Letter: Sincere religious beliefs can be made up, according to Lauer

    From: Lee Shipman


    After reading excerpts from House Bill 1001 (co-authored by Rep. Ryan Lauer) from the December 15 Republic, it is clear to me that from Rep. Lauer’s perspective, someone’s sincere religious beliefs can be nothing more than something made up to get themselves out of a rule or legal requirement that would require them to do or avoid them from doing anything. All one has to say is, “I have a religious exception”. No formal conviction necessary, as evidenced from the following excerpt from the bill noted in the Republic:

    “An application for exemption on religious grounds, however, would require only that an employee present a statement that the employee declines the vaccine ‘because of a sincerely held religious belief.’ The employee would not have to state the religion or provide any details, including evidence that the belief is sincerely held.”

    I say why stop at the COVID vaccine? Why not have a religious out clause for everything? I ask this because Rep. Lauer later said in the article that, “he believes Hoosiers have a constitutional right of individual freedom which must be respected,” and goes further by stating, “No employee should be placed in a position to choose between their job and not taking a vaccine because it would violate their religious beliefs or for legitimate medical reasons.”

    It is worth noting that only medical reasons need to be legitimate, again from the Republic article:

    “Under the bill, an application for a medical exemption from a vaccine mandate would require a note from a physician, physician’s assistant or advanced practice nurse who has examined the employee and has concluded that the vaccine would be medically unsound for that person.”

    You can’t just say that you have a medical objection, you legitimately have to have one. Evidentially, with respect to religion, legitimacy is not a factor.

    Right now, Indiana ranks an embarrassing 43rd in the nation for vaccination acceptance. This legislation does nothing to improve on that ranking. In fact it further polarizes Hoosiers with respect to the vaccine. Why not spend all the political energy convincing Hoosiers to get the vaccine instead of working hard to further divide the electorate?

    The worst part of this bill? It can be completely passed without any Democratic input, the unfortunate consequence of a gerrymandered supermajority.

    Rep. Lauer has a lot of work to do to gain my vote for 2022 with support for bills like this, the political redrawing of districts, and his trip to Arizona to validate Trump’s big lie.