Who are the religious exemptions for? Experts say it’s complicated
EUGENE, Oregon – More workplaces across Oregon are adopting vaccination requirements while leaving room for religious exemptions, but experts say this is complicated by the fact that no recognized world religion is explicitly prohibits vaccination.
According to Courtney Campbell, professor of religion and culture at Oregon State University, when faced with the question of whether or not their religion forbids them to be vaccinated or not, practitioners of all faiths around the world who answer honestly should answer “no. “.
“Religious freedom becomes a kind of pretext for reasons of denial or request for exemption that are not of a religious nature,” Campbell said.
Political, scientific and religious worldviews can often coexist in a gray area where the lines between religion and personal ideology become tangled. According to Campbell, this is why institutions like the OSU and the State of Oregon also allow philosophical exemptions.
Campbell prefers educational approaches to increasing immunization rates over warrants, but with requirements already in place, he believes a sense of personal responsibility and care for the community should go hand in hand with the use of an exemption.
“Religion should not be a license allowing complete freedom of choice regardless of the consequences for others,” he said.
This is why Oregon’s representative for Christian Science, Karla Hackney, reports that many Christian Scientists have chosen to vaccinate.
“Many Christian scientists have been vaccinated so that they can honor their family’s wishes or respect their work environment,” she said.
Christian Scientists believe in spiritual healing and prefer to use prayer over medicine, but are still allowed to seek traditional health care at their own discretion. Religion also emphasizes love of neighbor, Hackney said, a principle particularly relevant during the pandemic.
“We are not really anti-vaccines. We are not pro-vax. There is a third option for the cure,” she said. “We have tried to respect and reassure our non-Christian scientific neighbors that we are in the same boat with them.”
Although many have been vaccinated, Hackney said those who have chosen not to be vaccinated can only apply for accommodation at their workplace as it would be spurious to take advantage of most religious exemptions.
“Usually the first question is, ‘Does your religion forbid you to vaccinate? “And honestly, Christian Science doesn’t,” she said.