She should be preaching social responsibility, not how to bag a religious exemption
As a pastor and nursing home chaplain, I am strongly in favor of vaccine mandates. I was troubled to read about a student at my alma mater, the Boston University School of Theology, guiding others to dodge vaccination through dubious religious exemptions (“Religion and resistance: an antivax crusade,” Page A1, Sept. 19).
Christianity teaches care for the vulnerable and demands putting others’ needs ahead of our own desires. I held the hands of dozens of elders dying from COVID-19 in the early days of the pandemic; my colleagues and I wept with joy when pharmacists came to vaccinate us and the residents who survived.
Those who do not wish to be vaccinated need not invent religious excuses, as Cait Corrigan is helping them to do. Rather, they can choose to learn, work, and recreate in spaces where they will not put others’ lives at risk — or take on the light burden of regular testing. Corrigan and others misusing the tenets of their religions must examine their own consciences.
In the meantime, I will continue to preach a gospel of social responsibility and care for the vulnerable. I am grateful for the Boston University School of Theology’s part in teaching and equipping me to do so.
The Rev. Lindsay Popperson
Chaplain, Sherrill House
Just what are they teaching at BU School of Theology?
A 24-year-old graduate student in theology at Boston University is teaching others how to claim religious exemption from vaccination requirements. She says that vaccines cause blood to become “impure.” So, she and those she is tutoring would refuse rabies shots if bitten by a coyote? Would they refuse blood donations if badly injured, or Novocaine injections at the dentist? And in the event they fell ill with COVID-19, would they refuse the antibody treatment (also detailed in an article in last Sunday’s Globe) that many unvaccinated patients have sought to prevent deadly effects of the coronavirus?
What do they teach their divinity students over there at BU anyway — to ignore statements by churches? To increase the risk of harm and death for total strangers? To encourage others to deceive their employers? Are these actions those of Christians? Will the School of Theology ask this rigid young woman to answer any questions about all this?
Let’s revisit the Bible for a moment
What’s happened at Boston University’s acclaimed School of Theology?
In Cait Corrigan, the student “crafting” religious rationales for antivaxxers, it seems we have a self-described Christian who is not up on the Bible.
Right up front, in Genesis, after Cain kills brother Abel, and God comes along asking of Abel’s whereabouts, Cain wanly feigns annoyance and bleats, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
God’s reply, of course, thunders down through the Bible to the last jot of Revelation, building stone by stone the very the foundation of Western ethics and law. Not to mention Christianity.
William J. Eccleston
North Providence, R.I.
A calling, with a cost involved
Cait Corrigan is quoted as saying “I am called to do this, to support people and protect their right to bodily autonomy.”
When you are called by God to do something, it does not include charging people $25, or any amount, to attend online teach-ins.
Hmm, doesn’t sound very Buddhist to him
Kay Lazar’s article “Religion and resistance: an antivax crusade” stated that Cait Corrigan “describes her own faith as Christian, but strongly values Buddhist principles.” Corrigan’s teachings appear to be at odds with the historically communitarian values of the Boston University School of Theology. Her antivaccination stance also seems rooted more in American hyperindividualism than in Buddhist principles of interdependence. Perhaps, like Otto in the movie “A Fish Called Wanda,” she mistakenly believes that the central message of Buddhism is “Every man for himself.”
The writer is an associate professor of political science and legal studies at Suffolk University and has a master of divinity degree from the Boston University School of Theology.
In the law of religious accommodation, rights and duties must be in balance
The Globe, in “Religion and Resistance: an antivax crusade,” fails to provide the proper standard for assessing requests for religious accommodation in the employment context and unwittingly allows the antivax crusaders to shape the debate. Title VII does require employers to provide reasonable accommodations for sincerely held religious beliefs, but it also limits that duty to the extent any requested accommodation would impose an undue burden on the employer. In short, rights and duties must be in balance.
The Cloutier v. Costco case from 2004 in the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston articulates this legal balance. At some point, the cashier’s rigid insistence on displaying exposed piercings on her face created an undue burden for her employer, which had a right to its corporate image. Certainly, a safe and healthy workplace exceeds corporate image in importance and would tip the balance in favor of mandated vaccines, regardless of the “sincerely held” belief of the crusader.
Gratuitous mandates will fail when remote work is practical, but when presence on-site is required, letting a “sincere” antivaxxer on-site would be unduly burdensome.
Christopher T. Vrountas
The writer has been a lawyer for more than 30 years in the area of employment practice and litigation and has litigated a number of religious discrimination claims.
Medical exemptions, yes, but just say no to granting unwarranted religious exemptions
Are you more Catholic than the pope? Are you more religious than your rabbi or your imam?
Many thanks to the Globe editorial board (”Nearer my God to thee, but not to a COVID vaccine,” Sept. 21) for pointing out that there is basically no valid reason for any school or employer to grant a religious exemption to the COVID vaccine.
Faith values, across myriad religions, call on us to treat one another with respect and dignity and to love our neighbors as ourselves. There is no better way to honor these precepts right now than to get the vaccine.
Medical exemptions, if needed — yes — but, for the sake of all humanity, it’s time to just say no to unwarranted religious exemptions.
Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action