Father sues New York to obtain religious vaccination exemption for son

vax-jesus-doctorAccording to the New York Daily News, a Staten Island father has sued the City and State of New York to block his four year old son from being tossed out of school because their parents refuse to vaccinate him:

A Staten Island father is suing the city and the state after his 4-year-old son was booted from pre-K class because of the parents’ objection to vaccines.

The father, identified only as P.R. in the lawsuit over the contentious issue, is a Catholic who had sought a religious exemption to the state law requiring that every child attending a public, private or parochial school must be immunized from 11 communicable diseases.

His son was removed from his public school classroom on Dec. 23 after city Department of Education officials rejected the father’s appeal of an earlier decision. The city concluded the paperwork he submitted “does not substantiate … that you hold genuine and sincere religious beliefs which are contrary to immunization,” according to the suit.

Last month, the city added a requirement that children under 5 who attend preschool or day care must get flu shots.

The boys’ parents filed an affidavit Monday stating they believe that “immunization demonstrates a great lack of faith in the gift of health and the promise of protection that we are given at birth and through baptism we put our child in the hands of the Lord … God wants us to put our faith for disease prevention in him exclusively.

In general, most states (actually all but Mississippi and West Virginia) allow religious exemptions to vaccinations. New York, however, has taken a tougher stance on religious exemptions placing the burden on the parent to show that the vaccination actually violates their religion and that their religion isn’t some invented belief system not based on any real religion. You merely have to read through a few antivaccination websites (no, I’m not going to point you to them), where they promote methods of circumventing vaccinations through fake religious exemptions. Other states, like New Mexico, have also started clamping down on religious vaccinations.

So why did the Department of Education reject the father’s exemption request? Well, because he was claiming that his Catholicism is opposed to vaccination. And some bogus unscientific belief that a nonexistent being in the sky will prevent disease. In fact, the evidence indicates even if there is a sky being, he (or she) doesn’t really care about human beings given the number of infectious disease out there. 

But what does the real Catholic church say about vaccinations? Well, they seem to indicate that they are absolutely in favor of vaccines. 

One must follow a certain conscience even if it errs, but there is a responsibility to inform one’s conscience properly. There would seem to be no proper grounds for refusing immunization against dangerous contagious disease, for example, rubella, especially in light of the concern that we should all have for the health of our children, public health, and the common good.

I may not think much of churches, but this statement should be the mantra of the pro-science world of vaccines–the moral choice is to vaccinate children for their own health but for the good of all people. 

So this antivaccination father, who seems to lack a knowledge of science AND religious doctrine, is wrong on so many levels. Let’s hope that the New York courts give him a lesson in reality.

I still remain strongly opposed to the religious exemption, because it has no place in this discussion. Public schools should not be required to make decisions about students involving religion, whether it’s prayers, teaching creationism, or whether someone’s religious belief (fake or otherwise) means they can send their unvaccinated children to a taxpayer supported school.

Public schools, as a state-supported entity, should remain blind to religion. Per the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, religion has no place in any government discussion; should we allow a Department of Health bureaucrat to determine the validity of a religious practice? Of course not. Therefore, no religious exemption should be allowed, and those individuals who wish to practice some religion that outrageously believes that the gift of vaccinations, which prevents deadly diseases, is somehow against their religion, can send their kids to a private school or home-school. 

And as I discussed last year, the rise in religious exemptions has lead to a concomitant increase in the pertussis infection rate in New York state. I would like to know what religion would ever intentionally put children at harm (disregarding the Catholic Church’s reprehensible behavior towards pedophile priests)?

Let me make this clear. The United States Constitution does not give vaccine deniers some religious protection to exempt their kids from being vaccinated. Now, the Supreme Court of the United States, which, in case someone has failed their civics class, has the power through judicial review, to interpret the constitution. And in the case of vaccinations, through decisions in Jacobson v. Massachusetts and Prince v. Massachusetts (1944), the Supreme Court has agreed that states have the power to protect the citizens from communicable states which supersedes religious “liberties,” especially fake religious beliefs. Good for vaccines. Good for children. Good for the community health.

Note: If you have a chance, please read the comments. There is a response from Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of Law, one of the leading legal experts on vaccination in the USA (and I’ll bet Israel). She disagrees with some of my opinions about how we should look at religious exemptions from a strict legal point of view. As I’ve mentioned before, I am not an attorney, let alone a constitutional and tort law expert, nor will I pretend to be one on the internet or this blog. I would defer to her legal opinion on this matter, though I stand by my personal opinion that religion has no role in this decision. If you want to send your kids to public school, which should never be involved in any religious decision (period, end of story), then vaccinate them (unless there a very specific medical reasons). Whether it is true or not, the subject of this blog post is trying to use a fake religious belief, unsupported by religious scholars of the Catholic Church, to not vaccinate his kids. Keep religion out of the question.

Use the Science-based Vaccine Search Engine.


The Original Skeptical Raptor
Chief Executive Officer at SkepticalRaptor
Lifetime lover of science, especially biomedical research. Spent years in academics, business development, research, and traveling the world shilling for Big Pharma. I love sports, mostly college basketball and football, hockey, and baseball. I enjoy great food and intelligent conversation. And a delicious morning coffee!

17 Replies to “Father sues New York to obtain religious vaccination exemption for son”

  1. I agree, NO religious exemption. But that’s ALL that is offered. But there MUST be exemptions simply because the right to privacy of one’s own body and/or your children’s body, and the right to informed consent and freedom from battery. This is NOT over, nor settled. Too many scientist who were part of and are now coming out of the vaccine industry are sounding out. Merck and Glaxso are being exposed along with the political entities they are in bed with for their corruption. Yes, and DON’T forget, NO ONE INJURED BY THESE vaccines, the viruses and added components can sue ANY of the vaccine makers. How utterly unjust and making rife for deceit & fraud & evil is that? Don’t tell me these scientists who were once part of the scheme and NOW becoming whistle-blowers ARE stupid and know nothing. Problem is, they’ve gained a conscience and are blowing the whistle unlike the entrenched industry in bed with Washington and the media. Why must parents sign an “informed consent” when there is NO ability to opt out? Why are they NOT given the very inserts that come with the vaccines they are given, but instead read the pablum you regurgitated in this piece . You either 1) One know the truth but refuse it because of greed and pride 2) Refuse to hear the truth, in order to know it, and choose to believe a lie Vaccinations are NOT an exact science and being applied unscientifically to all without regard to ANY variables. NO tests done to weed out genetic predispositions (too tedious to consider. much easier to sacrifice lives to the God of pride), NO real family history of vaccine injuries discussed at appointments. NO real understanding or informing patients of the many risks, and adverse events. In fact, most all I know were told to dose up with Tylenol before and after appointment thus masking any true reaction. NO real reporting and filing reports to CDC by doctors. This is all so insidiously evil. And those who parrot like you and most doctors who have simply swallowed the Kool-Aid and parrot the mantra and suck up to the drug manufacturers are just as evil. Look up Auto Immune Deficiency Disease. My child could have died because of the pablum I received and even after she had an encephalatic response to her first vaccine they continued with the pablum Even at two months when she licked a literal drop of milk off my finger and blew up in hives all over her body they continued the pablum. But as a mama bear. I KNEW they were no longer to be trusted. So I started digging. My only weapon against their threats was the religious exemption. It wasn’t until she was 16. My daughter requested her new Pediatrician to retest her for allergies. The urgent call we got was, “This girl’s 16. How is she still alive”. The reason the autoimmune diseases are on the rise are SO in your face clear. To be an honest scientist, one MUST consider how mass immunizations has exposed an entire population to many variables that in that same time autoimmunity has also risen to greater levels. To NOT consider this is disingenuous and leaves those like you suspect. By the way, she was alive because I was her mother and I knew what the doctors didn’t. Right on the spot, that new pediatrician wrote her a medical exemption. She cannot even be tine tested for TB. If I did NOT have that former religious exemption, I would have fled into hiding if I had to. There is GOING to be a fight. A BIG fight as this continues to heat up because the science is NOT so cut and dry as you want to parrot. So much is coming to light over the many years of corruption entrenched in this industry. We’ve ONLY seen the tip of the ice-berg.

    1. Do you know how hard it is to read this because of the lack of paragraph breaks? You obviously know how to write, so what’s the problem with paragraphs?

      No, there are not that many “scientists” coming out against vaccines. And if there were, where are they? No, three or four nut jobs (Diane Harper comes to mind) is not a trend. People whine about crap all the time. Since there are thousands of scientists involved in vaccine development, where are they. And if you claim “they’re bought out by Big Pharma,” then just STFU, and we’ll move on. Be logical or not.

      Yes, anyone can sue the vaccine makers in state court. BUT, the burden of evidence will be so high, there is no chance. The vaccine court allows claims even when there’s no science, just to be nice I suppose.

      I looked up autoimmune disease and vaccines in REAL medical journals. Nothing. In fact, in real research with real vaccines, the autoimmune rate is the same as the general population, which indicates that it’s not related.

      I don’t care about your anecdotal story. It has nothing to do with science, and it forms a part of confirmation and observation biases.

      I’m done. Bring evidence. You haven’t.

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