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Separation of coven and state? Journalists ought to ask faith questions on this Las Vegas case — GetReligion

Consideration journalists: Right here is a vital theme that runs by way of First Modification conflicts in regards to the freedom of believers to follow the tenets of their religion in actual life — at all times take into account the ramifications of a brand new case on believers on the left, in addition to the fitting, on believers in minority faiths, in addition to these within the main world religions.

For a major instance of this precept, see this week’s Julia Duin put up: “Christian web designer at the Supreme Court: How reporters covered 303 Creative case.”

This leads me to an interesting headline the opposite day from the Las Vegas Evaluate-Journal — “Pagan nurse files religious discrimination lawsuit against UMC.” Prepared for the plot twist? It is a pagan believer demanding the fitting to refuse a COVID-19 vaccination mandate.

As soon as once more, we face a typical religion-beat problem: Do journalists perceive fundamental information in regards to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 and the massive themes that courts explore in these kinds of First Amendment cases?

We all know what this seems to be like with, let’s say, wedding-cake artists in Colorado. However to contemplate protection of the pagan nurse’s case, I would love readers to contemplate, as soon as once more, that mirror-image state of affairs that I created years in the past, and tweaked recently:

… As an example that there’s a businessman in Indianapolis who runs a catering firm. He’s an overtly homosexual Episcopalian and, on the coronary heart of his religion (and the religion articulated by his church) is a honest perception that homosexuality is a present of God and a pure a part of God’s good creation. This enterprise proprietor has lengthy served all kinds of shoppers, together with a close-by Pentecostal church that’s predominantly African-American.

Then, at some point, the leaders of this church ask him to cater a significant occasion — the upcoming regional convention of the Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays. He declines, saying this is able to violate all the pieces he stands for as a liberal Christian. He notes that they’ve dozens of different catering choices of their metropolis and, whereas he has willingly served them previously, it’s his honest perception that it will be fallacious to take action on this particular case.

Now, about that Las Vegas story. Here is the overture:

A Las Vegas nurse and self-described pagan has sued the hospital that fired her after it rejected her request for a religious exemption to its COVID-19 vaccination requirement.

Labor and supply nurse Julia Kidd final week filed a federal lawsuit in opposition to College Medical Heart alleging it had engaged in non secular discrimination. The lawsuit claims she was fired in retaliation for requesting the exemption and for in search of redress by way of the Nevada Equal Rights Fee.

Kidd, who’s 55, had been working at Clark County’s public hospital for 18 years when she requested a spiritual exemption from its mandate that workers be vaccinated in opposition to COVID-19. UMC denied her request, and when she continued to refuse to get vaccinated, fired her in January.

The nurse mentioned she is a practitioner of paganism, another nature-based faith. She described herself as a solitary practitioner whose religious follow facilities on invocation and communing with nature.

It’s secure to say that, at this level, neopaganism is a loosely organized religion within the context of postmodern America. I might not say that this nurse is concerned in some form of for-profit rip-off. So, what does this story need to say in regards to the non secular heritage on the coronary heart of her protection?

Straight away, readers study:

She informed the Evaluate-Journal she follows the Wiccan Rede, an moral code that states, “If it hurt none, do what you’ll.” In an interview in January following her suspension, she mentioned she didn’t see how being unvaccinated harmed anybody if she wore a masks and private protecting gear (PPE) “to the nth diploma” whereas taking different precautions akin to washing her palms. She additionally mentioned she was keen to be examined every day for COVID-19.

The message she obtained from the hospital was that “we don’t suppose that’s a legitimate perception, so it doesn’t matter,” she mentioned on Saturday. Kidd shouldn’t be against vaccinations usually however had qualms in regards to the COVID-19 photographs as a result of they have been so new.

Whoa. Was that hospital message in writing, the one claiming that its management believes “we don’t suppose that’s a legitimate perception, so it doesn’t matter.” That’s a dynamite assertion and it will be vital to confirm that that is the hospital’s authorized opinion on the matter.

The story merely says: “UMC consultant Scott Kerbs mentioned … the hospital doesn’t touch upon pending litigation.”

What else does this story say in regards to the faith points concerned on this case? Here’s a meaty chunk of fabric:

Kidd mentioned she knew of a former co-worker, a Christian, who had obtained a spiritual exemption after submitting a letter of rationalization she wrote along with her pastor.

Federal steering on whether or not to grant an exemption hinges on whether or not the worker has a “sincerely held non secular perception” that prohibits vaccination.

Not qualifying as non secular beliefs are objections “primarily based on social, political, or private preferences, or on nonreligious considerations in regards to the attainable results of the vaccine,” in keeping with the U.S. Equal Rights Fee.

Labor and employment lawyer Mark Abbott, who shouldn’t be concerned in Kidd’s case, has discovered that employers could also be doubtful of requests for lodging primarily based on nontraditional non secular beliefs with which they’re unfamiliar.

An employer must tread very rigorously when an worker’s non secular perception is out of the norm, “even should you don’t perceive it and also you may not agree with it,” mentioned Abbott, managing accomplice of regulation agency Kamer Zucker Abbott.

What else are readers informed about Kidd’s religion and the neighborhood through which she worships?

Nothing, mainly.

That’s vital if her employers actually suppose that she is appearing on her “private preferences,” versus doctrines and traditions shared — for years or many years — with a religion neighborhood of comparable believers.

In different phrases, journalists must ask the pagan nurse questions in regards to the doctrines and follow that outline her religion, since that’s the core of her protection on this case.

That is, in different phrases, a faith story. It’s vital to ask faith questions which are linked to core RFRA protection ideas — for Catholics, Jews, evangelicals, liberal Protestants and, sure, pagan nurses.

This case is vital and information matter — particularly in conflicts between church (or coven) and state.

FIRST IMAGE: Illustration from a “Mark of the Beast meets Vaccine Passports” analysis at the Virility Projects website.

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