The Volokh Conspiracy

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An Evaluation of Religious Exemptions from COVID-19 Vaccine Requirements


Nathan Chapman and I have written an evaluation of religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccine requirements. We aren't addressing the legal basis of those exemptions. Instead, the question we take up is whether certain Protestant churches–the ones in the magisterial Reformation traditions (e.g., Lutherans, Anglicans, Presbyterians)–should endorse religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccine requirements. We consider three arguments that are made in favor of religious exemptions–the moral argument that receiving the vaccine makes one complicit in abortion, the conscience argument that the state should not override an individual Christian's conscience, and the risk argument that Christians with concerns about the safety of the vaccines therefore have a religious reason to refuse them. We find all three arguments wanting, and we conclude that churches in these Protestant traditions should not endorse religious exemptions to COVID-19 vaccines.

If you want to read the analysis, you can find it in two places: Mere Orthodoxy (a Protestant online and print journal) and Canopy Forum (hosted by the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University).