(By Michael Gryboski | Christian Post) – A federal government agency’s announced plan to keep track of employees who have refused on religious grounds to get vaccinated against COVID-19 has drawn concern from conservatives.
Earlier this week, the Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia announced the creation of the “Employee Religious Exception Request Information System.” The federal agency is responsible for supervising defendants awaiting trial in the District of Columbia and formulating release recommendations.
According to the announcement posted to the federal register Tuesday, the “Employee Religious Exception Request Information System” aims to maintain “personal religious information collected in response to religious accommodation requests for religious exception from the federally mandated vaccination requirement in the context of a public health emergency or similar health and safety incident.”
“The system of records will assist the Agency in the collection, storing, dissemination, and disposal of employee religious exemption request information collected and maintained by the Agency,” stated the announcement.
Public comments about the new system will be received until Feb. 10.
“This new system will be effective upon publication. New or modified routine uses will be effective February 10, 2022.”
The Daily Signal, an online news publication founded by the conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation, published an article Tuesday expressing concern over the new records system.
Sarah Parshall Perry and GianCarlo Canaparo, both legal fellows at Heritage’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, argued that the new system “will likely serve as a model for a whole-of-government push to assemble lists of Americans who object on religious grounds to a COVID-19 vaccine.”
“The announcement also does not say what the agency will do with this information after it has decided an employee’s religious accommodation request,” they wrote.
And neither does the announcement explain why the Biden administration chose to test this policy in an agency with a majority-black staff, who are both more religious and less vaccinated than other groups.”
Perry and Canaparo believe that President Joe Biden was “doing his best to win first place in subjecting Americans with sincerely held religious beliefs to differential treatment.”
“Take the Department of Defense, for example — which has failed to grant a single religious exemption on behalf of any service members requesting one for the federal vaccine mandate,” they continued.
“Biden voiced support for passage of the patently faith-hostile Equality Act—a bill that would gut the Religious Freedom Restoration Act entirely when it intersects with LGBTQ+ protections and entitlements in public accommodations.”
The announcement from the agency drew a response from Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who tweeted out the Daily Signal article and included the eyes emoji.
In recent months, as the federal government has moved to mandate COVID-19 vaccination in various ways, several individuals and groups have expressed religious liberty concerns. Read Full Article >