No religious exemption for COVID-19 vaccine from Christian, Catholic, Hindu leaders

The+Archdiocese+of+Los+Angeles+recommends+that+all+eligible+people+receive+the+COVID-19+vaccine.+The+Saint+John+of+God+Church+holds+an+indoor+Ash+Wednesday+sermon+on+Feb.+17%2C+2021.+Photo+credit%3A+Vincent+Medina

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles recommends that all eligible people receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The Saint John of God Church holds an indoor Ash Wednesday sermon on Feb. 17, 2021. Photo credit: Vincent Medina

Vincent Medina

Religious leaders from the Christian, Catholic and Hindu faith stated that their religion does not exempt anyone from taking the COVID-19 vaccine.

As vaccine mandates take effect in businesses, government agencies, schools and colleges, exemptions are offered for those who cite a religious reason not to immunize themselves from the virus.

However, Hindu priest Archarya Bhrigu Nath Shukla, Christian pastor Danny Gomez and Catholic reverend Brian Nunes, stated that they do not give vaccine exemptions to their congregation.

Shukla leads the Sanatan Dharma Temple in Norwalk and encourages his congregation to receive the vaccine and seek treatment if they are ill.

“Hindu says to save your life. In our religion, there are no restrictions,” said Shukla. “People who ask for me to write a note, saying they can’t receive the vaccine, I tell them ‘no.'”

In addition to encouraging the vaccine, the Hindu priest offers the vaccine to the community during the weekend at the temple.

“One infected can lead to lots of infected. It’s your responsibility to keep yourself, your family, and society safe,” he said. “We need to stop the virus.”

Pastor Gomez helps preside over the Calvary Chapel in Downey. The church received multiple citations for not following safety protocols during the pandemic and was briefly closed.

However, Gomez explained that Christianity does not have any restrictions on taking the vaccine. The church also does not write religious exemptions for their congregation.

“The bible says ‘seek Godly wisdom from above,'” said the pastor. “It’s a personal conviction to receive the vaccine. Everyone should be making the best decision for their health.”

The church continues to resist COVID safety protocols, as masks are optional during their indoor sermons.

“There is a fine line, though. It has to do with the ingredients in the vaccine,” said Gomez. “If the vaccine uses STEM cells that are acquired from a fetus, then it would cross into our religion.”

Gomez was uninformed about the status of the COVID-19 virus and the vaccine, believing that antibodies protected a person from the virus and that the vaccine is still in emergency approval.

The FDA approved the Pfizer vaccine in August, and the CDC reports that people who survived COVID in the past can be infected again.

Father Brian Nunes is the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ vicar general and moderator of the curia.

He released a statement addressing the issue of religious exemption.

“The Archdiocese of Los Angeles, in accordance with the Vatican and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), recommends that all members of the Catholic community, who are able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, should do so,” stated Nunes.

He continued to quote the USCCB, who said taking the vaccine is “an act of charity toward the other members of our community.”

“Being vaccinated safely against COVID-19 should be considered an act of love of our neighbor and part of our moral responsibility for the common good,” said the USCCB.