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UMass-Boston Reportedly Rejecting All Catholic Students’ Religious Exemption Vaccination Requests

UMass-Boston Reportedly Rejecting All Catholic Students’ Religious Exemption Vaccination Requests

“Shawn De Veau, the vice chancellor of student affairs, has done his own research and determined that Catholic students cannot have valid objections to getting vaccinated against coronavirus”

When you’ve lost even Laurence Tribe . . . .

The College Fix reports:

Catholic students at the University of Massachusetts Boston have hit a roadblock in their pursuit of religious exemptions from the public university’s vaccine mandate.

“A public university official in Massachusetts has been turning down all requests from Catholic students for a religious exemption from the school’s coronavirus vaccine requirement, based on his research into Catholic teachings,” the National Catholic Register reported.

The Catholic publication reported that Shawn De Veau, the vice chancellor of student affairs, has done his own research and determined that Catholic students cannot have valid objections to getting vaccinated against coronavirus.

De Veau does not claim the ability to read people’s souls like some saints have been able to do, but he did some “research” before coming to his complete rejection policy.

He explained to a court, according to the National Catholic Register:

When reviewing students’ appeals, I engage in a holistic process: I review the student’s request, research the faith tradition on which they are basing their request, and respond to the students based on my research. If students send further replies after receiving my response, I engage in phone or email conversations with them. My process for reviewing appeals is to engage in an interactive process to discuss the student’s specific circumstances and determine if the exemption is based on a sincerely held religious belief.

De Veau’s bio does not indicate any background in theology, seminary formation or that he is Catholic. He’s had a long career in school administration and in his free time is on the board of the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus, for what it’s worth.

. . . . Government officials telling students that their faith does not teach something, is “interpreting a religion,” [leftist Harvard law Professor Laurence] Tribe said. “That’s clearly unconstitutional and deeply offensive.”


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So one guy thinks he knows more about a particular religion that he apparently does not practice, than the people who do practice it.

Sounds completely fair. What’s wrong with these people who keep fighting against perfectly reasonable government decisions?

    irv in reply to irv. | September 11, 2021 at 3:04 pm

    What do you mean he’s not the government? Then he shouldn’t be making any decisions at all! Leave it to the big brains like Joe Biden and Kamala Harris!

      Milhouse in reply to irv. | September 12, 2021 at 1:27 am

      He is the government. UMASS is a government school.

      But it’s very reasonable for him to think he knows more about the Catholic view of vaccination than actual Catholics do; all he had to do was ask the Church itself for its view.

      Speaking as a non-Catholic who actually does know more about the Catholic religion than many Catholics seem to.

Still amazed that “freedom” in America dictates that if a non-deposable supernatural being tells you to do something, government must make defer to it; but if your own intelligence, rationality, and philosophical principles tell you the same thing, government is empowered to bulldoze right over you.

    Court decisions have consistently held that once a religious exemption is claimed it’s over. Inquiry into the nature or alleged sincerity of the claim is illegitimate. Whether a formal organization of the faithful exists is also irrelevant. I therefore conclude that atheists can and should claim religious exemptions where available, and when challenged simply say “it’s a private matter”.

    The problem will be the progressive judiciary driving a stake through religious exemptions by ruling that governments and private companies can ignore them if they have a rational basis for doing so.

      Milhouse in reply to randian. | September 12, 2021 at 1:10 am

      Court decisions have consistently held that once a religious exemption is claimed it’s over. Inquiry into the nature or alleged sincerity of the claim is illegitimate.

      That is flatly untrue. Courts may not inquire into the doctrinal correctness of a claimed religious belief; once it has determined that the claimant sincerely holds it, a court must accept it and rule accordingly. But it is completely legitimate and proper to test the claim’s sincerity.

Making the decision on whether to take a vaccine hinges on how it was made. If stem cells were used then it becomes a problem that needs to be discerned thoughtfully.

The mRNA COVID-19 vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna do not require the use of any fetal cell cultures in order to manufacture (produce) the vaccine.
Early in the development of mRNA vaccine technology, fetal cells were used for “proof of concept” (to demonstrate how a cell could take up mRNA and produce the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein) or to characterize the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has stated: “neither Pfizer nor Moderna used an abortion-derived cell line in the development or production of the vaccine. However, such a cell line was used to test the efficacy of both vaccines. Thus, while neither vaccine is completely free from any use of abortion-derived cell lines, in these two cases
the use is very remote from the initial evil of the abortion…one may receive any of the clinically recommended vaccines in good conscience with the assurance that reception of such vaccines.

The Johnson and Johnson did require the use of fetal cell cultures, specifically PER.C6, in order to produce and manufacture the vaccine.

In my personal opinion, based on my own decision-making; a practicing Catholic could in good faith take Pfizer or Moderna.

Some Catholics would avoid all three since there was fetal cell useage to some degree in each and thus might object on religious grounds due to that reason.

In this case the vice-chancellor is correct, and Tribe is wrong.

If someone with an eclectic religion that they cobbled together themselves were to claim that their sincerely held religious beliefs prevent them from having this vaccine, then Tribe would be right and the vice-chancellor wrong. Ditto if the person was some sort of non-conforming Catholic, such as a sede vacantist or something, which is essentially the same thing.

But someone who claims to be a Roman Catholic, and that it is his Roman Catholic beliefs that tell him not to be vaccinated, should be presumed not to be telling the truth. Because Roman Catholic doctrine is controlled by the Roman Church, and it’s trivial to determine that that doctrine permits vaccination. Of course the claimant could provide evidence that he sincerely believes that in this one instance the Church got it wrong, but the onus should be on him to prove it.

This is much the same as the argument I made a couple of years ago, when anti-vaxx parents were suing Orthodox Jewish schools for refusing to admit their children who had not been vaccinated for measles, despite the state requiring religious exemptions. “There are only two possibilities: You are lying about your claimed religious objection; or you subscribe to some other religion, in which case your children are not welcome here anyway”.

    kyrrat in reply to Milhouse. | September 12, 2021 at 3:36 pm

    You are taking an either/or approach with regards to vaccination. There is no Roman Catholic catacumical teaching that vaccines should be taken. Francis has made a prudential judgement that the moral evil of using a vaccine that has the moral taint of association with fetal tissue derived from abortion is, in his opinion, overriden by the prudence for the common good of taking the vaccine. Prudential judgements are not dogma.

    Mind you, I took the vaccine. I am simply pointing out those that do not are not ‘bad’ Roman Catholics.

    While the Church does not teach that there are no circumstances in which a Catholic can receive an abortion-tainted vaccine, a priest can state that a Catholic in good conscience can refuse the jab on religious grounds. A great sample of such a letter can be found at the website of the National Catholic Bioethics Center. And happily the Colorado Catholic Conference recently put out a statement that defended the right of Catholics to seek a religious exemption in this regard, although to my knowledge they are the only bishops to do so as of this writing.

    It is a core part of our faith that life has dignity from the moment of conception. To kill such life and use it for medical experimentation violates that dignity in a profound manner. The moral stakes are very high, and so any participation in that evil—even participation quite remote—demands a great evil to justify it.

    Yes, some Catholics might believe the COVID-19 pandemic evil enough and the participation remote enough to justify the shot. But others will not, and their prudential judgement still follows the religious teaching of the Catholic Faith.