Religious Exemptions for Vaccines are Wrong
December 6, 2011
This morning I picked up the paper and saw a great pro-vax story on the front page. The article does a great job of covering the risks as well as the current situation with an alarming trend of rising exemptions. My only real gripe is that they do the standard opposing opinion crap where they give some uneducated idiot a platform to spread stupid.
“Many of the vaccines are unnecessary, and public health officials don’t honestly know” the effects of giving so many vaccines to such small children, said Jennifer Margulis, a mother of four and parenting book author in Ashland, Ore., a small liberal community that has unusually high vaccination exemption rates.
That’s right! She wrote a book! She must be qualified to ignore all of the doctors and medical professionals. I suppose the good news is that this little blurb was basically the only anti-vax bit and the credentials of the people promoting vaccination are considerably more impressive.
My real problem here is that there are two basic ways for a child to remain in school while refusing vaccines. The first is an exemption for health reasons and I completely agree with this one. It makes no damned sense to get a vaccine if the risks associated are legitimately higher than the risk of exposure to the disease. I see no reason to remove a child from school in that situation.
However, the second exemption is for religious reasons. Aside from the fact that it is being abused by people who aren’t under any religious prohibition of vaccines, the entire notion is completely absurd. I will even ignore how absurd religious prohibitions of vaccines are for the moment. Freedom of religion does not mean you get to scream religion every time you want to violate the rules. If you choose to ignore the rules for attendance at public school then you can also choose to send your child to a private school or home school them. It is that simple.
There is no reason that other children should have to bear the risk of the religious prohibitions of another child. This is absolutely forcing the consequences of their religious practices on everyone else in that school. This is precisely the type of thing that freedom of religion is meant to protect against.
What about this religious prohibition?
1 Tim 2:12 “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.”
It would be absolutely absurd to suggest that we should fire all of the women teachers so that this religious prohibition can be honored. If those parents refuse to allow a woman to teach their son then they are going to have to find a private school that agrees with their beliefs or start homeschooling. It should be no different with vaccines or any other religious exemption.
About the Author: Sean GillespieSean Gillespie is a Fort Hays State University graduate and is pursuing a Physics degree at Wichita State University while preparing for further graduate studies. He is the founder and President of Air Capital Skeptics.
The Course of Reason is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
CFI blog entries can be copied or distributed freely, provided:
- Credit is given to the Center for Inquiry and the individual blogger
- Either the entire entry is reproduced or an excerpt that is considered fair use
- The copying/distribution is for noncommercial purposes