Once again John Gilmore brings us another brilliant editorial on the current body politic surrounding Vaccine Choice, Health & Religious Freedom in America today. Please donate to Autism Action Network today if you can – the work they are doing fighting for our rights is invaluable and irreplaceable. – Fed Up Dem
What is up with the Democrats repealing religious exemptions?
Democrats put religious liberties in “quotation marks”
WHEREAS, those most loudly claiming that morals, values, and patriotism must be defined by their particular religious views have used those religious views, with misplaced claims of “religious liberty,” to justify public policy that has threatened the civil rights and liberties of many Americans,…
Statements and resolutions by political parties rarely amount to much, and this statement does not appear to be directed specifically at religious exemption rights, but this one provides a chilling insight into how the Democrats currently regard the first freedom that Madison enumerated in the Bill of Rights. Especially when this declaration comes at a time when the Democrats are leading a national effort to repeal religious exemptions from vaccine mandates to attend school.
The idea that the individual, not the state, or the media, or political hacks, or religious organizations, is the ultimate decisionmaker about the key questions of life is a core American value. Those little quotation marks turn that idea upside down. It says, “We, not you, are the judge of what is an acceptable religious belief.”
Hostility and contempt for the religious beliefs and rights of others was a apparent in the successful effort by Assemblymember Jeffery Dinowitz to pass his bill in New York to repeal religious exemptions. Dinowitz described any religious belief that conflicts with any aspect of the vaccine program as “utter garbage.” A bevy of lawsuits are moving through the courts in New York challenging the repeal of the religious exemption. Attorney Michael Sussman of Children’s Health Defense has made the contempt and bigotry expressed by proponents in the legislature of the repeal a key issue in his lawsuit. He submitted more than 300 affidavits attesting to incidents of overt religious hostility expressed by legislators. Only 4 Republicans in the New York legislature voted for the repeal as opposed to 118 Democrats. We know where the problem lies.
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At the beginning of 2015 only two states, Mississippi and West Virginia, did not allow religious exemptions. Two states that most progressive Democrats would consider to be cultural and political backwaters. Yet a large chunk of the Democratic party looks to them now as a model for both public health laws and civil rights policy. Let that sink in, the Democratic party is now taking their cues on civil rights policy from Mississippi.
Forty-five states still have religious exemptions, 15 also have secular exemption rights. Since 2015 the Democrats have repealed religious exemptions in California, New York and Maine, states where they control both houses of the legislature and the Governor. They have introduced repeal bills in most of the states where they control all the levers of power. Repeal efforts were beaten back in New Mexico, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, but religious exemptions in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Jersey are under serious threat.
The repeal bills seem to be part of a greater trend by Democrats to support all things wanted by drug companies. The love affair with Pharma began in earnest early in the Obama administration when he cut a deal to let them do what they want as long as they supported the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Perhaps this also explains the inaction by Obama on the opioid epidemic. The Democrats now get more money from drug companies than the Republicans and have for some time. And the growing assault by the Democrats on religious beliefs coincides with flattening vaccine sales in the US as markets mature and resistance to the vaccine industry’s liability-free products grows.
Both parties are huge, loose ever shifting coalitions of many groups. Obviously, not all Democrats are opposed to religious liberties or religious exemptions, and not all Republicans support them. Michael Wear, the former outreach director to religious groups for the Obama administration, tweeted that the resolution was, “politically stupid, but also stupid on a fundamental level that transcends politics.” Not that long ago, vaccine rights and safety issues were considered issues of the left. Times change. But it simply a verifiable fact that the effort to repeal religious exemptions from vaccine mandates currently is a Democratic project, and the repeal bills they champion only succeed in states where Democrats have across the board political control. Democrats who care about these issues must be engaged to change the direction of the party. Republicans need to make sure that the GOP does not give in to the lure of drug company money and follow the Democrats down the rabbit hole. And those who do not identify with either party need to pressure both to protect our fundamental rights of conscience.