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Religious persecution watch

Hospital workers and nurses in a Goshen, Indiana medical center are being forced to get a flu vaccine or else. One hospital fired eight, including three nurses, at least one of whom says she objected to the vaccine on religious grounds. ABC News reports:

Ethel Hoover wore all black on her last day of work as a nurse in the critical care unit at Indiana University Health Goshen Hospital. She said she was in "mourning" because she would have been at the hospital 22 years in February, and she's only called out of work four or five times in her whole career , she said."This is my body. I have a right to refuse the flu vaccine," Hoover, 61, told "For 21 years, I have religiously not taken the flu vaccine, and now you're telling me that I believe in it."More than 15,100 flu cases have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention since Sept. 30, including 16 pediatric deaths. Indiana's flu activity level is considered high, according to the CDC, which last month announced that the flu season came a month earlier than usual.

Hoover's lawyer, Alan Phillips, says his client had the right to refuse her flu shot under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits religious discrimination of employees. Hoover and some of the others are Mennonites, but Phillips said religion could include any strongly held belief, and that the belief flu shots are bad should suffice."If your personal beliefs are religious in nature, then they are a protected belief," Phillips said.From the HuffPo roundup of the story:

According to UPI, a total of 26 employees filed for an exemption from the mandatory flu vaccination. Eleven appeals were granted along religious lines, and several more employees were exempted because they faced the possibility of a severe allergic reaction to the vaccine.The employees who were ultimately fired did not fit the criteria for religious protection as established by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, according to the hospital."If it were religious beliefs as defined by the EEOC, they would not have been terminated," explained McDonald to UPI. "Sometimes there can be a little bit of gray area, and people who have very personally-held religious beliefs will present those as religious opportunities for exemption."

Yes, there's no medical reason not to get the vaccine, and it is designed to protect the health of the patients these people have vowed to serve. But religious freedom trumps everything, as we have been often and loudly reminded, and yet our Nazi-Stalinist State continues to trample on the conscience of believers. Why won't we rise up? It's mind-boggling. Right?

About the Author

David Gibson is a national reporter for Religion News Service and author of The Coming Catholic Church (HarperOne) and The Rule of Benedict (HarperOne). He blogs at dotCommonweal.



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"Do you hear the people sing?' To the barricades!The sarcasm is well founded. this thicket of issues around immunizations and "religious objections" is only going to intensify. If my Wiccan friends object to a PPD on the basis that they can treat TB naturally and not spread it should they ever have any symptoms before being hired for a non-patient contact position at the business office of a large health facility, should that be respected? Civil libertarians and canon lawyers -- as well as attorneys'- opinions are welocome!

It seems to me thee are several issues here:1, whether or not the woman has a *religious* objection to the vaccine2. whether or not the woman has a non-religious right to object to the vaccie2. whether or not the vaccine is in fact effective at preventing the fluAs to 1, it seems to me that her claim simply is not a religious claim at all. It might be deeply held, but that alone doesn't make it religious.ISTM her claim is, rather, a claim under the right-to-life cause. That is, she is claiming that the vaccine would be life-threatening to her, and so she has a right to refuse it under the right-to-life clause.That being the case, the question then becomes 3. -- whether or not the vaccine is in fact effective or not. This is an epistemological question -- how does she or anyone *know* that the vaccine is lethal or not? She is ultimately challenging the scientific method, an established good which I cannot see the court abandoning for the sake of one person's right to disagree with the scientists. We have a right to be wrong, but not if it affects other people's health seriously. the criteria for religious protection as established by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission...If I'm not mistaken, this is the same governmental commission which was slapped down by the Supreme Court in Hosanna-Tabor earlier this year for its views on religious protections - actually its lack of religious protectionsAnd the connection between this woman getting the vaccine and patient's health is, at best, tenuous. After all, I highly doubt that the hospital restricts visitors or others (probably including her doctors) to only those who have had the flu vaccine. [

Ann, and these employee rights are weighed against the rights of the patients:1. not to be needlessly exposed to contagious disease. The anti-vaccine people are all true believers who are not going to let mere scientific evidence get in the way of their cause, no matter how much that evidence comes out in support of vaccines.

David G - unless you are positing that being pregnant is akin to carrying a contagious disease, the parallel doesn't seem very apt in this case.Regarding the case at hand: let's start by recalling that religious freedom rights aren't absolute, so the hospital isn't prima facie out of line in expecting its employess to abide by the policy. The way I'd approach it is to look at the relative risk to vulnerable patients. We can all agree that a person with the appropriate vaccine has taken prudent precautions to make the risk of carrying the contagious disease as low as she reasonably can. What is the comparative risk for someone who doesn't take the vaccine? My own completely non-scientific observation is that, among people who don't get the flu shot every year, the risk of getting the flu is probably still less than 50%. How high is too high a risk? I dunno. What if it's only 20% Or 5%? (This is starting to sound like that Old Testament reading in which Abraham negotiates with God to spare Sodom).There are also risks associated with getting the vaccine (as there are risks with any medical procedure). Could a nurse refuse the vaccine, not on religious-liberty grounds, but on medical-risk grounds? Isn't that the reason that medical personnel inform us of risks before obtaining our consent?

I took an interesting online course at Coursera (which is free) on the History of Vaccines, if people want to freshen up on how vaccines work and which ones have side effects and which don't and why. The online community was fascinating, too, with really knowledgeable people (and some really not).

Bruce: The connection to patient health is not tenuous. Hospital employees are the ones who have repeated contact with many patients. Vaccines prevent employees from picking up the virus from one patient or visitor and passing it on to many others. It doesn't take many unvaccinated persons dramatically increase the chances of the disease spreading. The hospital can't control whether patients and visitors are vaccinated, but it can control whether its employees are.

I agree with "Cupcake." Patients rights supersede worker's rights. What kind of nurse does not believe in flu shots. She is entitled to her opinion but not to endanger patients. The visitor question is not relevant. The nurse is a constant presence to patients and therefore potentially dangerous. How many times have we heard a person getting an infection by going to the hospital.

Cupcake and Bill - consider the following1) Preliminary data for the 2010-2011 influenza season indicate that influenza vaccine effectiveness was about 60% for all age groups combined, and that almost all influenza viruses isolated from study participants were well-matched to the vaccine strains (Unpublished CDC data).2) How well the flu vaccine works (or its ability to prevent influenza illness) can range widely from season to season and also can vary depending on who is being vaccinated. At least two factors play an important role in determining the likelihood that influenza vaccine will protect a person from influenza illness: 1) characteristics of the person being vaccinated (such as their age and health), and 2) the similarity or "match" between the influenza viruses in the vaccine and those spreading in the community. During years when the viruses in the vaccine and circulating viruses are not well matched, its possible that no benefit from vaccination may be observed. During years when the viruses in the vaccine and circulating viruses are very well matched, its possible to measure substantial benefits from vaccination in terms of preventing influenza illness. However, even during years when the vaccine match is very good, the benefits of vaccination will vary across the population, depending on characteristics of the person being vaccinated and even, potentially, which vaccine was used.3) The infections you hear about people getting in the hospital are from bacteria in the hospital and those bacteria are no longer killed by antibiotics. The flu is a virus and always has been unaffected by antibiotics.More info here

Bruce- That same CDC recommends everyone over 6 months get the flu shot especially People who are at high risk of developing serious complications like pneumonia if they get sick with the flu. This includes: People who have certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease. Pregnant women. People 65 years and older People who live with or care for others who are high risk of developing serious complications.

It is not clear cut that the vaccine is safe and effective.There are biologists who believe that there is empirical evidence that these vaccines are neither safe or effective. That we have the centers for disease control pushing them on us and that the media never fails to support the government view [after putting up straw men then knocking them down to "prove" that the anti vaccine position is not valid]on vaccines does not mean they are correct.Check our Gary Null and you'll find a credible scientific debunking of the safety and efficacy of the flu vaccine and other vaccines. Scientific prevailing beliefs have in the past proven to be inaccurate and those who challenged the prevailing scientific knowledge and were labeled quacks or unscientific have been proven right.Having a consensus by the medical or governemnt/media establishment does not necessarily mean it is accurate. There is alot that can ride on having to persist in a certain belief.[money,ego, fear that if the challengers to the status quo are correct then perhaps alot of people have gotten sick due to error].That people who are very relunctant to take pharmaceutical drugs when sick and have an almost neurotic need to know every detail about every food they eat, for the sake of their health- when it comes to vaccines -are so willing and eager-to get their shots as soon as the governemnt/media tells them to do so-shows the power of government/media indoctrination.The infections people get in hospitals are due to the germs that immunocompromised sick people are prone to getting- from the hospital itself[on surfaces as well as from other patients, nurses, visitors as well as from their initial condition.]A nurse who has the flu should not be working with sick people. Not having the flu and not getting the vaccine does not spread the flu.!Not washing your hands may spread germs but not getting a flu shot does not!Getting the flu shot then coming down with a "side effect"[a mild case of the flu-the pro vaccinators call it] is exactly how a nurse COULD spread the flu to her patients!Of course the reality is that if a visitor has the flu the visitor can pass it on to patients-and nurses. So to push the vaccine on the nurses then allow non vaccinated visitors- to be with patients shows that their scheme is just the result of a knee jerk pro vaccine ideology.They're willing to drop their own ball and allow non vaccinated visitors exposes how bogus the scheme is.

More distressing to me even than irresponsible health care workers are those parents who refuse to vaccinate their children. I don't think they have a right to do that and I most definitely don't think they should be permitted to send their children to school and put other children at risk of illness. There is an extreme selfishness at play there.

It's not selfishness Irene-but a belief that the vaccines harm children and that vaccinations actually in many cases cause outbreaks of the disease they are suppossed to be containing.When there is a disease outbreak and it turns out that the outbreak-in a school or town ,say- is where people have indeed been vaccinated-then the pro vaccinators answer is to claim they need more booster shots.The fact that the vaccinated populations caused the outbreak among non vaccinated [as well as vaccinated] people is something they just sweep under the rug and if you bring it up -you're ignorant of the science,they claim.Checkout Gary Null -and get informed people!Whether you agree with anti vaccine parents-and the many scientists who make those claims-or not ,to dismiss the anti vaccine parents as selfish -is a false narrative about them.Part of a propaganda campagn to villify opponents of vaccines and to push them on us.

I think those people who refuse to vaccinate their children, if they thought for a second their child might get polio, diptheria and all of the other horrible diseases, they would absolutely get their children vaccinated.They count on all of the rest of us to vaccinate our kids, thinking that this will prevent their own children from being exposed; but really, they're just putting everyone's children at risk. Selfish. And misinformed. I've lived in places where children sickened and die from these preventable diseases. The vaccine is much, much less risky than the diseases no matter what the conspiracy theorists say.

Smallpox just didn't go away by itself.

You're right Irene,small pox -which did kill millions of people throughout history was indeed eradicated by the small pox vaccine.I did not mention it because we don't hear of small pox any more. That was a real success story.That was a real vaccine. One dose and you were immune for life and when enough people got their dose the disease was wiped off the face of the earth.[herd immunity].[Though I'm sure there are stockpiles of the virus in military labs somewhere!]The small pox vaccine was truly great medicine at work. These other vaccines-with their booster shots are not real vaccines .They require miltiple doses which means there is no sure match or potency.They end up causing the disease and outbreaks where otherwise there would not be.[these diseases are cyclical].They also cause other diseases and neurological problems.AIDS crossed the species barrier[from monkeys to humans] via the hepatitis b vaccine which used [infected with hiv] monkey tissue to make that vaccine. And who got that hepatitis b vaccine? Gay men who tended to get hepatitis frequently. So too empoverished africans!.That is why AIDS started in africa and was seen there and among gay men in san francisco first- places where that hepatitis b vaccine was given.That is the tip of the iceberg regarding dangerous vaccines. Check out Gary Null for in depth critique based on scientific evidence.

Irene, you are right about parents refusing to vaccinate their children. But thats a completely different issue than the flu vaccine. Smallpox, for example, has a mortality rate of 35% (it kills 35% of those who contract it) and the vaccine in 95% effective. I completely disagree with rose-ellen about the safety and efficacy virtually all other vaccines which are effective, safe, and prevent bad outcomes. The flu vaccine is safe, but the mortality rate from flu is very low and its effective rate is also much lower. Its a completely different 'kettle of fish'.

The flu vaccine is not a live virus - it does not cause flu or flu outbreaks. Spreading untrue stories about vaccines that discourage people from getting vaccines results in people getting sick and kids dying of preventable diseases.

The fact that an admitted "side effect" of the flu vaccine is a mild case of- the flu-means that vaccinnated nurses are walking about spreading the flu to their patients.Whether a case is mild or not -it is still the flu. What remains mild for one otherwise healthy person can become for an already sick patient a severe case of the flu.People should be discouraged from getting these dangerous vaccines which cause outbreaks of the said disease as well as other diseases.One day the truth will out.Though in principal vaccines can be safe and effective way to eradicate dangerous diseases[smallpox]-the reality is that most vaccines today do neither. They're phony vaccines-requiring more then one dose -causing outbreaks in both vaccinnated and un vaccinated populations. Good that finally people are not taking the government/media /medical establishments' word for everything any more.

One persons untrue stories is another persons suppressed facts.Claiming that discouraging vaccines causes the death of children-is a tried and true tactic used by the establishemnt and their gulls to shut down dissent.Check out Gary Null and you'll find medical literature that explains the anti vaccine position . Sometimes the truth seeps out in the most unusual places -however. Remember Michelle Bachmann and all the bruh ha ha when she innocently and correctly asserted that the uterine cancer vaccine being given to children actually caused their cancer and deaths.Boy did that cause the medical/media establishment and their gulls to vilify her.As an aside but actually related to how the medical establishment have a one track mind regarding the promotion of vaccines;years ago when my child was a toddler she developed a high fever one day. I took her to the pediatrician and the only thing the pediatrician was concerned with was giving my fevered child her vaccine. I said now is not the time for a vaccine when her fever is so high, I left and took her to the emergency room where they had to bring down her fever [with anti biotics,fluids and cold water]and told me that had I waited much longer to get her there she would have died from the high fever. Thank God I did not listen to this vaccine obsessed pediatrician-that day!

rose-ellen --How come when I was a child, before there was a polio vaccine, I knew people who had had the disease, but now, since the vaccine, I don't know anyone who has caught it? In other words, polio used to be rather common, but now it isn't. How come?

I repeat, it's not a live vaccine, so you can't give the flu to anyone from being vaccinated. You just can't. Get the facts, not just a thought from someone who has concluded that vaccines are bad because of their fear of science or of government information.

Because polio - like other infectious diseases is cyclical.And because if truth be told-we are now finding out[even in mainstream media]that many who were said to have polio -in fact may have had other diseases-not polio.We were told during the polio epidemic-that polio was rampant-when it was not.[unlike small pox which was rampant].This was part of the one track mindset that with hindsight we can now evaluate critically. That is how science advances actually. I'm not an expert but if you will check out experts in the field-Gary Null-you can get the scientific analysis that supports the anti -vaccine claim. Go to the source of those making the claim-before you denounce them.That's only fair-I think.The anti vaccine claim does not just come from parents who the establishment easily labels as hysterics[when their children get sick after vaccines].There is actually an anti vaccine claim made by anti establisment scientists and physicians.Though they will be denounced by the establishment [medical/media /governemnt] they exist. That we have 3 nurses oppossing vaccines is a break in the ice.No one can claim that nurses are simply hysterical mothers reacting to having a sick child.

Would that be the same Gary Null who claims that coffee enemas are a cure for cancer? The Gary Null who denies the links between HIV and AIDs, and who claims that the virus is not transmitted sexually? The Gary Null who has no medical degree? The Gary Null who almost poisoned himself to death when he ate one of his own diet supplements? I can only assume that you have a different Gary Null in mind, since you keep referring to him as an expert in the field.And those nurses you mention aren't basing their opposition to the vaccine on scientific grounds, but rather ideas that basically boil down to "the way God made us."

Well if that is the basis of the nurses objections-then I stand corrected about them.Gary Null had the wrong dose in his supplement and got poisnoned. A mistake.Gary Null has more medical knowledge then most physicians and physicians go to him for medical advice.Check out what he says himself-rather then listening to his detractors [gary,also the progressiuve radio network]. And the fact that they bring up the trope of his accidental posoning tells you they are dishonest.Mistakes happen in hospitals and by doctors too. And it is a mistake to believe these vaccines are safe and effective.He does not claim to cure cancers with enemas and yes he has questions about the established narrative about hiv/aids.I do not agree with him on everything but I do about most things especially his debunking of the safety and efficacy of vaccines and about his debunking of the safety and efficacy of psychotropic drugs and the whole mental health establishment. He does not have a medical degree. That does not mean he is not knowledgable about medicine.He knows more then most doctors .He's ahead of the medical estblishment though he is the first to laud the medical establishment when it comes to emergency medicine.Chronic illnesses, drug therapies, psychiatry and preventive medicine is where they fail us-he claims.He said the birth control pill was dangerous when the medical establishment was pushing it. So too hormonal replacement therapy and psychotropic drugs used especially on young people.Check him out-instead of just reading what his detractors say.If you dare!

"He knows more than most doctors." What exactly are you basing that claim on? His lack of training and accreditation? "If you dare!"I don't know if I do. I'm scared that the black helicopters will come take me away.

But, of course, seeing how as that the dude published his most influential studies in Penthouse, he must be for real. JAMA shmamba.

it's not about black helicoptors .It's about dangerous vaccines and a push to make them compulsory and the supression of any evidence that discredits them.Not for any nefarious motives but due to blind leading the blind incompetance in the matter.And the closed mindedness of the establishment.He does know more then most doctors. Listen to him speak; when someone asks him any question on any specific health matter he will give details-going into a pharmaceutical, micro biological[cellular,neutritional, and physiological depth into an issue. All off the cuff.Like a real natural physician he can bring in disparate knowledge and make connections that enable him to pinpoint causes ,diagnosis and recomendations for treatment for illnesses . He has a nutrition degree but his knowledge doesn't come from his formal education and degrees.Hence his detrators love to mention that he is not a licensed physician.[another straw man -like only a licensed professional can ever have real knowledge.With that mind set-we would never have advanced at all.]Rather he is a natural physician; he has natural smarts-his ability to learn and assimilate and make connections from knowledge acquired- gives him insights that the medical establishment is blind to.That's just in the medical field. He's equally brilliant in other fields too.You sound like you take your cue about him from his debunkers-why not go to the source and think for yourself? oh and btw-I saw him on pbs once discussing mental illness in a fundraising segment . He was raising more money for the station then any other health guru ever had. He was raking in the money and as a result-these other health gurus who could not hold a candle to him -told pbs that they would never go on the pbs station again if pbs allowed gary null on. This because his presence threatened them .They ganged up on him -because people responded to him. And btw-unlike these other health gurus-he charges no money-that's right -no money for consultations.He reserves time every day-for terminally ill patients-and charges no money.He does not charge any money for non terminal clients either. Yes he has supplements that he sells from his store or online -but his consultations are and always have been free. and he works with homeless vets and victims of the psychiatric profession.He's also an organic farmer[i trust agribusinss more then small organic farms though,for safety]. He's no phony and no charlatan.

They won't let him publish in JAMA. That does not mean that what he says is untrue.That he published in Penthouse does not make his claims untrue. It simply means the medical establishment will not publish him.If you think it does then you're closed minded regarding advances in medical knowledge. His debunkers count on closed minded people to discredit him[if he's not in JAMA he must be a quack -is the line]. Of course that is irational and ignorant on its face as scientific and medical knowledge can and has advanced by people who were once considered outside the mainstream.Throwing out standard cliches why he must be a quack just shows that his debunkers are simply regurgitating the "party line" which are simply aspersions hurled at him and which don't actually discredit anything he claims.It's name calling by entrenched people in power[medical/governemnt/media establishment] is all it is really.I don't say he's right about everything-no body no matter how brilliant is right about every innovative claim-not even Einstein-but he's right about most of what he claims that goes against the medical establishment.


rose-ellen --People of my generation saw children dying regularly. After the vaccines, child deaths were relatively rare. My saying so won't convince you, but there it is.

On any issue, one can find a couple pf psuedo-experts that are willing to take a position that flies in the face of evidence. You see it with evolution, vaccines, President Obama's birth certificate, the list goes on. And, no matter how overwhelming the evidence is in support of vaccines, there will always be people who will choose to listen to counter-voice because they prefer what it says.Why should I ignore the CDC or the consensus of the medical community over the opinion of a talk show host with a mail order PhD in "Interdisciplinary Studies"; he's hardly more credible.Maybe, just maybe, this guy's very large universe of detractors, many of whom have actual expertise in the field; maybe this universe of people aren't all part of some sinister plot to discredit him, but instead know that his theories are wrong and will harm people.

@Bob Kelly: I understand you can't get the flu from the vaccine, and also that it takes a few weeks for the immunity to kick in. So, sometimes you can get the flu right after getting the vaccine because the vaccine didn't have time to do it's job.But what if you're just coming down with the flu when you get the vaccine? Does the shot have any impact at all on weakening the severity? And if you do come down with the flu in a given year, are you then immune from getting the flu again that same year?

It's not part of a sinister plot to discredit him-but there is a consensus in the mainstream media/medical and government that vaccines are safe and therefore should not be challenged. They are wrong and people like gary null are challenging them on that. Lunping all false beliefs together[ anti-evolution, obamas birth certificate etc.] is bad logic. Just because a.b. and c are false does not mean d is also false.Like all detrators simply casting aspersions is the MO of the pro status quo vaccine crowd.The CDC are not infallible and they are pushing dangerous drugs on us. Like anti psychotic drugs like ritilin on children which also are very dangerous. And birth control drugs and on and on. Yes he's a talk show host-but he's much more.Genius does not correlate with having a degree.[hello wizard of oz] and historically geniuses have gone against the main stream knowledge.The problem with the expertise of the vaccine crowd -is that their vaccines have caused not only the aids virus to enter the human population[via their hepatis b vaccine] but also that vaccines cause outbreaks of the disease they are said to protect against. And other illnesses like neurological damage. I don't prefer to believe anything one way or the other regarding vaccines[and I believe in the small pox vaccine]. Of course you owe it to yourselves to listen to him -he's on monday through friday at 12noon on f.m. radio station wbai on 99.5 f.m. and on progressive radio network which streams on the internet.Instead of jumping on a bandwagon -make up your own mind by hearing him out.He does not focus on himself or his detractors-he's got more important things to talk about.Years ago I told my mother in law about him and his anti-vaccine position. She thought I was nuts and he must for certain be a quack. Since then he is on the radio where she lives. Now her and circle of friends hang on to his every word.Of course if you get the flu after getting the vaccine -you will be told it's not from the vaccine.Not only can you get the flu -you can transmit it to others -so these vaccinated nurses are probably spreading the attentuated flu virus to their patients.

Hi, Irene - based on discussions I've had with my doctors -Getting the flu vaccine when you already have the flu may not reduce the symptoms, but it does no harm. The CDC has a good web site with answers to other questions, as well.If you get the flu soon after vaccination, it's because you already had the flu, or it's a strain not covered by the vaccine. People injected with the flu vaccine can't spread the flu from having the vaccine. It's not an attenuated virus, so there is nothing to spread. An attenuated virus is used for the nasal spray version only.People who have the flu are likely to be immune the rest of the flu season, if they are exposed to the same or related strain of the flu they suffered from. There are multiple strains of flu in circulation at any one time and sometimes more than one different strain of flu is going around in a year. Check with your doctor for more information that addresses your medical situation. Go to the experts, at the CDC web site, for answers to general questions.

Thanks, Bob

I hear that there's a bad strain of flu running around this city that is not covered by this year's flu shot, so of course there will be people who had the shot who get *that* flu. There is also always the possibility that something was done wrong in the process of producing the shots. Years ago there was a tragic case here of a child whose grandfather was a great MD, had connections and got an early version of a new kind of vaccine for the child. The new process of producing the shot had been faulty, and the child died. I knew its mother. Terribly sad, but an outlier case.I think part of the problem of people who don't accept vaccinations is that many of them don't understand what statistics tell us. They think statistics somehow make promises that they can't keep.

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