August 29, 2021

Masks in Schools: The Basics of Religious Exemptions

As we continue to see an increasing number of mask mandates in our Ohio K-12th grade schools, there is also an increased interest in how to request a religious exemption for masking. Our health freedom colleague and Executive Director of the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, Maurice Thompson, has provided foundational guidance on seeking religious exemptions for masks in school.

Requesting a religious exemption for masks in school:

  • Put effort and detail into the letter. Do not use “legalese,” such as citing cases, statutes or “Human Rights Declarations.” If the letter is rejected, refuse to send your child to school or send your child to a different school. If you are threatened with a severe penalty for refusing to send your child to school, such as the crime of truancy, for example, please forward that letter to 1851 Center for Constitutional Law.
  • If your religious exemption is thorough and considerate but denied, demand a hearing in writing immediately. If that opportunity for a hearing is denied, you may have a viable claim that the mask policy violates procedural due process rights.
  • The most important thing you can do is attempt to help yourself by sending your child to school without a mask or holding your child out of school due to the mask requirement, while ensuring that you receive clear written communications from your school officials on exactly how you will be penalized if you continue to do either.
  • If denied and once these steps are completed, contact 1851 Center for Constitutional Law and forward to them as email attachments (A) your school’s mask policy; (B) your written application for an exemption; (C) the written denial for your application; and (D) written communications from your school officials explaining the penalty for your failure to comply for the potential to litigate a qualifying case.

Other Exemption Resources:

America’s Frontline Doctors provides general “instructions to people interested in a religious exemption.”

The Informed Consent Action Network “FAQ: Exemptions to COVID-19 Vaccination” provides basic information regarding the variety of exemptions.

The Warrenton Declaration on Medical Mandates, Biblical Ethics, & Authority, composed by a group of interdenominational Christian pastors, discusses the intersection of biblical ethics, authority, and medical mandates.

The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, “A non-profit, non-partisan law firm dedicated to protecting the constitutional rights of Ohioans from government. The 1851 Center litigates constitutional issues related to property rights, taxpayer and entrepreneur rights, regulation, parental rights, and search and seizure.”