Citizens have the right to develop their own beliefs



For the publisher:
At the governor’s press conference on September 15, he was asked to respond to how the administration plans to tackle its recent legal defeat over health care worker vaccination warrants. [“Week LXXIX: Vaccination mandates encourage shots, stir resistance,” The Altamont Enterprise, Sept. 16, 2021].

His quote was, “I’m not aware of a sanctioned religious exemption… Everyone, from the Pope down to the bottom, encourages their members to get vaccinated.

This declaration is a blatant attack on the rights established by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. The freedom of religion granted to American citizens by this First Amendment is not limited to statements by an individual representing a religious group.

It is ignorant to lump all religions and beliefs together in one man’s statement and even more ignorant to claim that there is a hierarchy which must be followed by all other believers. Citizens have the right to develop their own beliefs and to determine the moral code they will follow through their faith, regardless of the size or brevity of their congregation.

Moreover, the government is not a deity and it is never for it to determine what constitutes or not a religious belief.

The government has no right to circumvent this freedom of religion for any reason. Statements regarding this term should be seen as a waiver of the oath of office that Governor Hochul took, where she said she would uphold the Constitution of the United States.

How this debate is resolved is unknown and the vaccine may turn out to be the right thing to do in history. However, if religious rights are set aside here, the First Amendment might as well be repealed.

Mandates and coercion are never the right way to govern. Our elected officials must find new ways to connect with all of their constituents and continue to function within the confines of the constitutions they have agreed to follow.

Christophe Longo


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