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State Regulation Eliminating Religious Exemptions Upheld by Court

March 16th, 2022

A vaccine requirement for healthcare workers in Maine was allowed to go into effect after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene.
A federal court dismissed a lawsuit filed against a new Connecticut law that bans religious exemptions for school vaccine requirements.

A court recently ruled in favor of a state regulation that removes religious exemptions for students of both private and public schools when it comes to state vaccine requirements involving communicable diseases like COVID-19.

The New Regulation on Religious Exemptions

The new regulation requires immunizations for all children before school enrollment. Before 2021, students could pursue medical or religious exemptions from this regulation. The new regulation removed religious exemptions but grandfathered students between K to 12 who had already received exemptions. 

The governor of Connecticut signed the regulation in late April of last year. The governor stated that a great amount of caution should be exercised when it comes to children’s safety. Legislation is necessary to protect children against serious illnesses that were well-managed for several decades, the governor argued. The governor also emphasizes that the law does not remove the choice that parents have to make medical decisions for their children. The governor also stated that if parents decide that children should not receive vaccinations, the measures help to make sure that children, as well as their families, are not exposed to deadly diseases at school. 

The Basis of the Lawsuit

The organizations CT Freedom Alliance and We the Patriots USA joined several parents with varied religious views in a lawsuit against various state agencies as well as school boards. The lawsuit attempted to prohibit the law’s enforcement. The organizations as well as the parents argued that this new regulation violates various constitutional rights including the right to exercise one’s religious rights as well as raise children.

The Judge’s Decision

The judge for the federal court dismissed the lawsuit in full and states that the state departments have immunity from lawsuits. The judge also stated that the two groups do not have the standing to pursue legal action because the organizations cannot show they were specifically harmed due to the law. Additionally, the judge argues that the parent’s claim fails because the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled in favor of mandatory vaccine regulations in a public health crisis and that the new regulation is constitutional. The judge found that because the law is of general applicability it is rationally connected to a legitimate state purpose. 

Opposing Viewpoints

The state’s attorney general has stated that vaccine state laws are vital for protecting public health. The attorney general argued that the plaintiffs simply raised various claims brought against states and that every count was dismissed. 

The parents claim that vaccines include cell lines that come from aborted fetal cells and that injecting these cells would constitute what one parent described as involvement in an intentional and premeditated murder. The parents additionally claim that the vaccine includes animal derivatives. One parent states that she was prohibited from her religion from consuming pork and another stated that she is raising her children as vegans for religious reasons.

The Goal of the Universal Life Church’s Blog

While many religious rights have existed unchanged in the United States for hundreds of years, each year countless cases test the boundary of these rights. Most recently, religious rights have been tested in the context of COVID-19 mandates. The Universal Life Church’s blog focuses on documenting these cases in a way that can be easily understood by readers and which objectively examines both sides of an argument.

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