We Hear You: When Authorities Use COVID-19 to Violate Rights

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Editor’s note: Americans’ rights during the pandemic are very much on the minds of The Daily Signal’s audience, judging by reaction to our related coverage on vaccine mandates. Check out these examples from the mailbag at [email protected]—Ken McIntyre

Dear Daily Signal: In light of the Supreme Court’s decision to block the vaccine mandate for private employers, the government action reported by Sarah Parshall Perry and GianCarlo Canaparo is completely nonsensical and should raise everyone’s ire (“Biden Administration Making Lists of Religious Vaccine Objectors“).

It has become painfully clear that the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate is unconstitutional, yet the Biden administration says to ignore the Supreme Court and is moving forward with collecting the names of religious objectors?

We are now in a police state and this does not hold water. This administration is a clear and present danger to what should be a constitutional republic.—Bill Wagner, Bellingham, Wash.

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Dear Daly Signal: As Sarah Parshall Perry and GianCarlo Canaparo shared in their article, the tiny Pretrial Services Agency will be “taking names” of federal employees who lodge a religious objection to the forced taking of a COVID-19 vaccine to remain employed. 

I visited the PSA website, and at the bottom was a link for the No Fear Act (formally the Notification and Federal Employee Anti-Discrimination and Retaliation Act). The purpose of the No Fear Act is increased agency accountability for acts of discrimination or reprisal against employees. 

If the Pretrial Services Agency is tasked with collecting the names of federal employees who file for a religious accommodation against Biden’s vaccine mandate, it appears the agency would be violating its own charge of nondiscrimination.

The Biden administration has shown itself to be the embodiment of intrigue and intimidation of the U.S. citizens it is supposed to serve. We see what they’re up to, and it is past time to put a stop to it.

Thank you for lifting the rock and shining a light on where the creatures hide. Keep exposing them.—Susan Murphy, Mobile, Ala.

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Dear Daily Signal: Thank you to GianCarlo Canaparo and Sarah Parshall Perry for shedding light on this threat to human, legal, and religious rights here in America (“18 More Federal Agencies Eye Making Vaccine Religious-Objector Lists“).

I am feeling more and more regret for voting in this president as we move forward. The policy to list law-abiding Americans who have committed no crime is reminiscent of Nazi Germany’s first steps toward the Holocaust.

Why would the president secure a law enforcement agency, the Pretrial Service Agency, to handle this “list” of Americans? The agency functions are as follows, according to the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs:

Pretrial services programs perform two crucial functions: Gathering and presenting information about newly arrested defendants and about available release options for use by a judicial officer in making decisions concerning a defendant’s pretrial custody or release status.

Will Americans be forced to wear “yellow stars” as was the case in the Holocaust? What’s next? 

This is an attack on America from within. I plan to share this article with family, friends, and colleagues. This policy must not move forward.—Carolyn Doveva Becker 

Dear Daily Signal: As a retired pastor and current Bible teacher, I have heard a lot about “faith-based” reasoning for not taking a COVID-19 vaccine. I am in full agreement that people have the right to choose whether to be vaccinated, yet I find absolutely no support in Scripture for refusing it due to “faith.”

The reasoning, as in this article, is not faith-based but personal and political, which is the right of every American.  However, to use God as a reason is simply inexcusable.

Now, I understand that some religious people truly believe that they’re refusing the vaccine because they believe that God will protect them. This reasoning is unbiblical and flawed. 

If God can protect them, then why fear the vaccine? As followers of Jesus Christ, we are commanded to be good citizens, which in this case would require that we do what we can to help our communities. Vaccinations can only help; they do not hurt.

Finally, some seem to believe that the vaccines were rolled out far too soon and are either flawed or poisonous. My answer to that is: God uses scientists and others to discover what he has created, so what makes it evil if he allowed them to discover it sooner rather than later?

If someone doesn’t want the vaccine for personal or political reasons, that is their right. However, it is wrong to blame God as their reasoning.—Rick Wolgamott, Myrtle Beach, S.C.

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I protest the establishment of this new records system in the Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia that will store the names and “personal religious information” of all employees who make “religious accommodation requests for religious exception from the federally mandated vaccination requirement.”

It is contrary to our Constitution and to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to keep records of the religious affiliation of citizens with no purpose stated. The policy should be struck down immediately.—Gail Parr-Forgacs, Venice, Fla.

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My sympathies are not with those who try to claim a “religious” exemption to vaccines that can and do save lives.  Nothing in Scripture justifies this attitude. 

Pope Francis himself advocates and implores Catholics to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Franklin Graham, a major Protestant leader, approves and advocates vaccination against COVID-19.  

Moreover, the COVID-19 vaccines are not the only ones that use, in some fashion, a decades-old fetal cell line. According to Nebraska Medicine, the vaccines for chickenpox, rabies, rubella, and hepatitis A also use these old fetal cell lines, which are kept alive by modern medicine to keep contemporary humans alive. That is pro-life!—George Shaw, Camarillo, Calif.

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At a minimum, this clearly is totally against liberties protected by the First Amendment.—Richard Fogdall

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I say: Too bad. I have no sympathy for those anti-vaxxers who use religion as an excuse. You are the problem now. Deal with it.—Michele Lerable 

Dear Daily Signal: That was a really good article by Sarah Parshall Perry and Paul Larkin Jr. analyzing the two Supreme Court’s rulings on the Biden administration’s vaccine mandates, but a couple of things are being missed by the public and need to be emphasized (“Unpacking Supreme Court Justices’ Reasoning in Vaccine Mandate Decisions“).

As Perry and Larkin pointed out, the Supreme Court decision in the first case, on the vaccine mandate for private employers, was a “stay” as opposed to a final ruling. The case will proceed in the appellate court. So this is far from the final word or chapter, yet most of the public is interpreting this as if it is.

Second, the reasoning used by the Supreme Court is rather disturbing. 

As Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts said: “The federal government has no business dictating the private and personal health care decisions of tens of millions of Americans, nor does it have the authority to coerce employers into collecting protected health care data on their employees.” 

In other words, these are unconstitutional acts by the Biden administration. But that is not the reasoning used by the Supreme Court.

The justices ruled that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration had not been given the authority by Congress to carry out this mandate. The inference is that if Congress had given OSHA this authority, the mandate would have been allowed.

That is a far cry from the principled, constitutional position that Heritage advocated.—Mark Simmons, San Jose, Calif.

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So is the Supreme Court saying we have socialized medicine and all health care workers are wards of the state with no freedom of choice?

From the time of the Magna Carta, even the kings have been held accountable, but we are peeling back history on this one. There still needs to be a reevaluation of the function, effects, and side effects of the vaccines by nongovernmental, apolitical medical authorities.                                       

Government-regulated health care is not health care. Trained doctors do not make your health care decisions,  insurance representatives do. They are directed by the politicized medical/business corporation, motivated by power and money.—Ronald Beougher 

A Grounded Airline Pilot

Dear Daily Signal: Regarding United Airlines pilot Sherry Jackson’s commentary, the tragedy of this stuff is partly because the COVID-19 vaccines seem impotent against the omicron variant (“I Lost My Job as United Pilot for Refusing Vaccine for Faith-Based Reasons“).

Firing people for not being vaxxed when a vaccine is becoming less effective daily is insane. The government needs to wise up and admit what they already know: that the vaccines were effective against the initial version of COVID-19, started to become less so with the delta variant as “breakthrough” cases started to rise, and has become marginally effective at best against omicron. 

The vaccines and the government abuse of power won some early battles, but are losing the war. They can develop updated vaccines, of course, but as this virus continues to mutate at a rapid pace, they will remain one step (or more) behind.

The American public will not tolerate booster shots every few weeks regardless of government mandates, nor should they. It’s time to switch the primary concentration to effective treatments.

By all means, allow research into a vaccine that might be effective against all strains of this virus. But like the common cold, that may be very elusive if even possible. Even the flu requires an annual shot, and that is tolerated because it is not mandatory.

By the way, my wife and I are fully vaxxed to the max. But we aren’t interested in being bullied by Biden at this point, and may well resist any further boosters.—Wayne Peterkin, Evangeline, La.

Dear Daily Signal: Because of the incessant fearmongering from the left, many of us are willing to give up our essential liberty just for the sake of a modicum of safety. But you see, that’s the beauty of fear.

The way the brain works when humans are confronted with a traumatic or fearful situation is that the connection between the reasoning part and the emotional part is temporarily broken so that we can react to the threat and get ourselves out of danger.

If we’re in the midst of an eminent and immediate threat, our brains need to work like that so we can get ourselves to safety. However, if we are kept in a perpetual state of fear, this means that we are not able to reason things out and we’re a lot easier to control.

If the powers that be can continue stoking the flames of fear, people will be willing to do anything and everything to make that feeling go away. This includes relinquishing our essential rights and liberties for the sake of safety.

Benjamin Franklin was a very wise man. He saw this concept at work even before the pioneers of psychology were able to wrap their minds around it. (“Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety,” Franklin wrote.)

The point is, we need to start waking up and doing our own research, not taking Wolf Blitzer’s word for it—or Sean Hannity’s, or any other political pundit’s—and do our own due diligence and research.

Armed with this knowledge, will be able to push back against those who want to use our fear to gain more and more control over our lives and our republic.—Eric Kielhorn, Norwich, Conn.

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As a “liberal,” I start from a bias in favor of any claim to liberty. When it comes to claims of exemption from compliance with vaccine mandates that are based on religious principles, I want to see the basis in Scripture or other source of religious injunctions. I saw no such basis in Sherry Jackson’s piece.—Dale Christophersen, Texas

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Good article. I agree with her.—Randal Mandock, Georgia

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Thank you for publishing Sherry Walker’s piece.—Lois Alexander, Grand Blanc, Mich.

And While We’re at It …

Dear Daily Signal: I have a few points that Sarah Parshall Perry might interject into future articles about members of the military requesting religious exemptions from the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates (“Court Delivers Win to Military Members Denied Religious Exemptions From Pentagon Vaccine Mandate.”)

When we took our oath to serve, we took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. At the end of our oath we state, “So help me God.”

God has had a presence in the U.S. military since its beginning, and our leaders seem to forget that. If the mandate is unconstitutional, then where do we fall, as soldiers who have sworn that oath?

I’d also like to point out that top military leaders tout the mandate as a matter of “readiness” under the illusion that if a soldier is vaccinated, he or she is ready to deploy in support of the U.S. This has, on multiple occasions, proven not to be the case.

The Navy, for example, was set to deploy the USS Milwaukee in December, yet its fully vaccinated crew had a COVID-19 outbreak and the ship had to quarantine at port for two weeks.

So regardless of whether service members are vaccinated, readiness cannot be used as a reason to push the mandate, due to the fact that even fully vaccinated service members can be sidelined by COVID-19. The vaccines are not always effective.—Levi Sena

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In response to the commentary by GianCarlo Canaparo and Hans von Spakovsky on racial discrimination by governments in treating COVID-19 (“It’s Illegal, Immoral, and Unconstitutional to Ration COVID-19 Treatments Based on Race“): This action is so wrong on so many levels!—Lynn Taylor

The Daily Signal publishes a variety of perspectives. Nothing written here is to be construed as representing the views of The Heritage Foundation.

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