Anyone Write a Religious Exemption Letter for being Muslim? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 01-16-2009, 09:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi Mammas,

ANyone have to write a religious exemption letter speakingon why it goes against your Islamic beliefs?

I live in New York city, District 3, and the school just told me that my blanket religious exemption affidavit was not acceptable and that I need to write something in my own words. My husband is from Senegal and a Sufi Muslim so I will talk about that, but I'm having such a hard time finding exactly what to write and how to speak about Islam spefically and how vaccination would be anathema to it.
I really need help because I have to give them something by next week or they may start the process of kicking my 4 yo ds out of pre-school.

Any ideas or resources would be greatly appreciated.

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#2 of 8 Old 01-16-2009, 10:06 PM
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Some states, like NY(contact Gary Krasner for help -- you can also ask on the NY tribe board, and on the Religious Studies [I think] board). On the NYS form they request that your letter:

-explains why are you are requesting the exemption
-describes the religious principles that guide your objection to vaxes
-indicates whether you are opposed to all vaxes, and if not, why you are opposed to some vaxes but not others

As long as your letter covered those 3 points then they shouldn't ask for any "supporting evidence".) Keep it simple; you can express your beliefs in a sentence (a long sentence but a sentence none the less).

and NJ allow the state to question the sincerity of your beliefs; the following is VERY important.

-For a religious exemption you need to be "against the practice of vaccination". If you give your reasons to be against vaccinations as:

"I'm against vaccination because they use aborted fetal cells" - This is a philosophical reason.

"I'm against pre-marital sex and some vaxes are for sexually transmitted diseases." This is a philosophical reason.

Again, you have to be against the the practice of vaccination. For a more through explanation of why this is read the Wexler decision below.

-Also, you DO NOT have to be a member of a religion doctrinally opposed to vaccination. You can be Wiccan, Lutheran, Catholic, Jewish, church of the flip flops, and still claim a religious exemption do to your personal religious beliefs against the practice of vaccination. Dr. Mercola does a good job of explaining this in my Religious Exemptions link below (you may have to register to read it).

-One more thing, you do not want to include specific biblical verses as your interpretation could be challenged. You need to describe your personal religious beliefs.

-Require that all questions regarding your exemption be in writing and give answers in writing. Do not give verbal responses.

Religious Exemptions

The Wexler Decision

To find out what exemptions are offered by your state (for school and such) check here:

All states except West Virginia and Mississippi offer religious and/or philosophical exemptions, and the supreme court ruled that you do not have to belong to a non-vaxing religion or have clergy sign your religious exemption. Exemptions can be submitted in lieu of vaccination records (I would do it this way).

State mandatory vaccination laws have their roots in the 1905 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Jacobsen v Massachusetts. A Swedish Lutheran pastor, Reverend Henning Jacobsen and his son objected to a law requiring revaccination with smallpox vaccine because they had suffered severe reactions to the first vaccination. The nine Supreme Court justices at the turn of the century denied Jacobsen and his lawyers the right to present scientific evidence for harm caused by the smallpox vaccine, preferring to believe the lawyers representing public health officials who convinced them that doctors could predict ahead of time who would be injured by vaccination.

A US Federal Court ruling (binding on NY only) that determined that you do not have to belong to a particular religion to use a religious exemption is:
Sherr v. Northport-East Northport Union Free Sch. Dist., 672 F. Supp. 81, 89-90 (E.D. N.Y. 1987)

Sample Religious Exemption Letter

To whom it may concern;

(We / I) {First and Last name(s)}, as the {(parent (s) / guardian(s)} of ______________________(name of newborn child) are exercising (our/my) rights under the US Constitution, PUBLIC HEALTH LAW, ARTICLE 21. CONTROL OF ACUTE COMMUNICABLE DISEASES,TITLE VI. POLIOMYELITIS AND OTHER DISEASES, NY CLS Pub Health § 2164 (2002), to receive Religious Exemption from Vaccination, ALL injections, prophylaxis, & testing due to our genuine and sincere religious beliefs which are contrary to the practices herein required.

The U.S. Supreme Court held in Frazee V. Illinois Dept. of Security, 489 U.S. 829, that a religious belief is subject to protection even though no religious group espouses such beliefs or the fact that the religious group to which the individual professes to belong may not advocate or require such belief. This ruling is also reflected in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended Nov. 1, 1980; Part 1605.1-Guidelines on Discrimination Because of Religion.


Your signature.

"It should be a rule in all prophylactic work that no harm should ever be unnecessarily inflicted on a healthy person (Sir Graham Wilson, The Hazards of Immunization, 1967)."
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#3 of 8 Old 01-25-2009, 11:40 PM
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Does Islam prohibit vaccination as part of the religious beliefs? I don't think so.

Muslim clerics in India are now cooperating with polio vaccine campaigns:
(Their original opposition was because of the rumors that the vaccine was designed to make Muslims sterile.)

Iran, which is a Muslim theocracy, has banned all sorts of things, but has a government sponsored vaccination program and over 90% vaccination rate among children. AFAIK, none of the Islamic countries (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, etc.) prohibits vaccines although they prohibit alcohol, females with uncover5ed heads and other practices that violate Islam's beliefs. If it were anti-Islamic they would not be vaccinating the children.
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#4 of 8 Old 01-26-2009, 12:20 AM
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I believe that proof of polio vaccination is required for the pilgrimage to Mecca. It is a theocracy.

"One can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light." - Plato
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#5 of 8 Old 01-26-2009, 12:39 AM
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Tamzee, I have never heard of anyone filing a religious exemption citing Islam. However, all you have to do is show that in your own personal religious study, your God tells you not to vaccinate. In other words, that vaccinating would be a sin to you, something you'd actually be damned by God for. And you have to be convinced and/or convincing. Like, you'd rather home-school or move to a different country altogether rather than vaccinate and transgress against God. It helps to be backed by your scriptures and works by respected clergy that interprets that scripture in a way that supports what you believe. It helps to have a clergy person who supports you. But that's not 100% necessary.

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Nirvana is . . . the living happiness of a soul which is conscious of itself and conscious of having found its own abode in the heart of the Eternal. --Gandhi
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#6 of 8 Old 03-11-2009, 06:05 PM
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I suppose this is too late, but I'm just dipping my toes in this whole vaccination business and it started out because I found that certain vaccines contain gelatin and ethanol, which in Islam are unlawful substances. If you are looking for an Islamic reason...
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#7 of 8 Old 03-11-2009, 10:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Muj View Post
I suppose this is too late, but I'm just dipping my toes in this whole vaccination business and it started out because I found that certain vaccines contain gelatin and ethanol, which in Islam are unlawful substances. If you are looking for an Islamic reason...
But strange as it seems, those would be considered philosophical rather than religious reasons. Some Christians sincerely object to the vaccines that are cultured on cell lines from aborted fetuses, but if they cite that as their objection, it will be denied. Does this make sense? No, of course not, but one needs to be very careful when describing the reasons for a religious objection to vaccination. Courts have ruled that it must be the practice of vaccination, regardless of what's in the vaccine or how well it works, to be an acceptable religious reason.
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#8 of 8 Old 03-12-2009, 10:49 AM
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All exemptions in NYC (except Brooklyn, I think) go through Julia Sykes at the NYC BoE. (scroll down) A very knowledgable poster here used to give all sorts of great exemption info to those in the NYC boroughs, because the rules and regs are a little different in NYC - as are the vaccine entry requirements.

Originally Posted by LongIsland
As you know, the City of New York's school entry requirements are slightly different from the rest of the state. They require TB testing and an extra dose of DTaP.
Originally Posted by LongIsland
Yes, you are supposed to technically submit it to the school and it is then it is the school's responsibility to submit it to her [Julia Sykes].

The letter can be addressed to Ms. Sykes if you want to make it easier for the school, since some of them don't know even know what to do with an exemption. Regardless of whether the school or the parent submits the letter to Ms. Sykes, the school needs to know that an exemption was submitted and the school should have a copy of the letter.

However, one of her last posts, 2 years ago, states:

Originally Posted by LongIsland
I don't know if my complaint to the NYS Department of Education had anything to do with it, but one mama here PM'd me that she was just told that she had to send her exemption letter to the regional health director for her borough . . . and not to Ms. Sykes.

I can't see that anyone ever followed up on this, but a simple phone call to either Ms. Sykes or the RHD for your borough would solve the mystery.

Here are the most recently posted Brooklyn contacts, for anyone who might need the info.

Brooklyn East
District 17,18, 19,22, 23,32

Helena Bowens
5619 Flatlands Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11234
(718) 968–6187

Brooklyn West & Staten Island
District: 13,14,15,16,20,21,31

Neil Somerfeld
131 Livingston Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 935–3987

Every baptized Christian is, or should be, someone with an actual (disturbing) experience, ... a close encounter, with God; someone who, as a result, becomes a disturbing presence to others. - Fr. Anthony J. Gittins, A Presence That Disturbs
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