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February 10, 2022

New York Revoked Religious Exemptions for Vaccinations … Parents Take the State To Court

In 2019, New York repealed a law that provided a religious exemption for otherwise mandatory school vaccinations. Parents have now asked the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in.

Epoch News has more:

Although the state of New York requires children to be vaccinated against communicable diseases, such as hepatitis B, measles, and polio, as a condition of attending public or private school, the state had recognized both medical and religious exemptions to this requirement since 1966. But in June 2019, state lawmakers repealed the religious exemption, leaving the medical exemption in place. Existing state rules don't require students older than 18 or any other adult in the school environment to be vaccinated.

The petitioners in the case are "parents from throughout New York, who have not vaccinated their children because of their sincerely-held religious beliefs," according to the petition.

In the past, the parents had sought and been granted religious exemptions—and getting the exemption "has hardly been a rubber stamp process in New York, and many school districts, such as New York City schools, rejected the overwhelming majority of applications."

"There is no doubt that vaccines are tremendously important to our country," the petition reads. "Most people believe in vaccines and take them without a second thought. We do not pretend otherwise. But equally important to our country is the foundational principle that one's sincerely-held religious beliefs ought [to] be respected. So vital is this principle, it is enshrined in our Constitution.


The parents lost their challenge in the trial court and two appellate courts, and now the nine Justices of the Supreme Court will determine the outcome. The Court has asked the state to reply by February 14.

Religious freedom has long been understood to be foundational to a free society. America's founders recognized the fundamental importance of religious freedom as an inalienable right from God, and enshrined its protection in the First Amendment. All the other enumerated rights flow from that fundamental freedom.

When a government invades this arena, it demonstrates it will not hesitate to restrict other freedoms. Accordingly, we must not compromise this most sacred, God-given right. We the people must demand that our government officials aggressively safeguard religious freedom for all its citizens.

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