Tag Archives: Deborah Hommer

No Exceptions to the Free Exercise Clause

by Deborah Hommer

Many states, including Virginia, have a religious exemption to the requirement of vaccines based upon sincerely held religious beliefs. However, Virginia’s exemption has a big hole. The Code of Virginia (§ 32.1-48) states that during epidemics the state Commissioner of Health can mandate vaccinations for “all persons” except those whose health might be compromised.

HB 306 introduced by Delegate Nick Freitas, R-Culpeper, would amend the code to maintain the religious exemption during epidemics. The bill passed out of the Health, Welfare, and Institutions Committee 12-9. Now it heads to the House.

States, Congress, and the Supreme Court have a long history of protecting the Free Exercise Cause that is contained in the First Amendment. The Supreme Court case Abington School District v. Schempp determined, “The Free Exercise Clause . . . withdraws from legislative power, state and federal, the exertion of any restraint on the free exercise of religion. Its purpose is to secure religious liberty in the individual by prohibiting any invasions there by civil authority.” Continue reading

Dressing Up Garbage

by Deborah Hommer

In the fall of 2020 news media were highlighting the drastic increase in suicide/mental health issues among teenagers. Most accounts blamed the social isolation resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

I think there’s more to it than that. 

Our 9th grader’s required English book last year celebrated two teens who had to learn the “art of killing” in a dystopian world. One teen stated, “It is the most difficult thing a person can be asked to do. And knowing that it is for the greater good doesn’t make it any easier. … The ending of life used to be in the hands of nature. … We are its sole distributor .. how necessary the work is.” (“Scythe” by Neal Shusterman).

Three years ago, our 12th grader’s required English book, “Jazz” by Toni Morrison, contained sexual activity between a man and an older teenage girl, a father stomped to death, a mother burned, revenge, obsession, and fantasy killing. The other required book, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” by Tennessee Williams, contained alcoholism, homosexuality, sodomy, frustrated sexuality, infidelity, jealousy, seduction, lying, insulting remarks, and threats to kill.

Could there be a connection? Continue reading