COVID-19 vaccine exemptions: where are the different religions on vaccinations?



(WSYR) – While a significant number of Americans seek religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccine warrants, many religious leaders say: Not with our approval.

Leaders of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America said last week that while some people may have medical reasons for not receiving the vaccine, “there is no exemption in the Orthodox Church for its followers from any vaccination for religious reasons.”

What are other religious leaders saying about COVID-19 vaccines?


The head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, urged people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and said getting the vaccine is an “act of love.”

“Thanks to the grace of God and the work of many, we now have vaccines to protect us from COVID-19,” the Pope said in the video below. He went on to say that the vaccines “bring hope to end the pandemic, but only if they are available to everyone and if we work together with each other.”

Pope Francis received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in January, according to the Vatican.

There was some controversy over whether the development of vaccines made them morally acceptable according to the church. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops released a confusing statement:

Neither the Pfizer vaccine nor the Moderna vaccine involved the use of cell lines from fetal tissue taken from the body of an aborted baby at any level of conception, development or production. However, they are not completely free from any connection to abortion, as Pfizer and Moderna both used a contaminated cell line for one of their products’ confirmatory lab tests. So there is a connection, but it is relatively far away.

Some argue that if a vaccine is linked in any way to contaminated cell lines, then it is immoral to be vaccinated with them. This is an inaccurate representation of Catholic moral teaching.

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades and Bishop Joseph F. Naumann

In March 2021, the organization questioned the moral validity of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, however, has been developed, tested and produced with cell lines derived from abortions, which raises additional moral concerns. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has ruled that “when ethically flawless Covid-19 vaccines are not available … it is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process.[1] However, if one can choose from equally safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, the vaccine with the least connection to cell lines derived from abortions should be chosen. Therefore, if one has the option of choosing a vaccine, the vaccines from Pfizer or Moderna should be chosen over those from Johnson & Johnson.

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, chair of the Committee on Doctrine of the United States Catholic Bishops’ Conference (USCCB), and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, chair of the USCCB committee on pro-life activities


Mitzvah is one of the 613 divine commandments of the Torah; a good deed or a religious precept, according to Rabbi Yehuda Shurpin. Rabbi Shurpin writes that “protecting one’s own health doesn’t just make sense, it’s actually a mitzvah. This means that even if you don’t want to do it, for whatever reason, you still have to.

The three main branches of modern Judaism include Reformation, Orthodoxy, and the Conservative. Organizations and leaders from all three branches have issued statements in favor of immunization.

The Union for Reform Judaism passed the resolution on compulsory vaccination laws in 2015. The resolution supports mandatory vaccination laws and urges congregations to educate members on “scientific evidence and Jewish values ​​in support of mandatory vaccinations.”

The Orthodox Union also issued a statement in favor of COVID-19 vaccinations:


The Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America said in a press release that there is no way to stop the pandemic besides achieving collective immunity. Collective immunity requires that a certain percentage of the population be immunized against a virus. AMJA says this can happen in two ways:

  1. Allowing the infection to spread among people without reducing it
  2. Vaccinate people against the virus

The first way is not Sharia-compliant because it endangers the lives of people, especially the weakest, which is in direct conflict with the legislator’s intention to preserve all human lives. …

The second path is vaccination, which is in accordance with Sharia law and reason.

AMJA Residents Fatwa Committee

Many Muslims who practice Islam avoid pork. The Muslim COVID-19 National Working Group said in December 2020 that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines “contain fats, salts / buffering agents, and sugar (sucrose). Fat is not made from pork products.


Buddhism does not have a central authority that determines doctrine, but the Dalai Lama received his COVID-19 vaccine in India in March.

After receiving his injection, the Dalai Lama said, “These other patients should also receive this injection for greater benefit”, calling the injection “very, very useful.”

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The First Presidency, the governing body of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, urged Latter-day Saints to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in August, saying, “For personal protection against such serious infections, we urge people to be vaccinated. The available vaccines have been shown to be both safe and effective.

Christian Science

A small branch of Christianity, Christian Science published a vaccination and public health statement.

According to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, “One of the basic teachings of this denomination is that disease can be cured or prevented through targeted prayer and members will often request exemptions when available. However, there are no strict rules against vaccination and members can receive the required vaccines. “

For more than a century, our denomination has advocated respect for public health authorities and conscientious obedience to the laws of the land, including those requiring vaccination. Christian scientists report a suspected communicable disease, obey quarantines, and strive to cooperate with measures deemed necessary by public health officials. We see this as a matter of basic New Testament Golden Rule and love ethics. …

Most of our church members normally rely on prayer for healing. It is a deeply thoughtful spiritual practice and way of life that has meant a lot to us over the years. We have therefore appreciated the immunization exemptions and sought to use them conscientiously and responsibly, when granted.

On the other hand, our practice is not dogmatic. Church members are free to make their own choices about all life decisions, within the limits of the law, including whether or not to immunize. These are not decisions imposed by their church.

A Christian Science Perspective on Immunization and Public Health


As there are many Christian denominations, not all of them have been detailed in this article. According to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, the following Christian denominations have no theological objection to vaccination:

  • Roman Catholicism
  • Eastern Orthodox
  • Oriental Orthodox
  • Amish
  • Anglican
  • Baptist
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon)
  • Congregation
  • episcopalian
  • Jehovah’s Witness (Note: this denomination first denounced vaccination, but revised this doctrine in 1952. A item in a recent issue of the church’s newsletter promotes immunization to prevent infectious disease.)
  • Lutheran
  • mennonite
  • Methodist (including African Methodist episcopal)
  • Quaker
  • pentecostal
  • Presbyterian
  • Seventh Day Adventist
  • Unitarian-Universalist

Vanderbilt University Medical Center says the following denominations have a theological objection to vaccination:

  • Dutch Reformed Congregations – This denomination has a tradition of declining vaccinations. Some members refuse vaccination on the grounds that it interferes with divine providence. However, others in the faith accept vaccination as a gift from God to be used with gratitude.
  • The faith healing denominations, including:
  • Tabernacle of Faith
  • Church of the Firstborn
  • Assembly of Faith
  • End time ministry
  • Church of Christ, scientist


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