Thursday, August 26, 2021

WA State to Evaluate Personal Faith

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Washington State Governor Jay Inslee is now requiring thousands of employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of their employment.

This includes state employees, healthcare workers, teachers, school volunteers, and coaches.

However the state has provided a "religious exemption"---If your faith passes the state test.

Everyone, regardless of employer, regardless of the state you live in, should be informed.

This thinking is not isolated to Washington State.

The state is fine with you and your religion, as long as you don't act on that faith. Or talk about it out loud.

Be informed, not misled.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is one of the brightest minds ever to serve on the US Supreme Court.

Regarding religious liberty, he has said this:

"Religious liberty is about freedom of action in matters of religion generally, and the scope of that liberty is directly correlated to the civil restraints placed upon religious practice."

When Governor Jay Inslee announced in mid-August that all state employees must be vaccinated as a condition of employment, it wasn't clear what would qualify as a "religious exemption."

It's abundantly clear now.

When the state evaluates your faith as a condition of employment.

KXLY TV4 in Spokane, WA is reporting that "this week state agencies and schools are receiving the forms that employees must fill out to qualify as a religious exemption."

The form asks the employee to "describe the religious belief, practice, or observance that is the basis for [the] religious exemption."

It also asks if the religious belief objects to all medical treatment, all vaccinations, or only the COVID-19 vaccination."

The employee is then asked to explain the accommodation---they are required by the state to give a defense of their faith.

Justice Thomas is not the only person concerned about "freedom of action" regarding our personal faith.

I have personally heard from some who support our ministry who are seriously considering moving out of the state because of this matter. Some whose job is being challenged by the state, others are simply acting on principle.

In either case, this is serious. 

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, after being freed from prison in the Soviet Union, wrote about what he had observed---and some of his concerns. In "The Gulag Archipelago" he wrote this:

"The root destruction of religion in the country...could be realized only by mass arrests of Orthodox believers. Monks and nuns, whose black habits had been a distinctive feature of old Russian life, were intensively rounded up on every hand, placed under arrest, and sent into exile. They arrested and sentenced active laymen. The circles kept getting bigger, as they raked in ordinary believers as well, old people, and particularly women, who were the most stubborn believers of all...True, they were supposedly being arrested and tried not for their actual faith but for openly declaring their convictions and for bringing up their children in the same spirit. As Tanya Khodkevich wrote: 'You can pray freely, but just so God alone can hear'."

Translated: "Believe what you want, but don't act on it and don't talk about it out loud."

How the state will evaluate your faith.

The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) has also sent out guidance for how a district should assess a request for religious accommodation.

It's a guide to how an employer can fire you based on their analysis of your faith.

The guide suggests the employer "proceed with caution and obtain legal advice...if they have doubts as to the sincerely held religious belief."

The employer is also advised to ask limited questions about the religious belief.

"Such questions," they say, "might include how long the employee has followed the professed belief or what constitutes the basic tenets of the religion."

Then there is this guidance:

"The employer does not have to accept a high level statement of religious observance that provides no details; an employer can ask about a specific belief, tenet, or observance that conflicts with the vaccination requirement. The template religious accommodation request form includes a question about the conflict presented."

A number of other agencies are also posting these forms for employees to fill out---including Washington State Transportation which has posted both the religious and medical exemption request forms online.

The medical exemption request form requires a healthcare provider to answer questions about the employee and the need for an exemption. The form must be signed by a physician. 

Restriction of religious liberty undermines the foundations of freedom.

Justice Thomas clearly recognizes the link between religious liberty and civil freedom. So did Ronald Reagan.

Reagan said, "Freedom prospers when religion is vibrant and the rule of law under God is acknowledged."

So-called "progressive" policies always lead to loss of freedom, because "progressivism" is fundamentally about control and restraint---not about liberty and freedom. Nor is it about progress.

Our ability to seek the truth about God and live according to our beliefs has been an essential part of American order from the beginning. No other nation has been created on the premise of God-given unalienable rights protected by government. 

In recent years I have been stunned at the speed and intensity in which our basic God-given freedoms have been attacked, assaulted, and "canceled."

This is an example of that. 

I don't know what the governor is thinking, but his actions suggest he believes the so-called "common good" is far more important than religious liberty. Karl Marx shared that belief. 

So does Joe Biden. And the majority party in the House of Representatives and half the Senate. 

True religious freedom is under attack. So are the most fundamental Judeo-Christian beliefs about the sanctity of life, marriage, and human sexuality. And now, our personal medical practices.

The people of so-called "choice" are giving us little to "no-choice" regarding our own bodies.

This is a time to stand strong in the faith, regardless of what government does.

And remember "Those whom the Son sets free are free, indeed."

Heritage Foundation has published an excellent article about understanding our religious freedom. It's an 8-minute read but it's very informative.

Be Informed. Be Discerning. Be Vigilant. Be Engaged. Be Prayerful.