Thursday, August 29, 2019

What's Wrong with Religious Exemption?

Trigger warning:
My article below challenges the prevalent assumption that the state may mandate vaccination. I am NOT anti-vax, but just anti-coercion and pro-bodily-autonomy. If you find this view offensive or disturbing and would like to continue living in blissful ignorance while the very underpinnings of free society are under attack, then please don't read this:

What's Wrong with Religious "Exemption?"
Mandatory Vaccination and the Nuremburg Code

Part I:

There's something deeply troubling about the whole debate over "religious exemption" from mandatory vaccination.

It avoids the real elephant in the room.

Who granted the government the authority to mandate vaccination in the first place?

What happened to bodily autonomy?

Some point to the fact that the state doesn’t coerce anyone to vaccinate, and as such, doesn’t technically violate anyone’s autonomy.

Of course, this is a specious argument. Mandatory vaccination effectively bars a child from school. Depriving a child of an education is coercive. Education is a right, not a privilege.

For a working single mother, homeschooling is simply not an option. For many couples who both work, staying home to homeschool children condemns their family to indigence. This “non-compulsory” law forces them to choose between vaccination and poverty.

How can free society tolerate such cruel and intolerant policy?

Some folks argue that personal freedoms must be restricted (read: violated) when there's a public safety risk.

Their reasoning: measles can be deadly, and an unvaccinated child is at greater risk to contracting the dreaded disease and spreading it further to others. Since this child arguably poses a risk to the community, they argue, he may be barred from the public whose safety we are trying to safeguard.

The problem is that infringing in individual’s rights in the name of public welfare is risky business. We’re treading on thin ice, constitutionally-speaking.

Let’s first assess the actual risk that this one child poses. She is presently healthy, indistinguishable from a vaccinated child. The fear is that there is a higher statistical possibility that she may contract an infectious disease.

This reasoning might also lead us to conclude that children from ethnicities who have higher incidents of juvenile delinquency may be barred from society too. After all, a student from such ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds surely increases the statistical risk for school violence.

Muslim children may be barred from schools too, since they are certainly at higher risk of radicalization and jihadism.

Where do we draw the line?

Is the threat of measles more lethal than that of school shootings or suicide bombings?

Nevertheless, irrational fear of disease seems to provide excuse to curtail individual freedoms more so than other security or safety concerns.

The loudest voices in our society justify the banning of the unvaccinated due to public safety risk.

Public health outweighs an individual’s rights, they argue.

I'd assume these same people enthusiastically support the NSA recording our conversations and so-called concentration camps at the border, both of which supposedly exist to protect the public.

However, that's not the case. These same outspoken proponents of mandatory vaccination are oddly silent when it comes to the state suspending other civil liberties.

Instead, they often protest these government abuses, yet nod in approval when unvaccinated children are barred from school. 

[Even more inexplicably, they'll clamor for the rights of unvaccinated migrants (and their unimpeded integration into American society) yet advocate sequestering unvaccinated children of U.S. citizens.]

So I ask them: why do you believe individuals are any less entitled to medical freedom than they are freedom of mobility, speech, or expression?

You'll fight for a woman's right to wear hijabs, in spite of conceivable possibility that she's hiding a weapon underneath, but have no qualms forcing her to submit to bodily injection in the name of preventing potential harm to the public!

You deplore "apartheid” policies that exclude Arabs from crossing a border to mitigate security risks, but cheer when unvaccinated children are shunned from the public, banned from school, treated like pariahs and untouchables... all because they supposedly pose a public health risk!

I’ll be the simple son and ask the obvious question: why is this apartheid different from all other apartheids?

When NYC fines people for not complying with mandatory MMR, you cite increased risk of measles from unvaccinated population.  Yet you'd deplore racial profiling or biased attitude towards any minority group, even if there were indeed increased risk of violent offenders coming from that particular minority population.

You have zero tolerance for bias against LGBTQ people but plenty of tolerance for bias against unvaccinated people.

You’ll champion a woman's inviolable right to consent yet turn a blind eye when teen-age girls are penetrated with an intravenous needle under duress! Poked and force-injected with someone else's bodily fluid (i.e. that of aborted babies, not to mention monkeys and other mammals)!

You’ll stand up for a woman’s choice to kill her 9-month-old fetus but reject her choice to decline the Hepatitis-B vaccine for that same baby one day later!

Why the double standards?

Why are you okay with infringing on individual's civil liberties only with regards to vaccines?

Who gave the state exclusive rights to our bloodstreams!?

It’s irrelevant that there’s a vaccinating majority. Since when do we condone dictatorship of the majority? 

We simply cannot tolerate such egregious violations of individual citizens’ rights. There's too much at stake.

Bodily autonomy is sacrosanct. An individual's right to medical choice is inviolable.

This is the USA, land of the free!

Not only may we not force-vaccinate anyone, neither may we ostracize them for not being vaccinated.

That’s Jim Crow laws revisited.

We may not bar children from schools. It's no different than barring African Americans from schools for phony excuse of "keeping the neighborhood safe."

Unvaccinated children are just as human as your own, and they are entitled to an education!

A school that will not accommodate all healthy children should not be allowed to accommodate any children. 

There can be no tolerance for such discriminatory policies in free society.  

So that brings me back to my problem with "religious exemption."

Why does anyone need an "exemption" in the first place?

Any person should be fully entitled to decline ANY medical procedure, no questions asked.

The state may enforce seatbelts, motor-vehicle or aviation safety, consumer protection, etc., but they may not force-medicate healthy individuals. That’s a red line that must never be crossed.

Part II:

Years ago, while we weren't paying attention, the government insidiously usurped our freedoms by enforcing mandatory vaccination policy, while tossing us a conciliatory doggy bone, so-called "religious exemption." That enabled individuals to decline, but for specifically-religious reasons only.  

Shockingly, “non-religious” individuals were never afforded such a “privilege.” Moreover, an individual could only cite uniquely-religious reasons, and was often harassed by his own coreligionists who disputed his right to his own religious beliefs!

Fast-forward to the present. Now we have an outrageous situation in which self-proclaimed religious experts ridiculously profess expertise on every known religion on earth. These so-called spiritual leaders claim that there are no valid religious reasons for declining vaccination ever.

New York state legislators were only too eager to follow suit and eliminated religious exemption altogether, banning some 35,000+ children from school in one fell swoop.

What is the reaction from the freedom-loving people of New York State?

Silence, complacence, and indifference.

Shameful, appalling and deplorable.

Truth is, however, that the population has been unsuspectingly indoctrinated over the course of many years, ever since mandatory vaccination was introduced, even throughout the time that religious exemption had been honored.

Zealous efforts to ensure “herd immunity” have led to “herd thinking.” No one is permitted to question the state-imposed vaccination paradigm. My goodness, independent thinking is viewed as a “public health risk” and suppressed! Anyone who questions the state’s mandate to vaccinate the population is roundly tarred and feathered in the name of “protecting public health.”

Despite their best of intentions, the champions of “public health” have sadly trampled our First Amendment rights in the process.

My friends, it’s time to take back the narrative and reclaim our autonomy.

Your body belongs to you and you alone. No one may dictate what you inject into yourself.

Doctors may encourage vaccination, and surely you ought to consider their advice and possibly comply, but that is YOUR decision and no one else’s.

Yes, it’s possible that if the unvaccinated population increases, some diseases might return.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do about that, short of vaccinating ourselves and your children.

We may NOT vaccinate other people’s children.

If we allow that, then we are no longer a free country, but a police state.

We will have lost everything.

As Patrick Henry famously cried, “Give me liberty or give me death.”
Is measles worse than death?

(Parenthetically, has there been even one death in the recent measles outbreak in the US? 1,203 cases so far this year, but not a single fatality. Please remind me why measles is so dreaded...)

I’d rather deal with measles than with a dystopian police state, the risk we take if we don’t stymie the government’s efforts to restrict our free choice and bodily autonomy.

Let’s review the opening lines of the Nuremburg Code:

The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential.
This means that the person involved should have legal capacity to give consent; should be so situated as to be able to exercise free power of choice, without the intervention of any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, over-reaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion; and should have sufficient knowledge and comprehension of the elements of the subject matter involved, as to enable him to make an understanding and enlightened decision.

Vaccination ought to be a matter of “enlightened decision,” not a “forced” decision made “under duress” by “overreaching” government. Barring children from school amounts to coercion and cannot be tolerated.

Let’s all wake up now before it’s too late.

Yes, religious freedom is under attack in the Empire State and throughout the country.

Under the law, religion is defined as “personal, strongly held beliefs,” not necessarily related to organized religion.

It’s no coincidence that our founding fathers enshrined it in the very first amendment.

When government attempts to tamper with it, all freedom is lost. It is the beginning and end to our cherished liberties, and we cannot afford to lose it.

We already began to forfeit our freedoms when we tolerated state-imposed mandatory vaccine schedule.

Religious freedom is our last stand, so to say.

It’s time for every freedom-loving citizen to stand up to defend it, irrespective of one’s opinions on vaccines.

This is not about vaccines. It’s about preserving the essence of who we are as a nation.

G-d bless America, and G-d bless our freedoms.


Anonymous said...

Excellent! All your points make a lot of sense! Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this. Hearing my fellow Jews pushing for laws that violate the Nuremberg Code is disturbing, to say the least. Where there is risk there must be choice.

Unknown said...


moishe said...

The whole argument , to protect the other kids is phony !. How is an unvaxed kid more risk than a kidwho issick with Hep_b , whom the law allows to attend school.

Admin said...

Thank you for saying what needs to be said.

Rad dad said...

I find it funny how they sneek in political propaganda into this article.

Not Brainwashed said...

Who is trying to network with libertarian groups or any other audience? Libertarians should be appalled. I posted to a number of libertarian fb groups, havent heard back, more folks need. getting onto fb, twiitter, instagram is absolutely necessary, take advantage of all communication channels, words are our weapons, and we need to shoot them out, to educate.

Unknown said...

U dont own ur body legally until u get free way I'm doing now. Join me on fb at Jodi graesser if ur done being a slave. When ur through the freedom process none none of these slave rules apply to u anymore. Including medical tyranny rules like this also.

Caryn said...

Thank you. Needed to be said. Desperately.

Anonymous said...

May Hashem bless you for standing up for Him! The end of times is when everyone realizes there is no one to rely on but Him! Hashem wants everyone to take a stand on which side he is siding; Hashem or anyone or anything else.Do you believe that Hashem is the only One that makes things happen- whether there will be peace or war, health or sickness etc. Man has no power! We are being tested and it would be wise to jump on to the bandwagon with Hashem (as you did) before this window of opportunity closes and Hashem reveals to the world on which side each person sided with the coming of Moshiach bimehairah!

Halachah Lemmaseh said...

Can you send your post to for as an opinion piece for him to publish? He publishes many articles from both sides of the discussion

Dsheaz said...

Excellent elucidation off things we know to be true intuitively, but challenging to put into words. Well done, and thank you Rabbi.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your courage and speaking the truth. May Hashem bless you and keep you safe.

Juliana H said...

God bless you for your wisdom! I want to speak with you! Can u email me? Thank you

Juliana Hanbridge

Rabbi Michoel Green said...

Who is "they?" I wrote this article and no one else. Happy to answer any questions you have. I reject your assumption that I "sneaked in political propoganda" in any way. I do employ sarcasm sometimes, but didn't intend to influence anyone's views about any of the cases I cited.

Anonymous said...

Very well written. It is hard for me to understand what is so hard to understand for others. My choice not to vaccinate doesn't impede your choice to vaccinate. Thank you for being a voice of reason.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much, Rabbi Green, for having the courage to write this immensely important article. In New Jersey, we have Holly's Law which memorializes the fact that Holly Stavola died at age 5 due to her 2nd MMR vaccine from MMR vaccine induced encephalopathy. Children in NJ are permitted to get their blood titers tested for measles, mumps and rubella prior to being given their 2nd mandated dose of the MMR vaccine. If their titers are high enough, they are considered exempt from the 2nd dose and can attend school without it. When a medical product can and does cause death, how is it considered ethical to mandate that product without generous legal exemptions in place? VAERS (the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) lists 430 deaths from different measles vaccines in the USA from 1987 to the present time. It is acknowledged that less than 1% of vaccine adverse events are reported by doctors who inject their patients with vaccines that harm or kill their patients. How many more children and adults have died from measles vaccines? How can it be considered ethical to mandate a medical product that can cause seizures, brain damage and death? How can it be considered eithical to throw vaccine-injured children and their families under the bus by denying them clearly well-justified medical exemptions, either? How can public "health" officials look at themselves in the mirror and say that the immunocompromised children matter more than children who have been harmed or killed by vaccines? May G-d bless you and keep you safe, Rabbi. Thank you again for having the courage to write this article.

Anon1826 said...

Any Jewish soul that had grandparents' that went through the gehenom of the Holocaust that involved forced experiments which resulted in the Nuremberg codes should be very afraid of what is going on now. To think that many were a part of the problem is unfathomable. We have given people the right to choose who goes right and who goes left... "Protecting" some children, while sacrificing others.

TLC Tugger said...

I'm glad the Rabbi favors bodily autonomy. I'll start Googling for his anti-circumcision essays.

Unknown said...

so right.

Rabbi Michoel Green said...

Please read my next post , "Bodily Autonomy and Halacha."

Anonymous said...

I didn't find this article to sneak in any kind of political view. What are you talking about?

Unknown said...

Sadly, the government can circumvent the Nuremburg Code by declaring you unfit to parent your children then taking them and doing whatever they want....including vaccinating.

Unknown said...

Sadly, the government can circumvent the Nuremburg Code by declaring you unfit to parent your children then taking them and doing whatever they want....including vaccinating.

Anonymous said...

Great post. I do find it very offputting that you promote the belief of dangerous criminality among people of color. ”Yet you deplore racial profiling and police's biased attitude towards minorities, even though there's an increased risk of violent offenders coming from that same minority population.” I really want to share this well written post but that portion of it prevents me. It doesn’t sit right with me at all.

Rabbi Michoel Green said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Rabbi Green,

Are you aware of the failure of the mumps and pertussis vaccines?

Are you aware of the two federal court cases against the maker of the MMR vaccine?

How can they legally force people to use defective products?

Rabbi Michoel Green said...

Thanks for sharing. No, I was not aware of that... shocking

Rabbi Michoel Green said...

Thank you. I just edited it. Please review and let me know if it still bothers you:

"Yet you'd deplore racial profiling or biased attitude towards any minority group, even if there were indeed increased risk of violent offenders coming from that particular minority population."

Anonymous said...

Thank you Rabbi for editing your post. I don’t want to derail the very important topic that you are discussing But I do think we have to be very careful of our word choice. I thank you for showing care to this matter and will definitely be sharing this article.