There has obviously been much discussion about (covid) vaccine mandates in the US. From my limited reading on the matter, it sounds like the federal government has empowered employers to require employees to be vaccinated.

What is unclear to me is how religious exemptions would be handled. I'd guess that there must be state laws (Vermont, New Hampshire are the jurisdictions in question) that govern how exemptions are applied for, but I don't know where to look to learn the rules.

In specific, which religions oppose vaccination, and on what grounds?

I'm curious to learn in detail which biblical passages might be construed as opposing shots for certain Christian denominations, for example, but the answers need not be limited to Christianity.

  • Certain vaccines are developed using fetal cell lines harvested from babies that were aborted, and some vaccines even contain those cells. That is an issue for some observant Christians even though the cells were harvested a long time ago.
    – ColleenV
    Sep 23, 2021 at 17:23
  • I'd be interested to know the thinking behind the downvote, and how to improve the question.
    – nuggethead
    Sep 23, 2021 at 19:06
  • 5
    I’m voting to close this question because it is about religion doctrine, not the law or legal process.
    – user4657
    Sep 23, 2021 at 21:20
  • Thanks for the explanation, Nij. I understand the difference.
    – nuggethead
    Sep 23, 2021 at 22:46

1 Answer 1


Both Title VII of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (as amended), and the Americans with Disabilities Act(ADA) as amended, provide that employer mandates are subject to "reasonable accommodations" for "sincere religious beliefs". If any mandate was based on or subject to either of those laws, requests for accommodation would need to be addressed on a case-by-case basis. The belief does not have to be a tenant of any church or organized religious group, but may be purely individual.

State laws granting religious exemptions might also apply.

However, in Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158 (1944) the US Supreme court wrote:

Thus, he [a parent] cannot claim freedom from compulsory vaccination for the child more than for himself on religious grounds. The right to practice religion freely does not include liberty to expose the community or the child to communicable disease or the latter to ill health or death. People v. Pierson, 176 N.Y. 201, 68 N.E. 243.

Prince was a case of a child labor law (selling religious pamphlets in the streets) not an actual vaccination case, so the above statement was not strictly binding precedent. Whether it would now be considered good law I cannot say unless it coems up oin a current case.

To the best of my knowledge, no major religion or denomination objects to vaccines as such, although some do object to vaccines developed using fetal stem cells. I believe that at one time the Jehovah's Witnesses did so object (one of them was the appellant in Prince) but they no longer hold that view. At least some individuals have expressed such objections, but most expressed objections to vaccines or vaccine mandates have not been on religious grounds.

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