Monday, February 07, 2022

Federal Gov. Tracking "Religious Exemption Requests"

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On January 18, the Heritage Foundation's "Daily Signal" reported that there are at least 19 federal agencies that have created, or propose to create, tracking lists for religious-exemption requests from their employees.

Now the Christian Post is reporting, "As many as 55 federal departments and agencies have created 57 rule changes to keep track of employees who have requested some kind of religious exemption."

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt has written a letter to the Biden Administration demanding to know exactly why they are doing this.

History provides us with many examples of states run by despots who kept lists. It never ended well for those on the list.

Be informed, not misled.

Trust God, but government.

Heritage says in January they discovered an obscure federal agency that had plans to keep lists of the "personal religious information" of "employees who had religious objections to the federal employee vaccine mandate."

As it turns out," they say, "the little-known Pre-trial Services Agency for the District of Columbia isn't the only federal agency involved. As we feared, a whole-of-government effort looks to be underway."

After a little more research, Heritage found that there was not one agency, but 19 total agencies---including five cabinet-level agencies---that have created, or proposed to create, these tracking lists for religious-exemption requests from their employers. involved in cataloging.

The list of agencies includes the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of the Treasury---to name a few of them.

As the nation's largest employer with over four million civilian and military employees, the federal government has received tens of thousands of religious exemption requests.

It appears our government, through a number of federal agencies, is keeping and preserving those individuals' names, religious information, personally-identifying information, and other data stored in lists across multiple government agencies.

Why are they doing this?

Heritage says this:

The earliest set of proposals appears to have been rolled out in October of last year, during the start of the holiday season in a possible effort to ensure very little attention was paid to a coordinated data collection move. Many of the announcements have clocked only a few page views. Almost none attracted any public comments. Most permitted only a 30-day window for submitting objections. All announcements were issued within a few weeks of one another.

The timing alone raises questions.

The Pre-trial Services Agency in D.C. was only the most recent iteration of a disturbing trend—the Biden administration is creating lists that can all communicate with one another on which individuals have sought religious exemptions from the federal employee vaccine mandate or other religious accommodations within the scope of their employment by the government.

Several of the notices, but not all, indicate that they are being issued to implement Biden’s COVID-19 executive order on federal government employees. The rest have proffered the Privacy Act of 1974—which establishes a code of information practices that govern the collection, maintenance, use, and dissemination of information about individuals stored by federal agencies—as their justification for the creation of a new list.

The agencies plan to collect religious affiliation, the reasons and support given for religious accommodation requests, names, contact information, date of birth, aliases, home address, contact information, and other identifying information. These lists will be shared between federal agencies.

The notices do not explain how long they plan on storing this data, why they need to share it between agencies, or why they need to keep it beyond the decision to grant or deny an employee’s religious accommodation request.

Since the January 18th Heritage article, according to the Christian Post, Liberty Counsel is reporting they have discovered as many as 55 federal departments and agencies that are involved in creating lists of religious people who have applied for exemption on a number of different issues.

And in order to do so, these government agencies have created 57 rule changes to keep track of employees or applicants who have sought religious exemptions of various kinds.

For example, the Treasury Department's Office of Civil Rights and Diversity has stated its database will document all religious exemption requests and denials.

The office will "also record 'correspondence', and supporting 'notes of documentation' and even 'records of oral conversations,' on every person who requests an exemption. This database will track and record this level of information on everyone from 'pre-employment', during current or former employment or for [attendees at] a particular event."

The US Army, we've learned, is going beyond recording religious preferences, it is now pairing this religious information with biometric data, like fingerprints and digital photographs.

According to this report, the "database can include personal information, audio conversations, and photos---and that information can be shared with any branch of our government and even foreign nations."

How far can this kind of activity go?

On January 24, Rep. Ben Cline, R-Va., sent a letter signed by 10 Republican members of  Congress to President Biden, condemning his administration for keeping this list.  

The letter said in part, 

"From day one, your administration has displayed a consistent attitude of contempt towards Americans who prioritize faith in their lives. “A majority of the notices do not explain how long the agency plans to store the data, why the agency needs to share the data between federal agencies, or why the agency needs to keep the data beyond a decision to grant or deny an employee’s religious accommodation request. Your administration has offered no valid justification for these intrusive databases that will only be used to target Americans who have refused a COVID-19 vaccine because of their religious convictions.”

This activity can and will go as far as citizens allow it to go.

Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., has introduced HR 6502, known as the "Religious Freedom Over Mandates Act," which would prohibit the use of federal funds for any system of records on religious accommodations with respect to any COVID-19 vaccination requirement.

This matter has also raised eyebrows for Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt. He has stated strenuous opposition of the list creation to Sec. of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.

"On November 18, at the direction of the Biden administration, four federal agencies simultaneously announced that those who exercise their legal right to seek a health or religious waiver from a vaccine mandate would be tracked in federal databases. Rather than give the public ample time to weigh in on the advisability or legality of collecting such personal information, the Department of Transportation’s database, in particular, became effective on the day it was published… The chilling effect on a citizens’ exercise of religion due to the creation of this Database is alarming… the federal government decrees that a citizen who seeks a medical exemption or a waiver based on a sincerely held religious belief has automatically consented to being entered into the database. To put it plainly, invoking the legal right to exercise one’s religious faith risks simultaneously waiving that legal right."    

Schmitt is demanding answers from the Biden administration. 


Many of these personal cases have to do specifically with those who, due to medical conditions or deeply held religious beliefs, cannot take the shot. But not all of them. A number of those being added to the list are related to other deeply held religious beliefs, such as not working on the"sabbath" or on Sunday.

Matt Staver with Liberty Counsel, says: "IBM created a database of the Jewish people in Europe. Using this database, Nazis were able to identify the Jews and prohibit them from public and then private employment. This database is what enabled Nazis to round up those targeted for ghettos and concentration camps."

Jorge Gomez, also with Liberty Counsel, says: "Tyranny and repression aren't too far away when the state begins to actively track the faithful. Religious liberty is greatly endangered once the state monitors religious citizens in order to get them to conform to the government's sanctioned viewpoint."

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