The Freedom From Religion Foundation denounces Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s irresponsible new order banning any entity in the state, including private businesses, from requiring employees or customers to be vaccinated.
Abbott’s overreach applies to hospitals, day cares, assisted living facilities and retirement homes, where some of the most vulnerable people live and work, and directly contravenes the Biden administration’s mandates that health care workers, most federal contractors and employees in companies with 100 or more workers must be vaccinated or undergo weekly tests. Vaccine mandates themselves have been held constitutional for more than a century. Ironically, Abbott, who is denying employers the right to keep their workplaces safe, said just a few weeks ago that “private businesses don't need government running their business.” FFRF is heartened to see major airlines rejecting Abbott’s order. Legal experts indicate Abbott’s order does not supersede President Biden’s mandates.
Unfortunately, the governor of Texas isn’t alone. Anti-science, pro-pandemic governors are working to keep America mired in the muck of a lethal pandemic. At every turn, these invariably religious public officials seem more bent on extending, rather than exterminating, the coronavirus when they should be using science to stop it.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a state law in May actually instituting fines for businesses requiring customers to provide proof of vaccination. DeSantis, in opposing masking in public schools, even set up a neovoucher program to reward Covid superspreaders.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has issued a statement saying, “Arizona does not allow mask mandates, vaccine mandates, vaccine passports or discrimination in schools based on who is or isn’t vaccinated.” This has created untold hardships on public schools and universities trying to keep students safe. In a state where public education is plagued by voucher and neovoucher programs that undercut the public school budget, Ducey’s deadly maneuvering includes inventing a scheme that funnels federal Covid-19 relief funds into anti-science, anti-mask, anti-vaxx schools (e.g., private Christian schools).
In South Dakota, Gov. Kristi Noem’s noxious nonactions made the state the most lethally infected jurisdiction in the world for a while. If Noem spent less time trying to ban abortion and convert the state into a theocracy and more time listening to doctors and scientists, more South Dakotans would be alive today.
“Abbott, DeSantis, Ducey and Noem are like the four horsemen of the apocalypse — if they were all Pestilence,” quips FFRF Co-President Dan Barker.
Praise is deserved for the governors who are following the science, including California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who issued early mandates and is the first governor to now mandate that all eligible public school students must be vaccinated. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is fighting anti-vaxxer health care professionals in court, who very recently won a round in seeking religious exemptions. The all-Christian plaintiffs contend the use of vaccines is linked to fetal cell lines, and oppose vaccinations as “a matter of religious conviction.” Fortunately, a federal judge in Manhattan rejected an injunction sought by public school employees there in a similar case opposing vaccination requirements. (To read more about why vaccine mandates are constitutional and religious exemptions are unnecessary and harmful, read this recent op-ed by FFRF Director of Strategic Response Andrew L. Seidel.)
The pandemic has now killed more Americans than the Spanish Flu of 1918-19. There is no hell, but if there were, surely there would be a special place for public officials who abuse their power to harm, rather than help others. Constituents deserve better.