Pastor Brant Bosserman provided members of his congregation with a letter to employers requesting a religious exemption to possible COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Knowing this may be a scenario many Christians face in coming months, Rev. Dr. Bosserman has made his pastoral letter available to others, to serve as a template on how and why such an exemption can be requested.
Today the Food and Drug Administration granted full approval to the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19. In the lead-up to that news, US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said such an approval will likely increase vaccine requirements—especially in places of business and educational institutions. Not unexpectedly, the societal discussion around this topic has been extremely contentious, and there are sincerely held and well-informed opinions on both ends of the spectrum about whether or not to get the COVID-19 vaccination.
That discussion may take a new turn if policies begin rendering the vaccine mandatory. In arguing the Bill of Rights before the first session of Congress, James Madison asserted that the “rights of conscience” is something for which “the people in America are most alarmed.” What was civilly true of our founding has, for a long time, been religiously true too. The Protestant and Presbyterian tradition to which I belong has valued the liberty of conscience both in society and within the church. We value this because it is an important and distinct teaching of the Holy Scriptures (see Liberty of Conscience: The History of a Puritan Idea by L. John Van Til). As citizens of this nation, and more importantly as Christians many will need to determine in the days ahead whether they will get the vaccine if business or institutions make than mandatory. As we do, we must leave room for disagreement and in the spirit of Christian charity, we must be content to let others act according to their own conscience as we all seek to inform and be informed.
Recently, Pastor Brant Bosserman – a pastor in the PCA, adjunct professor of philosophy at Northwest University, and a guest contributor to Gentle Reformation—provided members of his congregation with a letter to employers requesting a religious exemption to possible COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Knowing this may be a scenario many Christians face in coming months, Rev. Dr. Bosserman has made his pastoral letter available to others, to serve as a template on how and why such an exemption can be requested. I offer it here acknowledging that not everyone will agree with the need for such a request, but also recognizing each Christian’s right to sincerely hold their religious convictions.
In my capacity as a Minister in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), I am writing on behalf of ________________________ to ask that his/her religious exemption from receiving Covid-19 vaccination be honored by your organization.