Religious freedom includes deciding on vaccines, by Noah Feldman | Chroniclers



It follows that if I say that my conscience demands that I not be vaccinated, then no one else is able to tell me that my conscience is wrong, any more than the Catholic Church could tell Luther. that his conscience was wrong.

When it comes to my consciousness, it doesn’t matter if I thought something different last year or last week or 30 seconds ago. What I believe right now is what matters.

It doesn’t matter how I got to my belief. While it’s notoriously difficult to define consciousness, a classic definition, dating back to Saint Jerome, is that consciousness is that spark or spark or glow of the inner voice that tells me what’s right. The fact that I started out with an instinct about what to do, and that I only developed or discovered religious language later to justify that instinct, is not disqualifying. This is what the word consciousness has above all meant throughout its history.

People who first decide that they do not want to be vaccinated, and then search online for religious authorities who could support them, are not disqualified from rightfully claiming to be protected by freedom of conscience. They are doing what many before them have done – and exactly what religious freedom is supposed to protect.

At this point, you might be thinking, “What about someone who doesn’t believe in religion at all and just lies that they need a religious exemption? It may sound counterintuitive, but from a moral point of view, even the atheist who claims a religious exemption should be able to get it.

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