by Tom Hals
(Reuters) – Outside, the First Harvest Ministries Church of Waveland, Mississippi, could almost have been mistaken for a shed if it weren’t for the steeple.
From the modest building, however, Shane Vaughn, pastor of the Pentecostal Church, helps lead an online movement advocating personal faith to circumvent Covid-19 vaccination requirements in the workplace.
He sends model letters to workers across the country seeking religious dispensation that have already been downloaded from his website some 40,000 times, according to a screenshot he shared with Reuters.
“This is the only way out,” Vaughn, 48, said of the letters he makes available for free, which mix passages from the Bible with warnings to employers about legal consequences if they are ignored.
Now that the Biden government prepares a federal vaccination mandate and more states and companies enforce them to help speed the end of the pandemic, efforts by church leaders armed with charters are being supported by legal advice groups like Liberty Counsel.
The organization said it has sent more than 100 letters to companies such as United Airlines Holdings Inc and Tyson Foods Inc promising lawsuits if they wrongfully reject religious waiver requests.
United said about 2,000 of its 67,000 US employees have asked for religious or medical discharge. Tyson said that only a “small percentage” of its 100,000+ employees did so before the Nov. 1 deadline.
(By Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware)
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