Mandates work, nobody's religious, nobody's allergic.

The great vaccine mandate resignation that wasn't:

Workers in the US have been vocal about plans to quit en masse in response to mandates; a follow-through hasn't materialized. Resistance to a New York Police Department mandate portended the departure of thousands of officers, but just 89 (0.3% of the force) ultimately left.

And despite numerous protests, one recent tally of vaccine mandate-related departures at US hospitals ranged from 0.02% to no more than 4.7% of staff. [...]

It might be instructive to compare vaccine mandate-related departures with staff turnover in a more normal era. [...] In the US, the hospital staff turnover rate was 17.8% in 2019, and the rate for all New York City employees including police was 16.1% in 2018. [...]

The evidence points to mostly-performative complaining out of proportion with actual resignations, and frequently inflected with political overtones. In Italy, for example, anti-mandate protests have brought together an odd alliance of anarchists, trade unionists, and neo-fascists.

San Jose's police union warned 100 cops could quit over the city's vaccine mandate. Only six face unpaid leave:

After a fierce effort to finesse San Jose's strict COVID-19 vaccination mandate -- led by a police union that warned more than 100 cops were ready to quit over it -- only six city employees have chosen to forfeit a week of pay for the option to stay unvaccinated.

All other city employees, including rank-and-file police officers, have either submitted proof of vaccination, are in the process of getting fully vaccinated or have been awarded a religious or medical exemption, according to San Jose Human Resource Director Jennifer Schembri.

Ok, but burying the lede:

Although 354 of the city's 7,105 workers have not yet received shots or reported their vaccination status, all but six have pending or approved exemptions for medical or religious reasons or are making progress towards becoming fully inoculated, according to city spokesperson Carolina Camarena.

So those remaining 348 unvaccinated people represent 4.9% of the employees.

According to NIH, CDC and FDA, allergic reactions to COVID-19 vaccines are between 2.5 and 11.1 per million, which is to say, between 0.00025% and 0.00111%. Allergies to vaccines in general are between 1 and 10 per million, or less than 0.001%.

So, 0.001% of 348 is... let's be honest, zero.

Which means that 4.9% of the City of San Jose's employees succeeded in getting religious exemptions.

There are fewer than 50,000 Christian Scientists in the US, or 0.015% of the population.

And 0.015% of 348 is... let's be honest, zero.

So 100% of those 348 people lied and got away with it, so that they have the privilege of continuing to infect the people they serve.

I am just fucking exhausted by reporters failing to do basic arithmetic.

Religious Exemptions for Vaccine Mandates Shouldn't Exist:

The First Amendment restricts the government from prohibiting the "free exercise" of religion. For most of American history, this did not include religious exemptions from secular laws that apply to everyone. As the Supreme Court observed in 1879, "To permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself." Congress can't tell you what to believe, the Court ruled, but it can tell you what to do. [...]

In 1990, the Court tightened things back up. [...] The Court held that religion doesn't give someone the right to challenge a "generally applicable" law. Ruling otherwise, wrote the conservative Catholic Justice Antonin Scalia, "would open the prospect of constitutionally required exemptions from civic obligations of almost every conceivable kind." One example of such a civic obligation that Scalia cited for his slippery-slope argument: compulsory vaccination laws. [...]

Even the Christian Scientists now come close to conceding the point. A post on the church's website seems to acknowledge that exemptions have gotten out of hand. [...] When you've lost the Christian Scientists, it's time to rethink exemptions.

Update: Director of S.F. Film Commission forced to resign after not getting COVID vaccine:

Robbins said she does not want to get vaccinated because of her personal beliefs about vaccinations, which are based on her Christian Scientist upbringing. While she is not currently a practicing Christian Scientist, she said, “My upbringing is the foundation of my belief system. I never had childhood vaccinations and don’t make them a practice in my life.”

Sooooo, in at least this case, SF isn't granting religious exemptions to Christian Scientists, so who are they granting them to?

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15 Responses:

  1. tfb says:

    I am just fucking exhausted by reporters failing to do basic arithmetic.

    If even a reasonable minority of people, not just reporters, were functionally numerate we would probably be a lot less fucked than we are. As it is, it's some tiny, tiny proportion, and we are very fucked indeed.

  2. グレェ「grey」 says:

    I was raised by Christian Scientists. Contrary to popular belief, Christian Science does not prohibit medical treatment.

    Lamentably, some observers of the religion, such as my parents, would still use the religion as an excuse to perpetuate child abuse, which presumably is where some of the public misperceptions about Christian Science originate. This blog isn't a therapist (I've seen numerous such professionals over the years, thanks, but I would sincerely prefer to avoid such individuals for my own existence moving forward, do not reply to this as someone else did to an earlier post on this blog some months ago with email addresses to contact you, that is of absolutely no help and nothing I requested), but I could share many harrowing tales of being raised by such individuals up to and including being quarantined after my older sister contracted the measles (we were not vaccinated). Candidly, that experience makes me think that people complaining about "shelter in place" or misconstruing such safety precautions as "quarantine" have no idea what it really means to be quarantined. When quarantined, I could not put on a mask and go grocery shopping for example. It was much closer to something similar to house arrest. Truthfully, even when I have been incarcerated, I have had more freedom to interact with others. Thankfully, despite having been quarantined in my youth, I did not contract the measles. As an adult, I have been vaccinated (yes, even against COVID-19).

    However, just because there are some Christian Scientists who, like my parents, were abusive jerks, doesn't mean they're all complete anti-vaxxer nincompoops.

    For example, I doubt I will ever understand why my parents thought it was OK for me to go to the dentist, and have orthodontic braces even if they did not ever take me to get more routine general practitioner medical treatment from an MD but here's a hint: my parents also kept me out of sex ed class in middle school.

    My best guess is: since I am a survivor of CSA, there were a LOT of things my parents would have preferred never saw the light of day, so me seeing MDs, or being in situations where I might share my personal experiences might cause them some sort of shame and backlash they no doubt deserved, but did not want. California does after all, have mandatory reporter statutes. One way to avoid such legal perils would be to make up some BS about "religious exemption" presumably? Alas, my parents are dead now, I doubt there is any sort of legal recourse for me. The nightmare of attempting to settle my parents' estate already has me at wits' end (my mother passed away in 2020 after being admitted to a nursing home in Massachusetts after being diagnosed with Lewy body dementia and not long afterwards she contracted COVID-19 and passed away), though for reasons that are not quite beyond me, my sister seems to have been given preferential treatment. Rather than another therapist, shaman, psychiatrist and such, I could probably use a practicing attorney experienced in trusts and estate law who is willing to work pro bono or on contingency.

    There are patterns and cycles of abuse, and it was only in 2019 after speaking with my paternal aunt that I realized that when my father's father died during WWII, their mom put them into an orphanage. My paternal side of the family is also where the Christian Science adherence came from, and my suspicion is that my paternal grandmother may have also used Christian Science as a shield to "protect" her from allegations (I would say, evidence based ones) of child abuse.

    I certainly wouldn't put such heinous chicanery beyond city, state and federal employees hoping to wriggle their way out of basic safety precautions. I realize there are on occasion, medically recommended abstainers from vaccinations for individuals who are immunocompromised, but unlike the Christian Science canard, that would be with the endorsement of the medical industrial complex rather than pretending it doesn't exist and doing anything imaginable to avoid it.

    I guess this is a round about and long winded way of expressing that I am not especially surprised to concur with "When you've lost the Christian Scientists, it's time to rethink exemptions" because I have known some pretty decent Christian Scientists (no, not my parents).

    I have no idea what to write about the "alliance of anarchists, trade unionists, and neo-fascists" that is is just confusing to me.

    I also wonder, of religious exemptions being granted, what religions? As correctly stipulated in the post, there are a dwindling number of living and observant Christian Scientists in the USA. Anecdotally, within the last few years, I attended a Sunday Service at the Christian Science Church on O'Farrell Street in the heart of the Tenderloin. Including myself, and the organist, I counted 11 people in attendance. That church, is not exactly small, but did it ever feel mostly empty. Even when my parents moved our family to rural Hobbs, in Eastern New Mexico in the early 1980s, the Christian Science Church we would drive to had more people in attendance.

    In other words, my best guess is, if there are religious exemptions being granted, they probably are not being granted to practicing Christian Scientists, I wonder what other religions perhaps merit more scrutiny?

    • Not Frank says:

      It's probably the "protestantization of religion" in a legal sense from the last link; no other organizations offer any resistance to mandatory vaccination, but sincerely-held religious belief may be enough even if the body of believers maps 1:1 to an individual. Possibly if the legal standards shift we might have The Church Of No Vaccines appear, though folks whose core belief is "You're Not The Boss Of Me" may find it difficult to organize even that long.

    • Jeff Allen says:

      Thanks for this, it was interesting. Take care.

  3. NB says:

    "SFPD officer placed on leave for not getting vaccinated by Nov. 1, tests positive on Nov. 2, and dies of Covid on Nov. 6."

  4. Zygo says:

    Are we just assuming that the population of "or are making progress towards becoming fully inoculated" is 0? If not, could we as easily assume that 348 workers said "Fine, we'll get an appointment for a shot" and their employers said "well OK we won't fire you despite missing a deadline you should have cleared months in advance" and there are in fact zero religious exemptions?

    It's probably neither 348 not zero, but it's annoying to have such a wide range of distinct cases all mashed together.

  5. div0 says:

    > The First Amendment restricts the government from prohibiting the "free exercise" of religion. For most of American history, this did not include religious exemptions from secular laws that apply to everyone.

    Interesting point, but is it true? By your interpretation, the government could also require everyone to eat pork, although I would bet that would get shot down in court quickly.

    Not just Muslims and Jews - possibly even vegetarianism could count as a sufficiently sincerely held belief.

    However, actual practice has shown that e.g. school canteens had to provide non-pork options specifically because of religious reasons (which IIRC was decided in court).

    • Dude says:

      Other than the fact that it wasn't jwz's interpretation, but that of the person whom he was quoting... what part of "restricts the government" was not clear? Citizens can worship whatever (literally) G-d-damned thing they like, but the government is required to be indifferent to religion and act in the interest of the public as a whole - that's the government's whole purpose.

      It's hilarious stupid how religious cry-babies think not holding their religion on high is akin to tossing Christians to the lions (which, by the way, never happened.

      The government has every right to issue mask mandates and COVID protocols. Point-in-fact, those opposing them are violating OSHA rules for public and professional safety:

      • div0 says:

        First of all, one can be against mandatory vaccination while being vaccinated oneself. Do not conflate the two.

        Personally I think the use of a mandate - ESPECIALLY the way it's implemented - was wrong. If we need a mandate at all, it should have been made a LAW via the proper legislative process and made a requirement for everyone, and not sidestepping said process by tricks such as making it an executive order, applying only to federal contractors (but then expanding the definition thereof a lot), and making it an OSHA rule for employers.

        However, mask mandates for example would not need such scrutiny - after all, there is no recognized human right for "not having to wear a specific kind of clothing" [except if said piece of clothing ends up being too expensive for the person to afford, but that is solvable], but there certainly is a human right to bodily integrity, meaning that forced medical procedures are inhumane just like e.g. mandatory tattooing of prisoners - and this includes any medical procedure that causes an injury no matter how small (i.e. non-invasive temperature checking is of course fine, tests are fine, mandatory vaccinations are not).

        Of course, in the concrete case, NOT mandating vaccination may be inhumane to everyone else too, so there is some weighing to be done. And that's where the legislative branch should have come in, rather than this being an unilateral executive order sidestepping virtually all proper due process (HINT: just like a certain Texas law that ended up in the news a lot - same sidestepping of elementary democratic principles by sidestepping).

        As for religious exemptions - there may indeed be religious reasons against wearing a mask (TBH don't know any), just like there are religious reasons against eating pork. Some countries even allowed Pastafarians to wear a strainer on the head for their passport photo AND THAT IS FINE. The UN standard for this is:

        "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."

        "Manifesting his religion of belief" clearly includes NOT doing things one's religion forbids. Just like we let Muslims e.g. observe Ramadan, if one's religion precludes the use of vaccines, I guess that requires an accommodation where reasonably possible. The usual standard is that an accommodation must be given when it does not unduly impact others, including the one providing it.

        So this person who's not vaccinated for religious reasons - maybe this person probably shouldn't be using public transport or come to an office if their work can be done remotely. This person certainly needs food though, so can't really ban them from the grocery store. Can require them to use pick-up or delivery service though. Just like the person who doesn't eat pork for religious reasons shouldn't be force-fed pork in prison but be given _something_ they can eat, unless doing so is an undue burden or affects others negatively. If that means "this person then gets three bowls of salad rather than one, but no main dish", then I guess they gotta accept that.

        • Dude says:

          I immediately stopped reading this asinine essay after the first line, which used a variation of the classic Jenny McCarthy/Jessica Biel line of "I'm totally not an anti-vaxxer, I just don't want your kids vaccinated."

          The video above refutes any objection you have because when one is a danger to both themselves and others (like, say, when they're infected with a virus that's already killed millions worldwide), then the law has EVERY right to make sure that danger doesn't proliferate. Period.

          • div0 says:

            > then the law has EVERY right to make sure that danger doesn't proliferate

            BUT THERE IS NO LAW. My whole point is, there SHOULD be one.

            Not this democracy-sidestepping executive-order-applying-to-employers nonsense.

            This is ultimately using civil law (federal contracts) to enforce something on nearly everyone. This is WRONG. This is not how democracy should work.

            Congress, make this a REAL law.

        • You write a lot of words for someone so unfathomably stupid.

      • tfb says:

        Christians certainly were killed by wild animals for the amusement of Roman citizens. What isn't true is that christians were somehow singled out for a uniquely unpleasant punishment, which they were not, or that they were always punished, which they also were not. From the article you cited:

        It is important to emphasise that such cruel deaths were not unique to Christians. Condemnation to the beasts was a popular punishment for criminals of any type, because it maximized their suffering and allowed good and proper Roman citizens to gain pleasure from the deaths of wrong-doers.


        Death – particularly by lions – was not an inevitable punishment, and not restricted to Christians. Universal edicts of persecution were only issued on specific occasions in the third and early fourth centuries A.D. They were a result of the emperors trying to reinforce traditional Roman religion in increasingly unsettled times.

        The real lesson that I get from reading about the ancient Romans is that they were not remotely civilised: their entire civilisation was built on slavery on a vast scale, they had people torn apart while alive for public amusement and so on and so on. The Greeks were, perhaps, a little better: they were less bloodthirsty. But the whole democracy thing was a sham: you got to vote (in Athens, for a while) if you were an adult male citizen, not a slave (because of course this was another system built entirely on slavery), and also not an adult male whose family had lived in Athens for generations but who conveniently did not qualify to vote. And obviously not a woman: women were just property.

        And yet we are taught that these awful people were the noble creators of our civilisation. Fuck that.

  6. dcapacitor says:

    Beyond basic arithmetic though, what makes you think those 348 people are a sample representative of the general population?

    Not that I disagree with the premise of this post, but I do question your statistical approach.

  7. plums says:


    You sold out, maaaan!