”
Whatever your sincere religious beliefs, you do not have to be a member of an organized religion or church to hold them and defend your human right to exercise freedom of conscience. In America, you should not have to live in fear that you will be judged and punished for exercising freedom of thought, conscience and religious belief.
Assault on Cultural Values and Beliefs in America
Mandatory vaccination laws that violate human rights are the tip of the spear of the political assault on cultural values and beliefs in America, including freedom of conscience and religious belief. 54 This assault began in the 20th century with the tragically flawed 1905 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Jacobsen v. Massachusetts 55 56 that used the pagan ethic of utilitarianism 57 58 59 to devalue the life of the individual and endorse state forced vaccination. That morally corrupt legal decision served as the basis for another morally corrupt Supreme Court ruling in Buck v. Bell in 1927, when Virginia doctors were given the green light to sterilize Carrie Buck in an endorsement of state eugenics laws based on the cruel utilitarian “greater good” rationale. 60 61
The 1905 U.S. Supreme Court justices may have given state health officials the legal authority but they will never possess the moral authority to demand that individuals sacrifice their lives for what the State has defined as the “greater good.” Laws that fail to protect freedom of thought, conscience, religious belief and informed consent are a violation of human rights and the false ethic of utilitarianism should never be used to implement public health policy in America.
Virginians Ready to Defend Human and Civil Rights
The ruling aristocracy operating the vaccine machine has chosen Virginia as the battlefield to wage a war on religious liberty because they know that if freedom of thought, conscience and religion can be gutted in Virginia, it can be gutted anywhere.
The citizens of Virginia who understand what is at stake stand ready to defend human and civil rights on the hallowed ground where freedom of conscience was born in America.
Because the right of the State to tell us what to do to our bodies and the bodies of our children ends where our right to protect our lives and our children’s lives begins.
Because we believe that every life is important and we will not look the other way while those vulnerable to vaccine injury and death are being sacrificed in the name of the greater good.
Because when the State considers one of us to be expendable, then we are all considered expendable.
We are the daughters and sons of liberty. And we will defend freedom of thought and conscience and religion in this great country of ours because that is what it means to be an American.
Before it is too late, browse our site and go to NVICAdvocacy.org to learn how to become a vaccine freedom advocate in your state.
It’s your health. Your family. Your choice.
TLB Highly recommends you visit National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) for more pertinent articles and information.