(AUGUSTA, ME) – Governor Mills’ vaccine mandate for health care workers would force numerous doctors, nurses, medical professionals, and others to choose between the exercise of their sincerely held religious beliefs and their employment. I have received many inquiries from constituents asking what they can do to advocate for religious exemptions.
No individual in Maine should ever be forced to violate their religious convictions. State government and all private employers with more than 15 employees are required by federal law to consider and grant meritorious religious exemptions. The governor cannot override or nullify federal law. In addition, any employer who refuses to consider or grant religious exemptions violates federal law.
All Maine health care workers are encouraged to demand that their employers consider religious exemption requests. If any employer states that religious exemptions are not allowed, they should obtain that in writing and seek legal counsel immediately.
Liberty Counsel sent a demand letter to Governor Janet Mills and health officials regarding the state’s attempt to remove religious exemptions and accommodations from unlawful COVID vaccine mandates for health care workers. Liberty Counsel is also expected to file a lawsuit this week against Governor Janet Mills demanding that she honor all federal protections and entitlements to accommodation for sincerely held religious beliefs. Our Governor needs to allow for citizen’s constitutionally protected religious exemptions and save the State of Maine a costly court battle. The legal background for this case is shown below.
At the same time, health care workers should be aware of the #WalkAway Campaign that encourages and supports those on the political left to walk away from the divisive tenets endorsed and mandated by the Democratic Party of today. According to their Website: “We are walking away from the lies, the false narratives, the fake news, the race-baiting, the victim narrative, the violence, the vandalism, the vitriol. We are walking away from a party driven by hate. We are walking toward patriotism and a new, unified America! We are the future of this great nation!”
Sen. Stacey Guerin: “Governor Mills cannot ignore federal law and force health care workers to violate their religious beliefs and submit to an experimental injection. All Maine health care workers have the right to request reasonable accommodation for their sincerely held religious beliefs. To force COVID vaccines without exemptions is wrong.”
Pastor Matthew Ward – Charleston Church: “There are many health care workers, because of their faith, who consider their service to Maine residents as not only a career but a calling. These selfless men and women rely on their deeply-held spiritual convictions as their source of daily strength and success. Each one entered into this most sacred work understanding their protections and rights. Let’s continue to support those who are our local heroes by allowing them to exercise their rights as citizens.”
Pastor Stan Griffin, Cornerstone Baptist Church, Exeter: “We are losing our freedoms like we have never done before. We are no longer being governed by the consent of the people. We are being governed by fiat. People are extremely frustrated by the growing lack of choice. We are not only fearful for Christians but for Americans.”
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Background: All health care workers are protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which provides for religious exemptions and accommodations from mandates that employers require. COVID vaccines cannot be mandatory under this Act. In general, religious exemption requests by employees must be accommodated, where a reasonable accommodation exists without undue hardship to the employer.
In Title VII, it is unlawful for an employer: “(1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; or (2) to limit, segregate, or classify his employees or applicants for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”
Only one of the COVID vaccines is approved or licensed by the FDA, and these vaccines cannot be mandatory under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). On March 27, 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared that circumstances exist justifying the EUA of drugs and biological products for COVID-19. That means people must be told the risks and benefits, and they have the right to decline a medication that is not fully licensed. All of the COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson) have received only EAU authorization and not full FDA approval.
The federal Emergency Use Authorization law and the FDA, including the FDA Fact Sheet, state unequivocally that each person has the “option to accept or refuse” the vaccine. In addition to federal law, the FDA includes the Nuremberg Code and the Helsinki Declaration on its website, emphasizing the fact that people cannot be forced to take experimental drugs without their full consent.