I must take issue with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s current vaccine mandate for COVID-19 protection: There is absolutely no valid reason for her to grant religious exemptions.

Unlike Saudi Arabia and some other countries, we are a people governed by a constitution and laws, not by a religious code.

Those who claim that the constitution’s First Amendment “free exercise” clause exempts them from following the law because their opposition is based on their religious beliefs are kidding themselves, as well as the rest of us.

After all, I doubt that such individuals would countenance the practices of a religion which chose to sacrifice a willing virgin to its god or execute a blasphemer of their god.

What makes the claim to a religious exemption truly a (possibly political) smokescreen is that no major religion has forbidden the use of vaccines though, naturally, some individual clerics advocate otherwise.

In any case, those who believe in a constitutional religious exemption based on the “free exercise” clause should be careful what they wish for.

They should consider the possibility that a religious exemption will be constitutionally challenged as a violation of the First Amendment’s “establishment clause.”

Should such a challenge be successful, tax exemptions and other current elements of preferential treatment of religions could disappear.

If one opposes the mandatory use of vaccines for religious or any other reason, the proper forum for dispute is the same as for mandatory taxes, draft registration and driver’s licenses. That is the political forum.

If you don’t like a law or duly enacted regulation, contact your legislative representatives. If you win, those who disagree with you will be obliged to follow the law you advocate for, just as you are obliged to follow a law you oppose.

If your conscience impels you to make a statement by flouting the law, then you can do so. Just don’t complain that you were wronged and, please, don’t blame the messenger who enforces the law.

Asher Zelig
Rio Rancho