Whether or not one supports the removal of religious exemptions to vaccination, the discussion about the issue should at least be accurate and honest. Sadly, agenda-driven hyperbole has hijacked the narrative in recent years, and oft-repeated mistruths have evolved to become widely-accepted dogma that may not be questioned. It is time to call out the “Emperor’s New Clothes” of our era and exposure these falsehoods one by one.
No major religion opposes vaccines.
False. Judaism prohibits current vaccine schedule for several reasons.1 The schedule is also a grave violation of the Seven Noahide Laws, a universal code for all humankind.2 The fact that it’s mandatory is an assault on the very concept of religion, i.e. that a human being is subordinate only to his/her Divine creator. In effect, there is no major world religion that does not support religious exemption.3 4
Vaccines are safe. The science is settled.
False. The Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that vaccines are “unavoidably unsafe.” The CDC delineates serious side-effects for every single vaccine. These risks are also disclosed by vaccine makers in each vaccine insert.
Vaccine policy is about keeping your child safe.
False. Vaccine policy is about state enforcing its policy, and has nothing to do with keeping my child safe. My six-year-old child is not at risk of catching Hepatitis B, for example, yet she cannot attend school due to this draconian policy even if she has received all other vaccines except for Hep-B.
Vaccine policy is all about ensuring herd immunity.
False. Vaccine policy is about state enforcing its policy, and not about any herd. Proof: Hepatitis B and tetanus are not contagious through casual contact, yet it’s on the schedule. Moreover, a child who is infected with Hep-B can even attend school.
Recent measles outbreak is a wake-up call to eliminate religious exemption.
False and deliberately misleading. States are threatening to eliminate religious exemption for the entire schedule, not just for measles. The “measles outbreak” is just fear-mongering. If this were truly about concern over measles, they’d be attempting to eliminate religious exemption for the measles vaccine only, and they’d make sure there was a vaccine for measles independent of mumps, rubella, and varicella.
It’s safer to vaccinate your child than to leave her unvaccinated.
Not necessarily. Your child has zero chance of catching polio here in the United States where the last wild variety case was in 1979, and the last imported case was in 1993. However, children are injured each year by the polio vaccine. 22 deaths reported to VAERS (which only reflects a small percentage of actual injuries and deaths) since 2010, and hundreds of injuries. Same with measles and other shots.
Risk from vaccine is less than risk from actual disease.
Not necessarily. 1,200 Americans caught measles this past year with not one single fatality, but deaths and injuries due to MMR vaccine are reported each year by VAERS.5 96 deaths due to MMR vaccine since 2003 and one or two deaths from actual measles.
False. Healthy unvaccinated child poses actual risk to no one. A child who is sick with contagious disease should be quarantined, whether s/he had been previously vaccinated or not. A healthy child presents no risk to anyone simply because s/he lacks immunity to a disease.
False. Measles was never eradicated. 86 cases in 2000 alone, the year it was declared eradicated!8 Measles will never be eradicated, since vaccine is only 93 percent effective and only provides temporary immunity. In fact, most teenagers have been found to lack immunity even after having two doses as a young child.
Increase in unvaccinated population will bring back dreaded diseases like polio.
Not necessarily. Polio was on the decline before vaccines were in use. Same with measles.
Whoever opposes the vaccine schedule is an ‘anti-vaxxer.’
False. There are plenty of parents who give some vaccinations but decline others for valid personal, religious or philosophical reasons. They cannot be called “anti-vaccine.” They are simply opposed to the mandatory schedule.
If you are writing this, you must be an ‘anti–vaxxer.’
False. You have no idea about my medical choices. Your assumption is simply a convenient means to evade these serious discussions via “guilt by association,” since you’re apparently too lazy or feeble-minded to critically examine my arguments. I am not opposed to vaccination. Instead, I am opposed to force-medicating people and to banning healthy children from school. Moreover, I object to group-think or “herd thinking,” such as you have demonstrated by your ad hominem rhetoric.
’Anti–vaxxers‘ are anti-science.
Wrong. People who choose not to vaccinate are not opposed to science, since science does not make moral judgments. It merely proves hypotheses based on empirical evidence. Even if scientists had indeed demonstrated that 95 percent vaccination rate ensures “herd immunity,” the decision to vaccinate is still a moral one. A religious Jew makes moral decisions based on Torah values, and “herd immunity” has no basis in Jewish law.
It’s reckless to not take available precautions to avoid contagious disease, so people who don’t vaccinate are reckless.
False. When is it irresponsible to not make use of an available precaution to illness? Only if a) the preventative measure entails no risk of its own, and b) it entails no violation of one’s personal, ethical, moral, philosophical values. Conversely, if the precaution carries its own risks, or if it is at odds with one’s religious (etc) beliefs, then it’s not recklessness, but a matter of personal choice.
Do you want to know what’s reckless? I’ll tell you: Banning 35,000 healthy children from school… that’s reckless! Trampling individual civil liberties, usurping bodily autonomy, violating religious freedoms… that is perilously reckless.
If the state’s democratically-elected legislature voted to eliminate religious exemption, then it’s lawful. That’s democracy at work.
Fact: nowhere in the U.S. Constitution or Bill of Rights does the word “democracy” appear. Our founding fathers rightfully feared democracy, which can well become a “dictatorship of the majority.” Hitler initially rose to power through democratic elections as well, as did Hamas. Our republic is based on immutable values enshrined in the Bill of Rights, not on whims of majority rule that may well be unlawful.
This article was reprinted with the author’s permission. It was originally published at Rabbi’s Blog. Michoel Green is a Jewish rabbi.References:
1 Deuteronomy 14:1 prohibits needle wounds if not for direct curative benefit for patient. Preventative benefit qualifies, but only if it prevents an actual risk of disease. It is dubious whether an STD like Hep-B or HPV poses any substantive risk to a young child, or to any orthodox Jewish child. Deuteronomy 4:15 prohibits exposing oneself to risk, even negligible risk, and even for the sake of a so-called herd. Avoda Zara 29b prohibits deriving benefit from human cadavers. Abortion is akin to murder, as per Genesis 9:6. It is forbidden to compensate a company for the abortions and live dissections of human beings that it committed by harvesting the fetal tissue for human cell lines in numerous vaccines. Purchasing vaccines that contain aborted fetal tissue is a violation of Leviticus 19:14, as it enables and encourages these companies to commit their heinous deeds.
2 Genesis 9:5 prohibits Noahides from self-inflicting wounds or exposing oneself to risk. Abortion is murder, as per ibid 9:6. A Noahide is prohibited from compensating a murderer. Rambam, Mishne Torah, Laws of Rotzeach 2:2. See Sheva Mitzvot HaShem by Rabbi Moshe Vainer, volume 1, page 58, regarding the precise prohibition of a Noahide of encouraging others to violate the Noahide Code.
3 The wording of this lie is particularly insidious, since it is deliberately deceptive: this discussion isn’t about the idea of vaccination in principle, but about forcing people to have all these specific vaccines. For example, one person’s religion might approve of the idea of vaccination in general, but might be opposed to a vaccine for an STD, or for diseases which no longer exist in the United States, like polio. Others might be opposed to vaccines under normal circumstances, but might agree to receive one during a time of outbreak. Yet others might have religious beliefs that preclude several vaccines due to aborted fetal DNA material extracted by live dissection, or because of excessive cruelty to animals, but might agree to general principle behind vaccination. So the statement “No religion opposes vaccination” is nothing more than a straw man meant to deflect and distract from the actual debate.
4 VAERS only reflects a small percentage of actual injuries and deaths.
7 Shulchan Aruch Harav, Orach Chaim 618:9.
8 CDC. Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases: The Pink Book: Course Textbook – 13th Edition (2015), Appendix E.
Thank you for a well written article. So many false perceptions about those of us who are vaccine cautious.
The biggest reason for religious exemption is as a follower of Christ, I stand for life. Vaccines used aborted baby parts in research and uses aborted baby cells in the vaccines. Watch Stanley Plotkin’s shocking and grievous testimony on YouTube. Read Deep Roots at Home Vaccine Guide as well as many others who have given horrific information regarding aborted babys and vaccines.
I agree with you Chari! I watched some, but read the whole deposition between Plotkin and the lawyer Aaron Siri…Mr. Siri did a brilliant job of exposing Plotkin!
Also, thank you so much for writing this much needed article. I pray God uses it to bring awareness and open the eyes of many. Blessings!
One of the best arguments regarding forced medical procedures I have yet read
“No major religion opposes vaccines.”
I don’t engage this argument because it’s irrelevant. The framers of our Constitution did NOT stipulate that religious beliefs only applied to certain organized, state-approved religions.Constitutionally, religious freedom pertains as much to individual beliefs as it does to organized religion. This precept was upheld, among other cases, in Arkansas’ McCarthy v. Boozman.
“No major religion opposes vaccines.”
I don’t engage this argument because it’s irrelevant. The framers of our Constitution did NOT stipulate that religious beliefs only applied to specific institutionalized, state-approved religions.Constitutionally, religious freedom pertains as much to individual beliefs as it does to organized religion. This precept was upheld, among other cases, in Arkansas’ McCarthy v. Boozman.
Michoel, I wish to thank you for your carefully elucidated article on what constitutes freedom of choice, and the cloudy way most people view vaccines and the government policies surrounding them.
My daughter lives in California, has 2 children, is a trained chiropractor, and does not agree with the schedule of vaccines. She has had difficulty finding a pediatrician who would allow her to have limited vaccine and a more spread out vaccine administration schedule. Thankfully she did find one, and it has benefited her boys.
Your careful explanation of the myths and false beliefs is much appreciated. May I share it with others?
Thank you, Lynn. My apologies for not replying sooner. I just started reading these comments today!
Of course you may share it. Please do.
I have written more on this topic, especially as it pertains to the Jewish community. You are welcome to search my blog westbororabbi.blogspot.com for more articles that might appeal to you. The blogposts that address religious and medical freedom vis-a-vis vaccination begin from about August 2019 and continue throughout the subsequent months.
WOW- and thank you. So well done.
I live in Maine and recently voted on whether the bill mandating vaccinations without exemption should be overturned. The woman at the desk told me, “Only one question on the ballet, for or against vaccines”! I objected, “No, it is for or against informed consent. I am always for the right to choose.” The propaganda in Maine to defeat this vote was overwhelming on all sides. Even Maine Public radio gave my adult daughter the idea that this vote concerned endangering all children with exposure to a deadly disease.
I found a few things you might want to update in the otherwise excellent article:
The links to the footnotes don’t seem to work.
It looks like there is a typo in the last sentence under “Risk from vaccine is less than risk from actual disease.” Is the number 596?
Also, under “Judaism requires vaccination, so Judaism can’t possibly recognize religious exemption,” who is the “he” being referenced?
“5” is a typo. It must have been a footnote that was omitted. The correct number is 96.
Regarding your second question, I think there must have been a typo there too. I think I was originally referring to some rabbi who claimed to speak for Judaism.
It is a slippery slope if laws are passed that require everyone to be vaccinated. I was recently refused as a patient by a doctor because I would not agree to be vaccinated.
Back in the 1970’s I read an article, published in a national magazine, about coming vaccines and the danger they posed to the public. The article stated that the public would eventually be controlled by vaccines containing tranquilizers.
Our government would not do that, right? Remember the black men in Alabama and other places who were intentionally given Syphilis?
We need to advocate for freedom of choice if we want to keep our rights.
WTF?….”vaccines containing tranquilizers”? That’s bordering on pure pseudoscience. Vaxxes & “tranquilizers” are 2 completely different things. Any dose of a “tranquilizer” that could be given in a single vaccination would quickly wear off and become ineffective, if it “worked” at all!….
Be very careful legislators!!
Taking away vaccine choice for children today. Losing vaccine choice for adults tomorrow. No vaccines – no Medicare or Social Security for you!!
Great use of the story/analogy — Emperors New Clothes!! It’s so true!! Hoping people will start waking up and recognizing this truth.
As a side note and mere personal preference, I’d like to see (and will wait to post on FB until…) another version of this article is written which collectively represents/summates ALL citizens’ foundations for resisting vaccines rather than posting this one which utilizes arguments primarily from Judaism (very good!! but I just think a broader approach will have a much greater impact on stimulating the public to think…).
Love this article. So much truth. I wish more people would take the time to understand the issues parents face when children can not receive a vaccine, when a parent feels the risk is not worth the shot, when they don’t choose the HPV & Flu vax bc of it’s severe side effects and death, when we oppose government mandating outdated vaccines…. I could go on about vaccine toxins and all the other disgusting things pharma use in vaccine ingredients, the fraudulent Pharma studies, the corruption & the strong arming between Big Pharma and government and the $$$ that’s used to sell our children.
I may be sending a copy of this our FORMER pediatrician, who writes on their website, that parents who don’t vaccinate their children are selfish!
I would another one to the list….the lie that vaccinated people cannot get disease or spread it….as disease has broken out in groups where everyone had the vaccine for the disease outbreak.
I love this. Thank you for responding to the accusations so succinctly. The truth will prevail.
BEWARE the (false) “Noahide Laws”. There is no such thing. They’re a dangerous fabrication and require death to “idolaters”.