Open Letter from Rhode Island Clergy to Our State’s Leadership

 

To Governor McKee and Our Elected Representatives,

 

Regarding the vaccine mandate for our medical professionals: We, the pastors and spiritual leaders of our congregations and community leaders, are writing this letter to register our profound disagreement with this administration in their handling of religious liberties and Constitutional freedoms throughout this pandemic. We wholeheartedly believe that members of our churches and citizens of our communities who served through the worst of the pandemic as “essential workers” should not now be discarded by the very institutions they upheld with their tireless efforts simply because they have religious, rational and reasonable objections to a vaccine surrounded by conflicting professional opinions and uncertainties.

 

We stand with them against the mandate of forced vaccinations as a condition of employment from the state government. This is a clear violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects against workplace discrimination because of a person’s sincerely held religious beliefs. We believe this is an act of coercion that betrays the foundational principles of freedom of religion and conscience that the state of Rhode Island was founded upon. Many of our medical professionals find themselves in the unconscionable situation of not only losing their jobs, but their livelihood also, as their medical licenses are threatened by politicized medical boards under undue pressure from above. We have heard no statement on the reasoning for revoking religious exemptions from this administration, there has been no public debate, and the

outcry has fallen on deaf ears.

 

Please understand that this is not a stand against the vaccine itself. Many in our congregations have made their own decision to take the vaccine, especially those most at-risk. Many of us are pro-vaccine, but all of us are certainly anti-coercion. The lack of dialogue on this subject is concerning, and the lack of clarity concerning the future strategy around government mandated injections as a condition of employment is unacceptable. One of the foundational precepts this nation was founded upon was the freedom of religion, a tenet that has come under attack more than any other during this difficult season. Our churches were shuttered, our priests barred from visiting the sick and dying, members of our congregations having to bury their loved ones alone—all of this mandated to us from the federal and state government.

 

Now, members of our congregation, the ones who faithfully served through the worst, are being fired and stripped of their licenses to practice their profession by politicians, without any recourse. Years of schooling and training for their profession now used as a pressure point to submit to government mandates. This, in our view, is beyond what is acceptable from those who govern, and we are formally registering our disagreement with this decision. The religious rights of our teachers, firefighters, medical personnel, mental health professionals along with every other Rhode Islander should not be infringed. We are asking that this oversight be redressed, and members of our community be treated with dignity and respect, and the religious freedom provided to them by our Constitution.

 

Simply put:

  • The reasons for or against deciding which substances are injected into our bodies must be honored including our religious liberties and Constitutional freedoms.

  • Frontline workers that literally laid their lives on the line during the worst of this pandemic cannot now be discarded.

  • Community Leaders, Pastors, Priests, Legislative Leaders, Medical Professionals, Firefighters, Police, Teachers and Healthcare Workers should not be forced to march in lockstep to a government mandate or lose their jobs and livelihoods.

 

Respectfully submitted from the community leaders signed below,

 

Reverend Stephen V. Boyce

Pastor Jordan Boyce

Pastor Ron Termale

Associate Pastor David de la Cruz

Associate Pastor Michael Corcoran

Senior Pastor Mike Woodward

Senior Pastor John Wheeler

Pastor Jon Angell

Pastor Jim Shekylton

Pastor Shane Parsons

Senior Pastor Tim Hatch

Pastor David Rodriguez

State Rep. for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Assoc., Chris Neale

Moreh/Pastor Ely Hernandez

Pastor Zach Lenz

Pastor Bryan Speroni

Pastor Ken Postle

Pastor Peter Sanburn

Chaplain Chris Adams

Pastor Erny Francisco

Pastor Anthony Aquino

Pastor and Director David Aucoin

Pastor Stephen Mook

Pastor Diane Cola Caracciolo

Pastor Samuel Francisco 

Pastor Alex Rodriguez

Pastor Hector Cabrera 

Pastor Rafael Martinez

Pastor Aldolfo Pichardo

Pastor Carlos Ramirez

Pastor Josue Tineo

Pastor Barbara Holmes Brackett

Pastor Chris MacEwen

Pastor Robert Fusco 

Pastor Jim Sole

Associate Pastor David Bushway

Pastor Douglas Crandall

Pastor Diana Parente

Elder Terri Shaffer

Deacon Richard Lapierre

Worship Leader Tim Lutz Jr.

Pastor Jonathan Juneau

Pastor Kaleb Hall

Worship Director Michael Nina

Rabbi Brian Samuel

Reverend Ronald Camara

Pastor Daniel Jarstfer

Worship Pastor Justin Cotoia

Deaconess Anne Armstrong

Associate Pastor Raymond Gambuto III

Lead Pastor Tony Palow

Pastor John Ricci

Pastor Heidi Rogers

Associate Pastor Mike Caforio

Children’s Pastor Misipaga Pese

Senior Pastor Mynor Vargas

Pastor ​​RobertLavallee

Pastor Rich Chapman

Senior Pastor Carlos Orellana

Pastor Joanna Orellana

Pastor Allen Pangburn

Brother John Savage

Founding Pastor David Gadoury

Senior Pastor Keith Mlyniec

Senior Pastor Charles Cabral

Pastor Richard Leahey

Worship Pastor Sly Pichette

Senior Pastor Jay Stirnemann

Father James Jackson, FSSP

Pastor Juvencio Dasilva

Pastor John Dias

Pastor Charles Fields

Pastor Gary Coleman

Pastor Robert Burnock

Senior Pastor David Stall

Senior Pastor Caleb Morgan

Lead Pastor Ed Pichette

Assoc. Pastor Travis Rymer

Senior Pastor Luis E. Suarez

Pastor David Torres

Pastor Rick Luz

Rev. Thomas Turner

Pastor Lori Termale

Pastor Einar Yessi

Pastor David Marquard

Worship Leader Mike Zompa

Minister Jason Lee

Father Brendan Rowley

Pastor David Therrien

Rev. Patricia Camara

Pastor Antonio Parente

Pastor Robert Caracciolo

Pastor John Gagne

Pastor Stephen Horridge

Father Brian Sistare

Worship Leader Nathan Daniel

Chaplain JoAnn Liberty

Minister of Music Sarah Vaas

Senior Pastor Jake Goncalves

Pastor John Lawson

Pastor Eugene Giguere

Pastor Joseph Vallese

Marketplace Minister Rosalina Czarnomski

Minister Michael Ives

Pastor Steven Bacon

Father Henryk Wos

Pastor Steven Martel

Pastor Rick Bringhurst

Family Pastor Justin Heim

Team Leader August Boylan

Father Joseph Brice

Bishop Jeffery Williams

Senior Pastor Rudolph Moseley

Pastor Lisa Sfameni

Pastor Richard Sfameni

Pastor Matthew McIntosh

G.K. Curtis Frederick

Pastor Jacob McGuire