Maine Governor Must Honor Religious Exemptions for Shot Mandate

Aug 18, 2021

AUGUSTA, ME – Liberty Counsel sent a demand letter to Governor Janet Mills and health officials regarding the state’s attempt to remove religious exemptions and accommodations from unlawful COVID shot mandates for health care workers. Liberty Counsel is prepared to file a lawsuit if the governor does not respond and honor all federal protections and entitlements to accommodation for sincerely held religious beliefs by Friday, August 20, 2021.
On August 12, 2021, Governor Mills announced that Maine will now require health care workers to accept or receive one of the three, currently available COVID-19 shots to remain employed in the healthcare profession. This edict would force numerous doctors, nurses, medical professionals, and other health care workers to choose between the exercise of their sincerely held religious beliefs and their employment.
However, no individual in Maine should be forced to violate their religious convictions. In fact, the state and all private employers with more than 15 employees, are required by federal law to consider and grant meritorious religious exemptions. The governor and the state cannot override or nullify federal law. In addition, any employer who refuses to consider or grant religious exemptions violates federal law. Maine cannot override federal law, or the federal Constitution. Maine’s purported guidance and attempts to remove federal protections and even religious exemptions available under federal law is causing direct and irreparable harm.

All health care workers are protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act which does provide for religious exemptions and accommodations and mandates that employers provide them. Furthermore, COVID shots cannot be mandatory under Title VII. In general, employee vaccine religious exemption requests must be accommodated, where a reasonable accommodation exists without undue hardship to the employer, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Many people hold sincere religious beliefs against taking any vaccines, or taking those derived from aborted fetal cell lines, or taking those sold by companies that profit from the sale of vaccines and other products derived from abortion. Title VII, as amended, prohibits two categories of employment practices. It is unlawful for an employer: “(1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; or (2) to limit, segregate, or classify his employees or applicants for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” 

Further, all health care workers in Maine that are employed by the state also have protection for the exercise of their sincerely held religious beliefs under the First Amendment. These employees do not shed their constitutional rights upon entering government employment. Maine law provides a long-established common law right to all individuals to refuse unwanted medical care. 

None of the COVID shots are approved or licensed by the FDA. The COVID shots also cannot be mandatory under authorization of emergency use (EAU). On March 27, 2020, the Health and Human Services (HHS) declared that circumstances exist justifying the EUA of drugs and biological products for COVID-19. That means people must be told the risks and benefits, and they have the right to decline a medication that is not fully licensed. All of the COVID-19 shots (Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson) have received only EAU authorization and not full FDA approval. The federal Emergency Use Authorization law and the FDA, including the FDA Fact Sheet, state unequivocally that each person has the “option to accept or refuse” the shots. In addition to federal law, the FDA includes the Nuremberg Code and the Helsinki Declaration on its website, emphasizing the fact that people cannot be forced to take experimental drugs without their full consent. 

All Maine health care workers are encouraged to demand that their employers consider religious exemption requests. If any employer states that religious exemptions are not allowed, they should obtain that in writing and seek legal counsel immediately. 

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “The Maine governor cannot override federal law and force health care workers to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs and submit to an experimental injection. All Maine healthcare workers have the legal right to request reasonable accommodation for their sincerely held religious beliefs. To force COVID shots without exemptions is unlawful.” 

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