BFP Can Your Bishop Cancel Your Religious Exemption under Title VII?

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Show Notes

This is part 2 to the podcast episode earlier this week: BFP: Can your Bishop Mandate you to Risk Your Death?

Generally, the Fifth Commandment requires you with a strict obligation to do nothing that tends to destroy health or life.  Consequently it is a sin to rashly hazard one’s life, wantonly to injure one’s health, or to take one’s own life.

You must make determinations of health care by proportionate analysis of medical treatments, including all alternatives as well as doing nothing.

Taking a pill is not an invasive procedure. Receiving an injection is an invasive procedure. Generally, non invasive alternatives are preferred because they have less risks overall.

See the earlier podcast episode for links to the USCCB publication on how you are expected to follow the fifth commandment when arriving at free and informed consent and when considering medical alternatives.


Does you employer’s demand that you undergo an invasive procedure that risks your life and offers dubious benefits actually protect the workplace? Consider this news: Fully Vaccinated woman dies of COVID while on Carnival Cruise ship that was only fully vaccinated persons. The ship is like a workplace — only fully vaccinated people were there!

The Department of Defense publishes cumulative statistics:

D.O.D source:

Military Accepting Religious Exemptions

The secretary has determined — after careful consultation with medical experts and military leaders and with the support of the president — that mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for service members are necessary to protect the health and readiness of the force, Kirby said.


[…] Kirby said, adding there may also be possible exemptions on religious grounds.

DOD News: Secretary of Defense Mandates [Vaccines], Aug 25, 2021

The memo published by the is located online also.

EEOC Guidance

It’s your religious beliefs (not your bishop’s!). Title VII is interested in your sincere religious beliefs.

Generally, Title VII discussion describes it this way: “An employee’s belief or practice can be ‘religious’ under Title VII even if the employee is affiliated with a religious group that does not espouse or recognize that individual’s belief or practice, or if few – or no – other people adhere to it.”

So the law under Title VII does not care whether you bishop or Cardinal Cupich say there is no religious exemption.

2. What does Title VII mean by “religion”?

Title VII defines “religion” very broadly. It includes traditional, organized religions such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. It also includes religious beliefs that are new, uncommon, not part of a formal church or sect, or only held by a small number of people.

Some practices are religious for one person, but not religious for another person, such as not working on Saturday or on Sunday. One person may not work on Saturday for religious reasons; another person may not work on Saturday for family reasons. Under Title VII, a practice is religious if the employee’s reason for the practice is religious.

Social, political, or economic philosophies, or personal preferences, are not “religious” beliefs under Title VII.

EEOC: What You Should Know: Workplace Religious Accommodation

Visit that page to see examples and other questions. Also, there is a section that discusses what an “undue hardship” is that may prevent an employer from granting an exemption.



Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers with at least 15 employees, as well as employment agencies and unions, from discriminating in employment based on …religion…. It also prohibits retaliation against persons who complain of discrimination or participate in an EEO investigation. With respect to religion, Title VII prohibits:

* treating applicants or employees differently based on their religious beliefs or practices – or lack thereof – in any aspect of employment, including recruitment, hiring, assignments, discipline, promotion, and benefits (disparate treatment);

* subjecting employees to harassment because of their religious beliefs or practices – or lack thereof – or because of the religious practices or beliefs of people with whom they associate (e.g., relatives, friends, etc.);

* denying a requested reasonable accommodation of an applicant’s or employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs or practices – or lack thereof – if an accommodation will not impose more than a de minimis cost or burden on business operations; 1 and,

retaliating against an applicant or employee who has engaged in protected activity, including participation (e.g., filing an EEO charge or testifying as a witness in someone else’s EEO matter), or opposition to religious discrimination (e.g., complaining to human resources department about alleged religious discrimination).

EEOC: Questions and Answers: Religious Discrimination in the Workplace

that page is worth visiting. there are several gems there in the context of a religious exemption for medical treatments:

4. What constitutes religious harassment under Title VII?

Religious harassment in violation of Title VII occurs when employees are: […] (2) subjected to unwelcome statements or conduct that is based on religion and is so severe or pervasive that the individual being harassed reasonably finds the work environment to be hostile or abusive, and there is a basis for holding the employer liable.

6. When does Title VII require an employer to accommodate an applicant or employee’s religious belief, practice, or observance?

Title VII requires an employer, once on notice that a religious accommodation is needed, to reasonably accommodate an employee whose sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance conflicts with a work requirement, unless doing so would pose an undue hardship. Under Title VII, the undue hardship defense to providing religious accommodation requires a showing that the proposed accommodation in a particular case poses a “more than de minimis” cost or burden. Note that this is a lower standard for an employer to meet than undue hardship under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which is defined in that statute as “significant difficulty or expense.”

7. How does an employer learn that accommodation may be needed?

An applicant or employee who seeks religious accommodation must make the employer aware both of the need for accommodation and that it is being requested due to a conflict between religion and work.

Employer-employee cooperation and flexibility are key to the search for a reasonable accommodation. If the accommodation solution is not immediately apparent, the employer should discuss the request with the employee to determine what accommodations might be effective.

8. Does an employer have to grant every request for accommodation of a religious belief or practice?

No. Title VII requires employers to accommodate only those religious beliefs that are religious and “sincerely held,” and that can be accommodated without an undue hardship. Although there is usually no reason to question whether the practice at issue is religious or sincerely held, if the employer has a bona fide doubt about the basis for the accommodation request, it is entitled to make a limited inquiry into the facts and circumstances of the employee’s claim that the belief or practice at issue is religious and sincerely held, and gives rise to the need for the accommodation.

Factors that – either alone or in combination – might undermine an employee’s assertion that he sincerely holds the religious belief at issue include: whether the employee has behaved in a manner markedly inconsistent with the professed belief; whether the accommodation sought is a particularly desirable benefit that is likely to be sought for secular reasons; whether the timing of the request renders it suspect (e.g., it follows an earlier request by the employee for the same benefit for secular reasons); and whether the employer otherwise has reason to believe the accommodation is not sought for religious reasons.


This article, BFP Can Your Bishop Cancel Your Religious Exemption under Title VII? is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
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Bellarmine Forum

The Bellarmine Forum Podcast is Catholic commentary on anything from history, philosophy, and current events. Best viewed as an after-dinner chat.

John B. Manos

John B. Manos, Esq. is an attorney and chemical engineer. He has a dog, Fyo, and likes photography, astronomy, and dusty old books published by Benziger Brothers. He is the President of the Bellarmine Forum.