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Supprt H.R. 2832 "Comprehensive Comparative Study of Vaccinated and Unvaccinated Populations Act of 2007"

Emaill to: All Concerned Parents
Date: July 16, 2008
from Rita Palma
Subject: Religious Waivers

Go to www.schoolhealthservicesny.com and click on 'Laws and Guidelines.'  Scroll down to 'Immunizations'.

The memo from James R. Butterworth is important. It's clear intent is to offer guidelines that do not include interrogations. A school that subjects someone to a sincerity interview is violating the spirit of this memo. The guidelines also make it clear that the school principal needs to coordinate the whole transaction-- this was not followed by my district.

Does this mean the school can't question you in person? The memo does not specifically say they CANNOT, but the clear intent is to keep the transaction in document form. If a school does ignore the spirit of the memo, the issue should be litigated in court as I am doing.

But as far as what other parents do... if you are applying for a waiver, BE SURE to read the information on this memo and include the proper paperwork with your letter expressing your religious views. The schools may not know this memo exists. Educating them can only benefit both sides. At the very least, the whole transaction can be kept in written form, sparing parent's the stress and expense of an in-person grilling.

Questions? Let me know!

Rita M. Palma
Dedicated to Informed Rights of Parents


You’ve researched. You’ve considered the risks and benefits and you want to make your own decision regarding vaccinations.

There are three exemptions in the US—medical, religious and philosophical. All states have medical. A medical exemption to all of the vaccines is difficult to obtain, though you may be able to get an exemption for one or two. Understand also, the Department of Health can override you July 17, 2008 Forty-eight states (all except W. Virginia and Mississippi) have religious and 19 have philosophical. New York does not have a philosophical exemption - yet. We can change that- SUPPORT THE "PHILOSOPHICAL EXEMPTION" BILL (Bills A05468, S3031)

Read NYSED "Public Health Law - Title VI - Section 2164." The law provides, “(the law) shall not apply to children whose parent, parents or guardian holds genuine and sincere religious beliefs which are contrary to the practices herein required (immunizations), and no certificate shall be required as a prerequisite to such children being admitted or received into school or attending school.”

In other words, you may apply for a religious waiver by submitting a Religious Exemption to Immunization Form to your school building principal. Most of the time, you will need to include a personal letter with the form.

Your beliefs have to be truly religious and they have to be sincerely held. This is a ‘two-tier’ test. The first one is genuinely religious in nature.

Most people I talk with hear "religious exemption" and panic, “I haven’t been to church in six years. And I have an issue with the Catholic Church.”

First, you do not have to be a member of an organized religion. Second, the above can be true and you can still believe in religious principles that directly connect to the rejection of vaccines. In fact, I believe it’s impossible to have a conversation about rejecting vaccines without mentioning God and Faith. You just need to find the correct words to express religious thoughts and concepts that connect to refusing vaccinations.

The Bible states, “Praise the Lord who forgives all sins and heals all diseases.Psalm 103: David

This line of scripture expresses a simple idea; placing Faith in the healing power of God can cure disease. I believe the immune system is a gift from God. Inviting disease into a gift from God disrespects His divine gift to us, corrupts the body and consequently the soul. It separates from a Faith we have in God that he can cure all diseases.

The following further illustrates this point:

“As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him. For I have kept the ways of the Lord, I have not done evil by turning from God.”

Additionally, vaccinations are fear-based and founded on a threatening principle. Mankind says that if I do not vaccinate, my child may get sick/die and may cause others to get sick/die. This idea is far away from the peace that God represents for me and the love He encourages us to feel for humankind. The pessimistic principle of vaccinations contradicts the love I feel for my fellowman as an instrument of Jesus Christ. Participating in the spiritually dark (and diseased) process of vaccines disconnects me from my mission to connect with God. To participate in this dark and diseased process gives energy and credence to harm and disease and offends my faith. For me, Jesus is about hope, love, optimism, peace and contentment.

Scripture that illustrates my feelings:

“The Lord turns my darkness into light.”

God said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever, follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”
“There is no fear in love, but the perfect love (I have for my God and my children) drives out fear.”

John 4:18 “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.”

“God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity but of power, love and self-discipline.”

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life promised to those who love him.”

To me, this means that God needs us to persevere through disease, have Faith in His Supreme healing powers and know that addressing sickness will make us grow stronger.

“What if I am asked if I give my children medicine when they are sick? Or I give them vitamins?”

First, if they start asking you questions, make sure you have legal representation. Do not go into a taped meeting without an attorney or an advocate. Second, explain to school officials that injecting disease into a healthy body and helping a body in crisis are two very different actions.

Medicine helps a body in crisis; medicine is an optimistic hope for restored health. Medicine and vitamins work for the goal of maintenance/restoration of health and vitality.

Vaccinations are diseases injected into the blood anticipating sickness. Accepting disease into a healthy body turns your back on the gift of the immune system that God has blessed you with; inviting this disease will only bring more disease. Hope for, and pursuit of, good health is different from accepting and preventing disease.

The foundations of these principles are completely different. Medicine and vitamins do not disrespect the gift God has given us.

Helping a body in crisis has nothing to do with "interference, " and "substituting man's power," with the healing power of God. Sometimes school district attorneys will try to trip you up by using these words and altering your presentation of your belief system. This is so they can claim your objections to vaccinations are based on medical or philosophical grounds. DO NOT let them lead you down that road.

They may claim that it is illogical to use medicines and vitamins if God can heal all diseases. Repeat, "Restoring health to a body in crisis is different from injecting disease into a healthy body." If they repeat the question, offer the same answer, over and over again. We found the need to repeat ourselves numerous times during our interview.

The attorney who interviewed me and my husband claimed we used the words, "substitute" and, "interference," during our meeting. Upon review of the tape, it was evident we did not.

“But my kids have already had some vaccinations.”

Society puts a tremendous amount of pressure to vaccinate. Doctors pressure, even threaten, parents who refuse to vaccinate. Some pediatricians will not take unvaccinated children as patients.

Parents may ostracize others who do not vaccinate. Family members will also tell parents who want to follow their Faith, they’re “crazy.” Many parents understandably give in to the pressure.

Parents have told me that God sent them signs for years that vaccinations were not part of God’s plan. These parents did not listen until, in a conversation with God at a deceased loved one’s grave, they felt compelled by the spirit of God to follow the signs and their faith. They explained to the school that it took a long time to follow the signs from God and their true Faith, but their resolve is now strong and they will not turn their back on God. "Many parents ask Jesus Christ for forgiveness for not following what they knew in their heart to be His word to them."

“I don’t think my religious beliefs are anyone’s business.”

Schools have the legal power to compel you to prove to them your beliefs are sincere and genuine. When determining your sincerity, they are permitted to consider your forthrightness and demeanor. That means you must COOPERATE. It does not help you to be defiant or righteous, it actually harms you. They have all the power.

If they deny you, you can appeal the decision through the Commissioner of Education (he usually sides with the school) and/or the State and Federal Court Systems. The Courts consider the attitude and overall demeanor and the forthrightness of the complainant. It helps you to be completely cooperative because it can make you look like David and them Goliath. The school has virtually unlimited funds- your tax dollars and those of your community members. Most taxpayers do not.

“My first school accepted a letter. Don’t all schools do that?”

No. The law is broad and schools have the power to interpret it in any way they see fit. I was denied my waiver, yet in the next town over, religious waivers are no more than a letter in the nurse’s office. Most schools accept a letter. If they do not stop at the letter, it is imperative to set the proper groundwork so you will ultimately prevail in higher courts of law.

“What if I get called in for an interview?”

Find an attorney or I will accompany parents on a “sincerity interview” for a fee. I would suggest you bring your own tape recorder and set aside several hours beforehand to prepare yourself for the questions that may be asked. I will help prepare you as part of the interview fee.

“What happens if I get denied?”

You can appeal to the Commissioner of Education, the State Court and/or the Federal Court system. The Commissioner of Education usually upholds the school district’s decision. You have the best chance with Federal Court, as they will most likely adhere to the Federal Supremacy Rule, but that is also an expensive route.

You may select an attorney or pursue an organization that helps with civil rights and/or religious freedom issues, i.e. the ACLU or Liberty Counsel to name two resources. If I have helped you write your letter, I will also help you interest the ACLU or Liberty Counsel in your case. If they will not help, I have other attorneys that can help you.

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