Dear NT-NL Leaders:
While I have not received a significant number of questions about religious exemptions from vaccines, the question has come up on occasion. As a parish pastor I was occasionally asked if Lutherans had a stance on religious exemptions from vaccines or if I would approve such an exemption for a parishioner.
As we know the concepts of individual choice and freedom have become hot topics for conversation during this Covid-19 pandemic. Certainly as Lutherans we stand for religious liberty and the right of the individual to stand before power to confess their faith. However, we also have a commandment from Jesus Christ that we are to love our neighbor, and as Lutherans that also means our neighbor’s needs and safety are our priority. I am grateful to Dr. Roger Willer, Director for Theological Ethics, Office of the Presiding Bishop, for the attached summary of Lutheran and ELCA social teaching on vaccination in a pandemic. This work and counsel is valuable and part of why we have a church in three expressions and do this work #InMissionTogether.