Writing a Religious Exemption for an Employer



If you’re going to submit a religious exemption, do your research, and do it right. There are things you should say and things you shouldn’t.

Under Federal law, religious beliefs are not limited to the doctrines of any organized religion. They are personal.

The Supreme Court has interpreted religion to mean a sincere and meaningful belief that occupies in the life of its possessor a place parallel to the place held by God in the lives of other persons. The religion or religious concept need not include belief in the existence of God or a supreme being to be within the scope of the First Amendment.

In 1964, Congress passed Public Law 88-352 (78 Stat. 241). The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

Religious beliefs are not tied to the stated beliefs of an organized or officially recognized faith.


Keep a paper trail. This will be useful if you have to defend your record, or need to file a lawsuit. It also puts the employer or school staff on notice that you are tracking details that could be used in a lawsuit. (That alone causes some to back off.)

Be very careful what you say about why you object to the vaccinewhat you’ve done in the past, and what you will do in exchange for employer accommodation.

Avoid phone or in person conversations. If you have a conversation, send a follow up email as soon as you return to your desk, stating what you understood from the conversation and asking for confirmation that you understood correctly.

DON’T QUIT! You want them to have to fire you. If they threaten your unemployment, remember that unemployment checks come from the state and the employer would have to show cause, in order to have it withheld.


THINK: Why are you submitting a religious exemption?

  • If you’ve used vaccines before, why are you not opting not to use one, or all, right now? You learned what’s in them (mRNA)? You’ve learned where the vaccines come from (cell lines derived from aborted fetuses)? Have your beliefs changed? You object to a particular vaccine, based on one of the points above?
  • Which specific beliefs require you to step back from this vaccine? You believe that you have a God-given stewardship over your body? You believe in personal agency? You believe that injecting substances into your body is counter to the wishes of your creator?
  • How would receipt of this injection impede your ability to practice your religion? Would it cause you to feel guilt that would distance you from your creator? Do you believe that your natural immune system functions best when unimpeded by chemical drugs? (If so, do you use other pharmaceutical drugs, recreational drugs, or substances that are potentially harmful to your body?). Be consistent.
  • If you say that you will not defile your body, they will ask you if you have piercings or tatoos or use injections or interventions of other kinds? Think through your responses.
  • Don’t say anything you can’t solidly defend.
  • Don’t argue science, safety, or refer to your organized religion–unless you can defend your choice, using doctrine and policies from your organized religion.
  • In response to direct questions about your organized religion, use the Supreme Court definition of religion and the text from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. (Both below.) Remember that the teachings of your organized religion are irrelevant here. This is personal.
  • Some questions are clearly not the business of the entity asking. Think about how you can respond without giving information you don’t want to give, using some of the material in this post.


  • A religious objection can be based on your personal religious beliefs–even if your organized religion teaches differently. (It is helpful if your state’s K-12 exemption is based on individual religious beliefs, rather than tied to the teachings of your denomination. This is true in Utah.)
  • Know what your religion teaches, because you may be able to apply it, but do not apply it if it could jeopardize your own claim to deeply held personal belief. (I would stick to Bible references if you belong to a church that specifically promotes vaccination.)
  • Include in your letter the Supreme Court Definition of Religious Belief: “The Supreme Court has interpreted religion to mean a sincere and meaningful belief that occupies in the life of its possessor a place parallel to the place held by God in the lives of other persons. The religion or religious concept need not include belief in the existence of God or a supreme being to be within the scope of the First Amendment.”
  • If you can tie your objection to scripture and/or doctrine, it’s helpful. But this is not a treatise.
  • Once you’ve claimed “religious exemption,” it does not need to be justified.
  • The Constitution says all religions are exempt, or no religion is exempt, but the state cannot pick and choose religions.

Analysis on the definition of “religious belief.”

“In addition, a belief does not need to be stated in traditional terms to fall within First Amendment protection. The Supreme Court has deliberately avoided establishing an exact or a narrow definition of religion because freedom of religion is a dynamic guarantee that was written in a manner to ensure flexibility and responsiveness to the passage of time and the development of the United States. Thus, religion is not limited to traditional denominations.”

“The First Amendment guarantee of freedom of religion has deeply rooted historical significance. Many of the colonists who founded the United States came to this continent to escape religious persecution and government oppression. This country’s founders advocated religious freedom and sought to prevent any one religion or group of religious organizations from dominating the government or imposing its will or beliefs on society as a whole. The revolutionary philosophy encompassed the principle that the interests of society are best served if individuals are free to form their own opinions and beliefs.”

“The Establishment Clause prohibits the government from interfering with individual religious beliefs. The government cannot enact laws aiding any religion or establishing an official state religion. The courts have interpreted the Establishment Clause to accomplish the separation of church and state on both the national and state levels of government.”(Religion legal definition of religion)

“Justice Brennan has observed: The constitutional mandate expresses a deliberate and considered judgment that [religious] matters are to be left to the conscience of the citizen and declares as a basic postulate of the relation between the citizen and his government that “the rights of conscience are, in their nature, of peculiar delicacy, and will little bear the gentlest touch of governmental hand… . Once we recognize that the concept of religious liberty entails protecting matters of conscience from government interference, it becomes clear that a constitutional definition of religion cannot be limited to the theistic religions recognized by the Framers, or even to a broader class of traditional religions. Such a rigid definition of religion would be inconsistent with the very concept of religious liberty.’ 5 Accordingly, any proposed constitutional definition should be broad and flexible enough to include changing concepts of religion, thereby protecting new and unorthodox religious beliefs.” (Defining Religion in the First Amendment: A Functional Approach)

“The Court departed from its earlier ideas of religion, centered around the orthodox belief in a Christian God, and instead held that the First Amendment: embraces the right to maintain theories of life and of death and of the hereafter which are rank heresy to followers of the orthodox faiths. Heresy trials are foreign to our Constitution. Men may believe what they cannot prove. They may not be put to the proof of their religious doctrines or beliefs. Religious experiences which are as real as life to some may be incomprehensible to others. Yet the fact that they may be beyond the ken of mortals does not mean that they can be made suspect before the law.

In effect, the Court conceded that a person can hold a sincere religious belief, deserving of the protections of the Religion Clauses, even if that belief is outside generally accepted orthodox ideas of religion. The Court formally abandoned its earlier explanations of religion which centered on Christian ideas of a “Maker” or “Creator,” and instead showed a new openness to religious ideas which seemed “incomprehensible” or outside the generally accepted norm. In addition, the Court recognized in its opinion that a person cannot be forced to prove their beliefs in a court because what may be unquestionably real to one person may be “incomprehensible” to another. In other words, the Court accepted that a person may hold valid religious ideas even without a basis other than personal conviction.”(DEFINING RELIGION UNDER THE FIRST AMENDMENT: AN ARGUMENT FOR ANCHORING A DEFINITION IN INJURY)Sample statement of personal belief: My deeply and sincerely held religious belief is that the injection of foreign substances into my body, the stewardship for which was granted to me by God, would violate my God-given stewardship. Knowing that I have violated this trust would jeopardize my connection with and ability to serve God.



Do NOT put this link in your exemption letter. But DO use the information there to help you properly state your objection. If your employer requests further information, I suggest you go to the article’s sources for each of the three U.S. shots.



  • You are, under Title VII, entitled to reasonable accommodation (medical; ADA; and religious accommodations).
  • The burden is on the employer to show that there is no way to reasonably accommodate.
  • Note that the COVID injection does not prevent spread.
  • If you work in a high risk environment (around bodily fluids and contagious illness) could you wear a mask instead? Could you do a self health check before coming to work? Could you submit regular spit tests? Do you have NATURAL IMMUNITY?
  • If you work from home and never go to an office, there is no reason not to recognize your exemption.

Be gracious and try to work with the employer, instead of against.


Sample statement of personal belief (write your own):

My deeply and sincerely held religious belief is that the injection of foreign substances into my body, the stewardship for which was granted to me by God, would violate my God-given stewardship. Knowing that I have violated this trust would jeopardize my connection with and ability to serve God.


Your concerns/beliefs may be very different from this statement. The important issue is that they are deeply held, personal beliefs. Remember no science, safety, and, unless you can defend it handily, no mention of your organized faith.

APPEAL and other INFORMATION (mostly for Federal Contract Employees and Military, but worth looking at if you’ve been denied.)

Critical information on employer mandates. religious exemptions, mission mandates, protocol for early out patient treatment, hospital, long haul, and other protocols. Please share widely.


  1. Thank you for this information. This site is great! I am a federal employee and I’m wondering if you have any special advice for federal employees seeking exemption.

  2. My childhood vaccinations made me sick, still had every childhood illness. I had a flue shot that made me more ill than the flu would have. I don’t trust the vaccinations for covid. I refuse to test the theory in my case. To many are dying from the vaccination.

    1. I got Bells Palsy from the floo shot. Never trusting any injection again!!!!

  3. Thank you kristen!

  4. Thank you for all of this information

    1. Thank you for this information it’s very helpful.

  5. You have mentioned all categories of exeptions except College and University exemptions. I have had a hard time finding where to submit a waiver or exemption letter or to whom it should be addressed. I can use the information you suggest for employer and religious/personal exemptions but it would be nice if you had something specifically for registration for this Spring semester at all the Universities and Colleges in Utah. I have 3 kids needing to continue their education and are having to choose between graduating on time (or at all), or getting the Covid-19 vaccine. Please help!!

    1. Utah State schools are required to accept religious, personal, and medical exemptions. I apologize for the delayed response. I did address this in my other piece on how to deal with employer and school mandates.
      Thank you.

  6. Thank you! I am a federal employee awaiting interview by a “panel” of individuals selected to review religious exemption requests. How their qualifications were determined is something I’d be interested in knowing!

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