Practicing your religion is a right until it imposes on another’s rights

By Kathryn Minniti

When it comes to church and state, what should be honored first? Should state laws take a step down when it comes to our First Amendment, or should we honor the laws and beliefs that every single one of our citizens should follow?

Andrea and Paul Polydor of New York are sueing Kellenberg Memorial High School for not allowing their ninth grader to be admitted. Their son was rejected due to lack of state required vaccinations because of religious beliefs. These vaccinations are to prevent mumps, measles, hepatitis B and more.

According to Fox News, the Polydors’ letter to the school said, “We are all created in God’s image. Therefore, we must not defile our blood and our bodies with diseases and other impure substances. As the divine Architect, God designed our bodies to have immune systems that must not be defiled by vaccines.”

They also said that the vaccine would show their “lack of faith in God.”

But state laws require students to be vaccinated for the safety of our children. Kellenberg Memorial High School replied to the letter saying, “State law is very strong and very clear in its requirement that the appropriate certificate of immunization and record of physical examination must be on file at school before a student can begin attending class. There is no religious conflict to this important public health concern.”

Public health laws do, in fact, allow exceptions for people who have sincere religious beliefs toward a certain law. Their son is trying to attend a Catholic School, and it is safe to assume that usually more than half of the students attending the school are Catholic. If that is the case, then why are the other students not complaining about the vaccines? It does not make any sense that a private Catholic school would make these vaccines a requirement if it is against their own religious beliefs. Therefore, if their son is not of the same belief, it would make more sense for him to go to a school that does not make the vaccine a requirement.

As a state institution, NIU has a requirement for vaccines, as mandated by the Illinois College Student Immunization Act. I remember having to turn in my immunization records in before attending. But the law does allow for exemptions based on health or religious reasons.

But the unvaccinated ones have to take certain precautions. Karen Franzer, director of health information at Health Services said, “If for any reason a measles, mumps, rubella or diphtheria outbreak would happen on campus, you will be required to leave campus, and you couldn’t attend classes until it was deemed safe.”

This is not a safe procedure for students at NIU, though. According to the World Health Organization, the disease can be transmitted four days before the appearance of the rash. Students left unvaccinated leave all of NIU vulnerable because they are contagious before the outbreak.

I completely understand that as U.S. citizens, we were given our First Amendment rights of religious belief. But when there are over 25,000 students and faculty at risk, their health should come first.

“The child should not be allowed to attend school without vaccines; I do believe the child will make every other child vulnerable to a disease,” said nursing professor Ayhan Lash.

Alexander Bentley-Dean, junior pre-med major, agreed with Lash. He said, “I believe in the constitutional rights that were given to us as Americans, including our religion. But at the same time, if I were a parent of one of the other students, I would be trying to get this child to either get his shots or not be in this school.”

I am glad that our country allows Americans to show our own individuality and religious beliefs.

But at some point, there has to be a compromise between the rights of the individual and the health and safety of the society.

There are certain religious practices that we’ve already outlawed in America because of the danger they pose to society at large: sacrifices and female circumcision to name a few.

The rights of the individual end whether another’s begin.

With this, I believe that students should be vaccinated because of the dangers posed to society if they are not.