Religious Exemptions for Masks? Exploring the Unbelievable

I heard some parents at the school board the other night talking about using religious exemptions to stop their children from having to follow a mask mandate. Usually, I try to limit my direct engagement with people stating this type of foolishness as it does not go anywhere. However, seeing how blatantly and shamelessly Christianity was being distorted, I had to jump in.

I just let them know that there is no legitimate religious exemption to stop their children from having to uphold a public health policy. Unfortunately, many districts are letting this slide. It was recently reported in Charleston County School, where there is a mask mandate, that over 80% of the exemptions were granted-the majority based on “religious exemptions.” This might not be the most serious twisting of the faith. Of course, Christianity, like all religions, has been twisted into calls for violence, genocide, nationalism, and conquest. However, this might be one of the most hysterical. It’s like a cynical joke that someone came up with, that people actually took seriously. One of the women at the board meeting said it was what the Holy Spirit had guided her in and said something about covering up the image of God. She also said that you cannot question anyone’s religious belief. I would have to disagree. There are plenty of religious ideas that are counter to the public good that always need to be questioned. Of course, beating on one’s chest and demanding one’s rights, especially at the sake of public health, is the exact opposite of the message of Christianity.

It was Jesus after all, who told His disciples to take up their cross and follow Him and to lay down their lives for their friends. Christianity is not stating that my individual liberties are being threatened (even if they are very tiny), and therefore, I will fight like hell to keep every liberty.

That is much more based on an extreme individualism that has become so overwhelming in American society and has somehow become coupled with the Christian faith. I have written more extensively about how this relates to our history. We celebrate the fact that our founding fathers started a violent revolution over no taxation without representation, and then somehow try to plaster a Christian value on it. This, of course, is the exact opposite message of the message of Jesus who told his Jewish followers not to rise up in rebellion against an empire that made the British one look charitable and humane in comparison. Perhaps it is because of that history that we have so greatly twisted the message of Christianity and have covered Jesus’ call to lay down our lives for our friends and to take up our cross for Patrick Henry’s “give me liberty or give me death.”

Sometimes the absurd becomes an actual problem. And this is the case with the religious liberty exemptions. School boards and districts should shut these ideas down right away. Christianity does not give one the right to be careless and endanger public health. In fact, its message is the very opposite.




I am an education professor in South Carolina with an emphasis in immigrant rights and peace education

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Will McCorkle

Will McCorkle

I am an education professor in South Carolina with an emphasis in immigrant rights and peace education

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