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?

David Gibson is the director of Fordham’s Center on Religion & Culture.

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