Times of crisis demand that all community leaders—religious, secular, and governmental—work together to find solutions. Through our national network we regularly witness the critical role that faith communities playing in the ongoing pandemic response, including acting as trusted sources of information on vaccines. On October 26, 2021, the House Education and Labor Committee held a joint subcommittee meeting entitled “Protecting Lives and Livelihoods: Vaccine Requirements and Employee Accommodations.” Interfaith Alliance offered written testimony on the overwhelming support for COVID-19 vaccination among people of faith. Here are the key takeaways:
- Every major religious denomination in the United States has stated their support for COVID-19 vaccinations, with some instituting requirements for their own staff and others issuing doctrinal determinations that there is no support for a religious exemption within their tradition.
- Across faiths and philosophies, we are united by a shared obligation to care for one another. Despite small groups and individuals seeking religious exemptions from public health measures, religious denominations and people of faith are overwhelmingly supportive of vaccines and continue to report increased vaccine acceptance.
- The freedom to believe as we choose (about medical decision-making and all other matters of conscience) is protected under the First Amendment. The ability to exercise those beliefs in ways that harm others is neither protected nor warranted.
- Current civil rights law requires accommodations for people of faith, those with disabilities, and others wherever possible. Overly broad religious exemptions to vaccine requirements are unnecessary and would further endanger our communities.
Read our full statement. A recording of the hearing, hosted by the Workplace Protections and the Civil Rights and Human Services Subcommittees, is available here.