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Rep. Ralph Norman and Rep. Ashley Hinson Introduce Religious Freedom Over Mandates Act

On Tuesday, Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC-05) and Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-IA-01) introduced the Religious Freedom Over Mandates Act. This legislation would prohibit the use of federal funds from being used to keep records or a database of religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccination requirements.
Throughout 2021, the Biden Administration attempted to implement several vaccination mandates, which brought legal challenges on multiple fronts. The OSHA mandate, for example, was recently stayed by the U.S. Supreme Court. Meanwhile, a separate mandate for millions of federal employees and contractors is still working its way through the courts.
Despite the ultimate outcomes of these legal challenges, this legislation would prohibit federal funds from being used "to establish, operate, maintain, or support any system of records" for individuals who seek a religious exemption from a federal COVID-19 vaccine requirement. This means federal funds could not be used to maintain any records of an individual's request for a faith-based exemption, such as his/her religion, religious beliefs, or religious justification for the exemption. This would also preclude the government from using taxpayer dollars to create a religious registry based on COVID-19 vaccine exemption requests.

This legislation has received the support of both FreedomWorks and Heritage Action for America.
“The ability for individuals to openly practice their faith without fear of retribution is a precious right we must guard closely,” said Rep. Norman. “As if overreaching government vaccine mandates aren’t bad enough, it is highly inappropriate for federal dollars to be used to collect information about someone's religious beliefs. The only way to prevent this information from being abused is to prevent its collection in the first place, and I thank Rep. Hinson for joining me in this effort.”
Congresswoman Hinson added, “Those who choose not to get the COVID-19 vaccine for religious reasons should be able to do so without fear of the government putting their information in a database. Any form of database tracking religious beliefs flies in the face of our First Amendment—U.S. citizens are guaranteed the right to make their own medical decisions without fear of government reprisal. The Religious Freedom Over Mandates Act will ensure that no federal funding is used to track those who opt for a religious exemption from the COVID-19 vaccines.”