Feds still holding up religious vax exemptions

In terms of seeking a religious exemption from the vaccine mandate from my federal agency things have been as clear as mud and as promising as the return of $2 gas in the spring.  At first the rumor was that if you were from certain religions whose leaders support the vax (thank you Pope Francis) you would be denied a religious exemption.  This created a few weeks of fear and seemed to go against what the EEOC wrote.  We heard almost weekly that the agency would send us an exemption process, but we got nothing… all while sliding helplessly towards the Nov 22nd deadline.  I thought this was a health emergency!  Eventually, the Safer Federal Workforce website posted a list of questions which came from the religious experts in the Office of Management and Budget.  These questions were a bit threatening and extremely intrusive, and have since been modified.  We still have no further information on an actual process, and termination is supposed to begin Monday, November 22nd.  The only certainty we have is that you must get vaccinated even if you telework and that many of my coworkers are convinced the vaccine is “safe and effective” but are terrified to leave their homes for fear of catching COVID.

Early in October we felt hopeful when a few NBA stars stood up and said “my body, my choice” and bless them for doing so, but it didn’t seem to change the tide.  Next, we felt hopeful when things seemed to be happening in the airlines… but that faded too.  Finally, in mid-October there was an alleged leak from a White House conversation with a DoJ lawyer about religious exemptions.  Some were hopeful when they heard that conversation and interpreted this to mean the agency couldn’t argue with religious exemption requests so surely they would all be granted.  My interpretation was the conversation meant it was time to change the game… they can’t deny the exemption so instead they will focus on denying the accommodation.  

Since then, we have been sent a number of intimidating emails from the agency about termination for those whose religious or medical exemption requests are denied (again without any information on how to apply for such an exemption).  I have heard only a few hundred people in my agency out of thousands will apply for an exemption.  It’s totally unacceptable to still not have a process and it’s unclear what the agency is waiting for. I get it though, it’s all part of the game to try to purge you or break you and make you do what they want.  In early November we were required to declare our “vaccination status” but that’s all we’ve been told to submit so far.  I know “President” Biden was really talking up the five-day “education and counseling plan” for some reason, but all it means is you will be terminated five days later than you would otherwise.  Morale is nonexistent for some of us, and low for a few vaccinated coworkers who understand what’s going on.  After a while though, the shell shock of possibly being terminated makes you numb and indifferent.

It’s interesting to note that during this health emergency the agency has had time to put together information and processes on how and why to use the right pronouns for people who believe they are a different gender… and how we all must respect this diversity and accommodate such choices based on sincerely held beliefs about gender. I bring this up because I do care about the utter hypocrisy of being lectured on the need to accommodate someone else’s sincerely held personal beliefs while mine are ignored.  

Then, last week President Brandon suddenly announced a delay for the federal contractor vaccine mandate. No word followed on a similar path for federal employees.  However, in a complete turnaround the American Federation of Government Employees union (AFGE) suddenly stepped in and asked for a delay for federal employees to match the delay for contractors.  Upon further investigation about this odd change of heart, I may have found the reason.  It appears that AFGE may represent a number of TSA employees and suddenly now that Thanksgiving is almost here, TSA hasn’t managed to pressure more than 60% of its workforce to get the jab.  AFGE’s president said last week, “The effect upon morale of federal employees being subject to possible discipline at this time of year cannot be overstated.”

Yes, it’s so much better for morale to be fired right after the new year!  I hope everyone at TSA and elsewhere can see through this attempt to further abuse these federal workers to avoid yet another Biden crisis.  It’s an obvious attempt to ensure that Black Friday profits and holiday travel are uninterrupted.  Make no mistake, five days after the new year TSA will start processing terminations.

If this was a true national emergency, would “President” Biden allow 40% of TSA agents to be unvaccinated as they usher through millions of holiday travelers a day through crowded airports on their way to visit family?  Is this what the science and data say?  In fact, if TSA agents can get a delay from the vax mandate during the holiday travel rush, I hope that First Liberty can argue that there is no emergency that necessitates the vax mandate.  What court could take the ‘emergency’ seriously after this?

But for now, it will be Thanksgiving turkey with a side of uncertainty.

Image: Christian Emmer

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