COVID-19 vaccine religious exemptions: Where do different religions stand on COVID-19 vaccinations? – WSYR

Posted By on September 22, 2021

(WSYR-TV) On Thursday, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America released a statement on religious exemptions and the COVID-19 vaccine.

His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, the highest clergy member of the Greek Orthodox religion in the United States, met with Bishops from across the country on a video conference. The group unanimously affirmed that the Church not only permits vaccinations against diseases but encourages Her Faithful, after medical tests and approbations, to be vaccinated with the approved vaccines against SARS-CoV-2, according to a statement from the Archdiocese.

The statement continues on to read:

In addition, although some may be exempt from the vaccination for clear medical reasons, there is no exemption in the Orthodox Church for Her faithful from any vaccination for religious reasons, including the coronavirus vaccine. For this reason, letters of exemption for the vaccination against the coronavirus for religious purposes issued by priests of the Archdiocese of America have no validity, and furthermore, no clergy are to issue such religious exemption letters for any reason.

Today the Holy Eparchial Synod declared that there is no religious exemption from any vaccine, including the COVID19 vaccine. Any such letter written by any clergyman of the Holy Archdiocese of America is not valid. No clergy are to issue such religious exemption letters.

The head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, has urged people to get the COVID-19 vaccine and said that getting the shot is an act of love.

Thanks to Gods grace and to the work of many, we now have vaccines to protect us from COVID-19, The Pope said in the video below. He continued on to say that vaccines, bring hope to end the pandemic, but only if they are available to all and if we collaborate with one another.

Pope Francis received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine back in January, according to The Vatican.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops shared in the fall of 2020 a statement clearing up confusion on the Catholic Churchs views on the COVID vaccines.

Neither the Pfizer nor the Moderna vaccine involved the use of cell lines that originated in fetal tissue taken from the body of an aborted baby at any level of design, development, or production. They are not completely free from any connection to abortion, however, as both Pfizer and Moderna made use of a tainted cell line for one of the confirmatory lab tests of their products. There is thus a connection, but it is relatively remote.

Some are asserting that if a vaccine is connected in any way with tainted cell lines then it is immoral to be vaccinated with them. This is an inaccurate portrayal of Catholic moral teaching.


It is morally permissible to accept vaccination when there are no alternatives and there is a serious risk to health.

In March of 2021, the organization questioned the moral permissibility of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Pfizer and Modernas vaccines raised concerns becausean abortion-derived cell line was used for testing them, but not in their production. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, however, was developed, tested and is produced with abortion-derived cell lines raising additional moral concerns. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has judged that when ethically irreproachable Covid-19 vaccines are not available it is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process.[1]However, if one can choose among equally safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, the vaccine with the least connection to abortion-derived cell lines should be chosen. Therefore, if one has the ability to choose a vaccine, Pfizer or Modernas vaccines should be chosen over Johnson & Johnsons.

Mitzvah is one of the Torahs 613 Divine commandments; a good deed or religious precept, according to Rabbi Yehuda Shurpin. Rabbi Shurpin writes guarding your own health doesnt only make sense, its actually a mitzvah. That means that even if you dont want to do it, for whatever reason, you are still obligated to do so. The Torah is teaching us that our body is a gift from God, and we are therefore not the owners of it and we cant cause it any damage.

The three major branches of modern Judaism include Reform, Orthodox, and Conservative. Organizations and leaders across the three branches have released statements in support of vaccinations.

The Union for Reform Judaism is governed by a 253-member North American board of trustees that work with other URJ leaders and members of the professional staff. In 2015, the Resolution on Mandatory Immunization laws was adopted after being submitted by the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism. The resolution states:

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVEDthat the Union for Reform Judaism:

The Central Conference of American Rabbis released a statement in April saying that the organization:

And the Orthodox Union released a statement in support of COVID-19 vaccinations:

As we look forward to the celebration of Pesach, we are profoundly grateful that many regions are beginning to see some lifting of the pandemic limitations, particularly due to the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines. We hope and pray that the vaccination campaign will gather even more momentum, allowing all of us to soon be afforded its protection and ultimately defeating the virus. We salute our shuls and communities for their efforts in vaccine education and facilitation of appointments and vaccine access.

The Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America said in a statement that there is no way to stop the pandemic besides reaching herd immunity. Herd immunity requires a certain percentage of a population have immunity to a virus. The AMJA says this can happen one of two ways:

The first way does not conform with the Sharia, because it risks the lives of people, particularly the weak, which is in direct conflict with the intent of the legislator with regard to preserving all human lives. Its harms go beyond the realm of public health to affect peoples worship and livelihood and other aspects of their lives.

The second way is through vaccination, which is congruent with the Sharia and reason. The permissibility of taking medicine to repel an existing disease or prevent an expected one is a matter of consensus among the people of knowledge. The point of contention is whether it is obligatory or not, and various fiqh councils have addressed this matter in detail, and one of the cases where taking medicine is obligatory is when the disease may harm others. This may apply to the case of COVID-19, which is extremely contagious.

Many Muslims who strictly practice Islam avoid pork. The National Muslim COVID-19 Task Force shared in December 2020 that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, contain fat, salts/buffer agents, and sugar (sucrose). The fat is not made from pork products.

In a joint statement with the National Black Muslim COVID Coalition, the National Muslim Taskforce on COVID-19 shared two points:

1. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines DO NOT contain pork products or alcohol and were NOT made using aborted fetal stem cells. They are made using novel mRNA technology.

2. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine works similarly to older vaccines. They do not have pork products, but have been manufactured using cell lines from aborted fetal stem cells. However, many juridical authorities have deemed them permissible to use given the societal and individual health needs to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

For 29 to 30 days each year, Muslims fast during the holy month of Ramadan. From sunrise to sunset, they do not eat or drink anything. In 2021, Ramadan was from mid-April to mid-May, a time when more people had become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

The National Muslim COVID-19 Taskforce shared a statement from the Fiqh Council of North America prior to Ramadan stating that COVID-19 vaccines do not invalidate fasting.

All non-nutritional injections taken by the muscles are permissible to take during fasting, according to most Muslim jurists. It is permissible to take COVID Vaccine injection during fasting in Ramadan or at any time. It will not invalidate the fast because it has no nutritional value and it is injected into the muscle.

Buddhism has no central authority that determines doctrine, but The Dalai Lama received his COVID-19 vaccine in India in March which was shared on his YouTube page.

After receiving his shot, the Dalai Lama said, those other patients also should take this injection for greater benefit, calling the shot very very helpful.

The First Presidency, the governing body of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, urged Latter-day Saints to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in August.

To provide personal protection from such severe infections, we urge individuals to be vaccinated. Available vaccines have proven to be both safe and effective.

A small branch of Christianity, Christian Science, founded by Mary Baker Eddy released a statement on vaccinations and public health.

According to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, One of the basic teachings of this denomination is that disease can be cured or prevented by focused prayer and members will often request exemptions when available. However, there are no strict rules against vaccination andmembers can receive required vaccinations.

For more than a century, our denomination has counseled respect for public health authorities and conscientious obedience to the laws of the land, including those requiring vaccination. Christian Scientists report suspected communicable disease, obey quarantines, and strive to cooperate with measures considered necessary by public health officials. We see this as a matter of basic Golden Rule ethics and New Testament love.

As for the issue of exemptions for vaccination in the law, Christian Scientists perspective on this issue may be unique. In the past, many public officials have been broadly supportive of exemptions when these have not been considered a danger to the wider community. In more recent years, public health concerns relating to vaccinations have risen as exemptions from them have been claimed by larger numbers. Christian Scientists recognize the seriousness of these concerns.

Most of our church members normally rely on prayer for healing. Its a deeply considered spiritual practice and way of life that has meant a lot to us over the years. So weve appreciated vaccination exemptions and sought to use them conscientiously and responsibly, when they have been granted.

On the other hand, our practice isnt a dogmatic thing. Church members are free to make their own choices on all life-decisions, in obedience to the law, including whether or not to vaccinate. These arent decisions imposed by their church.

As there are many Christian denominations, not all were broken down in this article. According to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, the following Christian denominations have no theological objection to vaccination:

Vanderbilt University Medical Center says the following denominations do have a theological objection to vaccination:

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COVID-19 vaccine religious exemptions: Where do different religions stand on COVID-19 vaccinations? - WSYR

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