Washington State’s Ludicrous Attempt to Suppress Religious Exemptions

Sep 2, 2021

Liberty Counsel sent a demand letter to Governor Jay Inslee, Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Department of Health Secretary Dr. Umair A. Shah, Department of Transportation Secretary Roger Millar, and Department of Social and Health Services Don Clintsman regarding the unlawful attempt to suppress religious exemptions and accommodations from Washington state’s COVID shot mandate. 

Washington doctors, nurses, medical professionals, home health facilities and providers, and other health care workers, public and private school employees have been forced by Governor Inslee’s recent August 18, 2021 “Proclamation Religious Exemption and Accommodations from Mandatory Covid-19 Vaccine Policy” to choose between the exercise of their sincerely held religious beliefs and their jobs. 

Governor Inslee has ordered all state and health care employees, K-12 and higher-education workers to prove by October 18 that they are fully vaccinated, or to obtain a valid religious or medical exemption. Those who refuse face firing. However, the “Religious Exemption Request Form” states that employees must affirm that they “have never received a vaccine or medicine from a health care provider as an adult.” 

Therefore, employees in the state could be denied a religious exemption if they have ever received a vaccine, other medical treatments or taken any other medicine. No individual in Washington should be forced into such an unconscionable decision.

State officials cannot override federal law or the federal Constitution. All state and health care workers are protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act that does provide for religious exemptions and accommodations and mandates that employers provide them. Furthermore, COVID shots cannot be mandatory under Title VII. In general, employee vaccine religious exemption requests must be accommodated, where a reasonable accommodation exists without undue hardship to the employer, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Many people hold sincere religious beliefs against taking any vaccines, or taking those derived from aborted fetal cell lines, or taking those sold by companies that profit from the sale of vaccines and other products derived from abortion. 

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “Governor Inslee must abide by federal law and provide protections to employees who have sincerely held religious objections to the COVID shots. Gov. Inslee cannot discriminate against individuals’ sincerely held religious beliefs by forcing them to inject an experimental substance. His policy is ludicrous.” 

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