Missouri officials’ use of an opt-out form that encourages the vaccination of children does not violate religious-freedom rights, a federal court has ruled.

Missouri law allows religious exemptions for otherwise mandatory childhood vaccinations, but requires parents to fill out a document known as “Form 11” requesting an exemption. A group of parents at a Kansas City charter school complained, arguing that even the act of completing the form violated their religious rights, in part because the form includes a message from the state Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) promoting childhood vaccinations.

That language, the parents insisted, was “motivated by religious hostility against the religious objections to vaccinations.” But the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri rejected the parents’ argument.

U.S. District Judge Howard F. Sachs found that Form 11 is “entirely secular in nature and not hostile to religion.”

Observed Sachs, “For instance, it would not be hostile to a religious objection to eating pork for an agency to certify that pork is safe to eat. The certification, like the DHSS language here, is religiously neutral.”

The case is G.B. v. Crossroads Academy-Central Street.


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