Eight people have been fired from an Indiana hospital for refusing flu shots; these shots, apparently, were not mandatory until September. One nurse, with 22 years of service, ‘filed two medical exemptions, a religious exemption and two appeals, but they were all denied’, according to the article.
That ‘religious exemption’ caught my eye. I know there are some religions which don’t accept certain medical procedures, but I’ll be honest, I don’t know which ones say that preventive injections are verboten (I’m sure some of my readers could probably fill me in on that). So I was naturally curious as to which religion she appealed for an exemption (the article is silent on that).
Interestingly, however, is this bit of information:
[The hospital] announced the mandate in September. Of the hospital's 26,000 employees statewide, 95 percent complied. That means 1,300 employees did not comply, but only eight were fired.That’s odd, don’t you think? 1300 people are in non-compliance, yet only eight lost their jobs over it. I think it would be interesting to find out why those particular eight ended up with pink slips (particularly if it had to do with a ‘religious exemption’).
So we really still don’t know what kind of ‘religious’ we’re talking about; we can’t even be sure it’s really about religion even from the words of the attorney who’s going to be fighting this:
But still, Alan Phillips, who represented several nurses at the hospital, says his clients had the right to refuse their flu shots under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits religious discrimination of employees. Religion is legally broad under the First Amendment, so it could include any strongly held belief, he said, adding that the belief flu shots are bad should suffice.See what I mean? Mr. Phillips speaks of religious discrimination, then says that even believing the shots are bad could constitute a religious belief if held strongly enough.
Okay, I believe spiders are horrifying creations of Satan himself – that means (according to Mr. Phillips’ reasoning, if I’ve got it right) if I got a job which required me to enter a room or basement where there were spiders and I refused, I could (according to Mr. Phillips) refuse to on religious grounds.
See how that just doesn’t seem to work?
So, if this truly is a case of religious discrimination, it wouldn’t be the first, nor will it be the last.
If it turns out to be a case of ‘strong beliefs are religion’, then it won’t do anybody who is truly suffering religious persecution at all.