Religious beliefs matter, says judge

Religious beliefs matter, says judge

Religious beliefs matter, says judge

Mississippians continue to celebrate a federal ruling that says the state must give religious exemptions on vaccines.

The lawsuit was filed last year by parents claiming their religious beliefs led them to keep their children unvaccinated and out of Mississippi schools. Some of the plaintiffs are homeschooling their children, while others have family or work connections in Mississippi but live in other states that allow religious exemptions for childhood vaccinations.

Before U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden ruled earlier this month that Mississippi must allow religious exemptions from vaccinations that children are required to receive so they can attend school, The Magnolia State was listed among California, Connecticut, Maine, New York, and West Virginia as one of the few remaining states without religious or personal belief exemptions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

State Senator Chris McDaniel (R-Forrest, Jones) supports the lawsuit and the push for religious exemptions, and he is "very, very pleased" with the ruling.

McDaniel, Chris (R-MS) McDaniel

"A religious exemption is a fundamental American right," says McDaniel. "If someone has a religious objection to a government action, then certainly that religious objection must matter, particularly in the vaccination arena. I've been fighting for it for years."

It has been argued in Mississippi and in other states that allowing more exemptions could lead to the spread of preventable diseases. To that McDaniel says, "There is always going to be fearmongering."

The organization known as Mississippi Parents for Vaccine Rights responded to the ruling on social media by posting, "It's a free-er day in Mississippi!"

It is unknown whether the Mississippi State Department of Health will appeal the ruling, but considering that the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is, like Judge Ozerden, conservative, Sen. McDaniel doubts it.

In recent days, conservatives have applauded Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves (R) for signing measures meant to protect minors from obscenity and to prioritize public safety.