Here's some information regarding state laws (this was written in 2002 and some states such as Texas have enacted philo exemptions since then):
D. Narrow Religious Exemption States
In a handful of states (Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska,
Texas), the statutory language relating to religious exemptions requires that
parents and children requesting an exemption be members of a recognized
religious organization or denomination but does not require an inquiry into the
sincerity of the religious belief in question.
This language was tested and declared unconstitutional in the state of Massachusetts (see Dalli v. Board of Educ., 267 N.E. 2d 219 (Mass. 1971)), and in Sherr v. Northport-East Northport Union Free Sch. Dist., 672 F.Supp. 81 (E.D.N.Y. 1987) a federal trial court held the “recognized religion” clause unconstitutional under the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. However, as there is no controlling Supreme Court decision on point, there is room for other states and federal courts to come to different conclusions. As the law stands today, citizens of Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, and Texas who request exemptions must be members of a recognized religious organization or denomination.
E. Wide Religious Exemption States
In other states like Wyoming (Connecticut, Delaware, D.C., Florida,
Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Wyoming), the language in the statutory religious exemption clause is more open-ended and exemption friendly. However, such statutes are not always applied in an exemption friendly way by the state health departments charged with administering vaccinations. It remains the duty of the courts to correct this executive abuse.
A good example of this kind of judicial oversight can be found in LePage v. Wyoming, 18 P.3d 1877 (2001), a case in which The Rutherford Institute represented plaintiff Susan LePage. In LePage, the Wyoming Supreme Court reviewed Ms. LePage’s request for a personal religious exemption, a request that had formerly been denied by the Wyoming State Board of Health on grounds that Ms. LePage’s views were moral and philosophical—“based on concerns regarding the health and safety risks of the vaccination as well as the mode of transmission of the hepatitis B virus” Id. at 1180—and not distinctly religious.
The court examined the language of the Wyoming statute and determined that it mandated the State Board of Health to grant exemption from vaccination to any child whose parent submits a written objection to such vaccination based upon religious grounds.
Copyright 2002 The Rutherford Institute, P.O. Box 7482, Charlottesville, VA,