A small collection of California churches have decided to start offering religious exemptions to those who do not want to receive the vaccine.
Last week, Pastor Gregg Fairrington of Destiny Christian Church in Rocklin, CA, told his congregation that he would offer his parishioners religious exemption forms regarding the vaccine if they desired it. Fairrington described the decision as being "Pro-freedom, not anti-vaccine" and that hundreds of locals had approached him due to their feeling morally compromised over the vaccine.
Fairrington was not the only one to make such an offering to his congregation. The Family Church, located in Roseville, had made similar offerings, even offering to write notes expressing their reason for not being vaccinated. Oliver told CBS13 that his congregation "want the right to be able to choose what they are going to put into their body."
What remains uncertain is if these vaccines would have a meaningful impact. California law states that employers can require their staff to take the vaccination if they make reasonable accommodations for religious beliefs. These can include requiring the wearing of masks or similar practices. In the cases of Fairrington and Olivera, it remains unclear if they will work long-term. Local labor attorney Mark Spring told CBS13 that the effects would be limited. "That you can simply say 'I'm morally compromised,' or 'I don't want to take the vaccine' and they are going to hand you some form, that would not qualify in my view if challenged or tested by employer or government agency," Spring anticipates seeing similar documents more in the future.
USA Today reports that religious exemption requests have begun to spring up across the United States, particularly in conservative states.
Fairrington made news earlier this month when he encouraged his congregation to vote CA Governor Gavin Newsom out of office in the upcoming recall election, thus breaching modern tax laws restricting churches from advocating for specific candidates.