Washington D.C., Oct 6, 2021 / 10:40 am
New guidance on issuing COVID-19 vaccine religious exemptions for federal employees insufficiently treats the matter of conscience, one Catholic bioethicist told CNA.
Federal employees are now required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 22, 2021. Guidance for federal agencies from the Office of Personnel Management, released on Monday, Oct. 4, states that employees requesting a religious exemption to the mandate “must first establish that [their] refusal to be vaccinated is based upon a sincere belief that is religious in nature.”
A template for religious exemptions includes a seven-part form for employees to fill out, asking a series of questions about employees’ religious-based objection to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
However, religious exemptions should be “liberally available” for employees, said Fr. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, Ph.D., the director of education at The National Catholic Bioethics Center, in an interview with CNA. Otherwise, the vaccine mandates “can easily become intrusive, blunt instruments that end up violating personal liberties,” he said.