Religious Exemption Request Letters are needed for many things whether it be to request work schedule accommodations, the holy days off, or to be exempted from a vaccine mandate. This article is primary focused on vaccination exemption requests, however some of this information should be helpful for other religious accommodation requests as well.
Something to keep in mind throughout this process is that the reviewer doesn’t know you, your beliefs, or your lifestyle. So while it may seem unnecessary to go into much detail, this is one of the few times where providing extra information is necessary and will help in your favor. So remind yourself repeatedly as you write… “more is better.” Don’t “go easy” on it. Don’t hold back. Apply liberally. Lay it on thick!
Know Your Audience
Most Americans are (or at least seem to be) sime flavor of ‘mainstream Christian’… Knowing this can be very helpful. Mainstream Christians typically assume that everyone else is Christian as well, and they have a hard time understanding religion that doesn’t contain certain key words. So while your deity might be a flying speghetti monster and your church might be the water, good luck trying to get them to take it seriously. Therefore, rather than trying to go into detail to justify your beliefs, summarize using verbiage that anyone could understand. More on that later.
This Doesn’t Guarantee Approval
Remember, writing and submitting a religious exemption request does not automatically mean that you are granted the accommodation. Your request will still have to be approved by your employer via whatever their internal process is. Also, regardless of how though out and well written you request is, your employer may reply with additional questions or seeking some type of proof. So, be ready for that. Including as much information as possible in your letter may reduce or remove their need to request additional information from you.
Regardless of what your religion (or lack thereof) is, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, states that an employer must not discriminate against an employee on the basis of that employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs or practices so long as that accommodation does not present unnecessary hardship to the company. . The law protects not only people who belong to major organized religions such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism, but also lesser known religions and those who have sincerely held religious beliefs.
‘Beardism‘, or whatever you identify as. If you must disclose. If you aren’t being asked to list a religion, then I suggest that you don’t. The law does not require that you state what your religion is, or even that you follow an organized belief system or belong to a religious group. You can believe whatever you want, and call it whatever you want, or don’t give it a name at all. It is completely up to you. (Can we say Freedom.) Consider ‘Solitary Eclectic’… Meaning, “I do my own thing, and my beliefs are a mixture of different things. See: What is a Religious Belief? For more information.
What are your beliefs that pushed you to write this request? If this request is regarding mandatory vaccinations, are you againsloopnokt all vaccinations, or just this one? Explain.
The current COVID-19 vaccines are not like traditional vaccines. These are using a new method that has never been used in vaccinations before. Traditional vaccinations have been around for hundreds of years and include exposing the body to a small amount of virus (in modern times, a ‘dead’ version) so that your immune system can learn how to fight against it. The COVID-19 vaccines do not contain any of the virus. Instead, they contain a chemical which was created in a laboratory and is similar to the actual virus protein. This laboratory version is intended to trigger your body to create more of this type of protein, so that your immune system can learn how to fight against it.
The Holy Beard is very much about traditional lifestyle, traditional medicine, and “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it…” so why anyone would want to try something completely new during a time of emergency is difficult to understand. People have used traditional vaccinations for a very long time, and it has worked very well. The Holy Beard teaches that regardless of how well these vaccines were tested and reviewed over the past few months, that doesn’t even compare to decades or centuries of experience. But I digress. Your request letter must be focused on your deeply and sincerely held religious beliefs, and not your opinion, or philosophical or political beliefs. So be sure to not ramble or provide any information that could be considered opinion or philosophical.
Again, as stated above, just because you are submitting a Religious Exemption Request, that doesn’t guarantee approval. It also does not mean that you are approved until denied. Rather, assume that you are not approved until official approval is received. You can write the best letter in the world and still not get approved. But denial should not stop you from contesting if you truly believe that the request should have been approved.
Points to Review Before You Start Writing
1. Again, the person reviewing your request does not know you. Even if you feel like you know this person, write your letter as though you have never met before.
2. Remember, this request is for a Religious Exemption, so it must be about religion. It is not about medical, personal or philosophical beliefs, or legal objections to vaccine mandates. If you choose to also submit other types of exemption requests as well, be sure to be clear in your reasons and don’t combine them. Have one letter for religion, one for medical, etc.
3. The law does not require that you state what your religion is, or even that you have a religion. However, if you can get a letter from a clergy stating the sincerity and devotion of your beliefs, and include that with your exemption request, that may help your case. If you can get several letters, that may be even better. Just be sure to refer to the clergy’s letter(s) in your request letter, and include a statement of how you know this person. It doesn’t have to be much, just something to tie it all together and give the clergy’s letter more validity. (Never join a church, real or not, just to get a letter.)
4. Use your own words. At a time like this you may be getting “advice” from various sources to include friends, family, social media, etc. So it is important that you don’t simply copy what they tell you in order to try to “make it sound good.” This is a very personal thing for you… Your friends, family, and social media don’t know your beliefs like you do. Throughout this article I make references and suggest phrases that you are welcome to use so long as they ring true to you. But don’t just copy it, put it into your own words. Besides, there’s nothing stopping your approver from talking with you personally about it, and if you can’t explain your beliefs in a similar enough way, that could be a problem. They could also respond and request additional explanation from you, so be ready for that.
5. A “personal religious belief” means that you are allowed to have a personal translation of the word of your god or deity which translates to refusing vaccines or even just this type of vaccine. So, if a religious principle, that you truly and sincerely believe in, translates to your understanding of the “Word of God” as refusing vaccines, then your belief fits the definition for a legal waiver.
6. Many religions don’t have an official stance on vaccinations. Regardless of the fact that in recent days many influential figures have publicly expressed support for vaccination. This lack of official stance provides you more freedom to translate the “Word of God” the way that you personally understand it. The law was intentionally written in a broad way to enable individuals to easily fit within it, so long as you can show that your beliefs are sincerely held. Just remember, that you must show that it is a sincerely held religious belief.
7. Be sure to call out the specific law in your letter. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the law that prevents employers from discriminating against an employee on the basis of that employee’s religion, religious beliefs, or religious practices.
8. Certain words are recognized as religious key words. Use these key words to emphasize the religious nature of your request. Don’t go overboard with it. You don’t have to fit all of these words into your letter, just use them where / if you feel that they apply correctly in that sentence. For Pagan’s and those not of mainstream religious: these words may not feel right to you to use, but remember who your audience is… Be sure to use key words that the average person will recognize as emphasizing ‘religion’ and ‘religious beliefs,’ even if you wouldn’t normally use that in a sentence.
- God or ‘my god’
- Religious Mandate
- Personal understanding of God’s message to me
- Unique understanding of God’s
- Word of God
Parts of the Letter
I’m going to break down the writing process into sections which should make it easy to follow.
Part 1: Overview and Request for Exemption
Make a statement declaring your request for religious exemption. Briefly state or reference the law (Article VII) that allows you the exemption or accommodation. If there is a company or school policy that allows religious exemptions or accommodations, cite that as well.
Example: (Personalize appropriately.)
To whom it may concern, or Dear (Person),
I am writing to formally and respectfully apply for exemption to the (organization name) COVID-19 vaccination policy which requires all employees (or students) to show proof of vaccination in order to continue employment.
This request is being made on religious grounds. I hold sincere and genuine beliefs that forbid me from accepting a COVID-19 vaccination.
As I’m sure that you know, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, an employer must not discriminate against an employee on the basis of that employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs or practices. The law protects not only people who belong to major organized religions such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism, but also lesser known religions and those who have sincerely held religious beliefs.
Part 2: Request Confidentiality
Clearly ask that this letter be kept confidential so that your letter doesn’t get read by many people. It should go without saying that all employee / Human Resources correspondence should be kept confidential, but it can be helpful for many reasons to specifically state it in your letter. Plus, there are legitimate social problems that can arise as a result of sharing your beliefs that do not align with the popular stance.
I ask that this request for exemption remain completely confidential and only be seen by those with an absolute need to know.
These are my deeply held personal religious beliefs and not for dissemination or public release, and not something that I share in casual conversation. The only reason that I am sharing it with you now is because the law requires that I do so.
Part 3: Explain Your Beliefs
This part can be difficult because it requires that you open yourself up to someone you may not know or someone whom you may not like… But this part is very important, and how much you are willing to share can make the difference between your approval or denial. Briefly explain your religious history and beliefs, and why those beliefs prevent you from receiving the COVID-19 vaccination.
Again, DO NOT COPY these examples word for word. The credibility of your letter depends greatly on the way you explain your personal religious beliefs. This section is essential for explaining how you translate your spiritual guidance and how serious you take your adherence to it.
Remember, this is about religion, so explain how you developed your connection with your god as part of your personal history. You do not need to go into detail about any traumatic events, any health problems, or any vaccine reactions in the past. This about religion and beliefs, not medical concerns or personal opinions. Discussing anything other than religion and religious beliefs could cause the reviewer to question your authenticity. Don’t digress, get side-tracked, or allow your letter to wander off topic.
Be clear in your beliefs that the vaccine will go against the spiritual guidance that you have received. If you believe that the vaccine will prevent you from worshiping your god in the way that you believe you should, explain that.
Possible Religious Objections to Consider:
mRNA and adenovirus vector vaccines:
COVID-19 vaccines are the first mRNA (Pfizer/Moderna) or adenoviral vector (J & J) vaccines. These vaccines do not operate in the same way as “traditional” vaccines. Specifically, instead of using a fragment of dead virus and an adjuvant to help induce an immune response, these COVID-19 vaccine
products are genetic coding instructions that purport to instruct your body to produce a spike protein that is not natural to your own human genetic system.
While some authorities claim that this does not alter a human’s genetic structure and/or that the “vaccine” stays localized to the vaccination area (shoulder) and does not spread to the rest of the human body, other scientists and authorities disagree, and there is evidence to support their views. In any case, it is not fully known what these new technologies are actually doing to our human DNA. The possibility of genetically altering the human body, the body “created by God in His image,” is something you might want to include in your reasons for not wanting to take these new gene therapy products in particular.
Aborted Fetal Tissue:
A person can also have religious objections to vaccines based on the fact that some vaccines are created using a culture from aborted fetal tissue. Many believe that using vaccines produced from aborted fetuses shows a profound disrespect for the remains of these children. Using vaccines that exploit these deaths for profit violates the teachings of the church. Many believe that vaccination supports abortion and consequently violates conscience. Conscience is a strong force in Christianity. However, not all vaccines are created using aborted fetal tissue. Offered in combination with other religious principles, however, it presents strong support. But these beliefs should be a component of a much larger, more comprehensive set of beliefs. We don’t recommend that your exemption request be based solely on aborted fetal tissue (unless that is your only objection), unless you can word that argument very strong and thoroughly.
Use language from your religious texts to support your beliefs
This is not a requirement, but could help to strengthen your objection especially if you are coming up short on words. However, depending on your reviewer, this might not help as much as you think considering how many church leaders are pushing for vaccination. So use it or don’t use it, do what you feel is best for you.
For example, below are some ideas from various religions and texts that might be helpful in capturing your beliefs:
- The Holy Beard teaches that the body in its natural form is sacred and something to be cherished and protected. We are blessed with the ability to control what goes into our bodies and that should be taken very seriously. All should maintain a body free of foreign substances by always knowing the natural origins of the ingredients in your food, and by actively avoiding chemicals and artificial ingredients.
- The human body is a part of nature and should be maintained in a natural way through natural means. Only receiving modern medicine when in a state of crisis and all known natural medicines have been ineffective. Vaccinations inject foreign substances into the body in order to put the body into a state of illness. This is not a natural act, and the COVID-19 vaccines do not contain any natural virus, so there is absolutely nothing natural about it, and I cannot accept this vaccine.
- Buddhism teaches, among other things, that solutions to problems and obstacles lie within our own bodies and minds- ourselves- not outside of our selves.
- We believe a disease is a problem or an obstacle that must be resolved or overcome. The solution to this problem is a cure, or a successful resolution, to the disease, condition or physical crisis.
- The cure lies within our own bodies, our judgment or our family, The solution is not a vaccination from an outside source. Vaccination lies outside of the self. Clearly and absolutely, vaccines do not fit with the Buddhist religion and our personal translation of it.
- The Buddhist faith also teaches purity of the mind in order to eliminate, hate, greed and ignorance. We believe the purity of the mind cannot be achieved without purity of the body and for this reason we forgo vaccines. We recognize, through the interpretation of our Buddhism beliefs, that vaccines make the body impure.
The Book of Genesis states that G-d created man in His image. It is my belief that G-d
knew what He was doing and the body of many needs no ‘fixing’ by mankind. I see
vaccines as ‘fixing’ I cannot improve on G-d’s creation. Numerous religious scriptures
tell us we need to trust in G-d and His creation.
- “Honor the Lord with your bodies.” (1 Corinthians, 6:20).
- “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. (Luke 16:13)
- “If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His Commandments and keep all His statues, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you.” (Exodus 15:26)
- “God created us in his own image.” (Genesis 1:27)
- “So that your faith might not rest on human wisdom but on the power of God.” (1 Corinthians, 2:5)
- “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own. That God is in you. That he is our healer.” (Corinthians 6:19)
- “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.” -Jesus (Matthew 9:12)
- “When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician…” -Jesus (Mark 2:17)
- The first commandment of Jewish law is, “What does God expect from us?”
- We commit ourselves to answer that question with our own well-thought out answers. These answers are evident in all our actions, thoughts and decisions.
- Torah prohibits that we welcome foreign material into the body and this is precisely what vaccines are.
- I believe that it is a contradiction to fight a poison or disease that can or does enter the body with vaccination, which is disease. We believe this contradicts the teachings of the Jewish religion that mandates we keep our bodies and blood unpolluted and without contamination.
- I consider these injections to represent defilement of the body, blood and soul and the trust we have in the healing powers of God.
- I believe that a body addresses disease by a good mental spirit and prayer and maintaining the purity and cleanliness of both. I do not believe that the poisons and disease of vaccines are allies in the fight against disease.
- I believe that our faith is our strongest support system when the body is in crisis. I believe in the healing power of prayer.
- The Jewish religion dictates that man should not mix the blood of man and that of animals. It is well known that some vaccines are prepared using the tissue culture from animals. This directly contradicts the teachings of my faith as I see it.
- The Book of Genesis states that God created man in His image. It is my belief that God knew what He was doing and the body of man needs no ‘fixing’ by mankind. I see vaccines as ‘fixing’ I cannot improve on God’s creation. Numerous religious scripture tell us we need to trust in God and His creation.
You may/may not want to explain why vaccines are different than other medical
interventions that might be needed in a crisis for sick people. I see a clear difference between helping a body in crisis and addressing a healthy body with medical help or intervention. (Refer to past explanations) Generally speaking, if my body were in crisis, I would consider all the options and discuss what to do with my trusted physician/healer. I would also consult with the Bible, pray to God for help and guidance, consult with clergy and rely on the healing power of God to aid me. Whatever God sends my way, I will seek His help for solutions and guidance. And my decisions will adhere to my personal belief in God. I do not turn my back on all ‘modern’ medicine and its practices and philosophies. There is a significant difference between a body in crisis needing help and a body that is healthy accepting a medical procedure. I believe God would accept the former, He would not accept the latter.
You may/may not want to address the societal/institutional pressure to vaccinate as
conflicting with your beliefs in the Higher Law of God:
The medical establishment as well as most friends and family apply pressure and guilt to others in society to participate in the vaccination process. Modern society tells us that we can hurt ourselves and other people if we do not accept this vaccine into our bodies. Society tells us we jeopardize babies, old people and everyone in between, if we do not vaccinate. Without a medical background or specific scientific knowledge, it is difficult to comment on the truth to that assertion. But the point is moot because I am certain of this; God has communicated to me that to address my flawless, healthy, God-given body with the procedure of vaccination would be a sin against my conscience.
The vaccination process has always created a feeling of anxiety and discord for me. However, I buried these feelings deep inside of me because there is so much pressure in society to vaccinate from family, friends and medical professionals. I let all this pressure hide the instinctual feeling I had that vaccination was simply contradictory to my bond with God.
End with the Emphasis on your Personal Interpretation Component and Reassert your
Request for the Religious Exemption.
You need to affirm the fact that the law allows you to have a personal religious belief that
prohibits vaccination. This is the most important aspect of the law that enables virtually endless beliefs to fit squarely with the law.
The above is an explanation of my sincerely held personal religious beliefs. I hope I have
described them sufficiently. Again, these thoughts are the unique message I receive from my God. I don’t ask that you, or anyone else, agree with these thoughts and personal translations. But under the law, I respectfully request that they be honored as truthful and legally permissible. Based on what I have shared, I ask this religious exemption be approved.
Seeking More Suggestions?
These are just a few examples of justification statements, if these don’t quite work for you, that’s okay. Beardism is similar to Buddhism, so research Buddhist beliefs to get more ideas for statements that ring true for you.
We Support You!
Religious exemptions do not typically require a letter from an official clergy or recognized religious leader. However, Temple of the Holy Beard clergy would be happy to provide a letter to support a member’s sincerely held religious beliefs if requested. Although, we will only do so after meeting with you to discuss the details of your request, and those discussions have shown to support your sincerity. We will not lie for you!
The After Party
You know your employer better than I do, so take this next part with a grain of salt, as they say. The Holy Beard teaches us to always have a backup plan, and don’t block the exits… So, although you may not want to hear this… get yourself prepared for your request to be denied.
What will you do if your request for exception or accommodation is declined? Are you prepared to be fired for not taking that shot? Are you willing find a job with a different company which might be more inclined to honor your request? Or would you prefer to sacrifice your religious beliefs in order to become compliant or make your current employer happy? These are things that you need to consider and prepare for. The Temple of the Holy Beard is not encouraging you to go out and sacrifice your job… However, we will also NEVER tell you that you should sacrifice your religious beliefs.
As stated in What Is a Religious Belief?… Just because an influential person is on TV or social media saying that it’s okay to compromise your sincerely held beliefs, that doesn’t mean that you should. If you know down in your soul that something is right or wrong for you, that is the guidance that you should follow. As some would say, “follow your heart.” That is the true guidance. That is the real “Word of God.” If something doesn’t feel right, then it’s not right for you.
Prepare for the Worst, But Hope for the Best
I have found that when you prepare for the worst, then whatever happens is usually still better than what you envisioned. Regardless, The Holy Beard teaches us to always have multiple options available, and always know where the exits are. If you stand to lose your job if this request is denied, then you should update your resume and get active with applying for other jobs. Maybe take this as an opportunity to start your own business or join the family business. Or retire early if you can. If your request gets approved and you are able to accept their ‘accommodations’, then nothing has to change, but you updated your resume anyway. Which is still a good thing. Again, “Prepare for the Worst, but Hope for the Best.”
Leave a comment below to let us know what you think. Do you agree or disagree? Tell us about it.
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