nurse with syringe

A recent editorial by Dr. Michael Lederman of the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, entitled “Defeat COVID-19 by Requiring Vaccination for All: It’s Not Un-American, It’s Patriotic,” asserts:

  1. “To win the war against the novel coronavirus that has now killed over 158,000 people in this country, the only answer is compulsory vaccination—for all of us. And while the measures that will be necessary to defeat the coronavirus will seem draconian, even anti-American to some, we believe that there is no alternative. Simply put, getting vaccinated is going to be our patriotic duty.”
  2. “Do not honor religious objections. The major religions do not officially oppose vaccinations.”
  3. “Vaccine refusers could lose tax credits or be denied non-essential government benefits.”
  4. “Private businesses could refuse to employ or serve unvaccinated individuals, schools could refuse to allow unimmunized children to attend classes, public and commercial transit companies—airlines, trains and buses—could exclude refusers.”
  5. “The only legal limitation on government or private action is that it not be discriminatory, and it’s hard to see how discrimination would occur if vaccinations were free and accessible to all.”

In reply:

  1. The claim that universal compulsory vaccination is “the only answer … no alternative” contradicts the widely known and substantially documented medical facts that some vaccines are effective for some people some of the time and that some vaccines are not effective for some people some of the time and that some vaccines are harmful to some people some of the time. Clearly the opinion writer’s use of “only … no alternative” overstates the medical research that leans in his favor while ignoring the medical research that tilts against his position. In a word: bias.
  2. The refusal to honor religious objections flies in the face of the First Amendment’s Free Exercise clause, which the U.S. Supreme Court references in terms of “fundamental rights” that are entitled to “strict scrutiny protection.” Furthermore, the claim that major religions have no objection to vaccines is irrelevant to the constitutional rights of anyone who professes a “minor” religion that does have an objection to vaccines. For example, the use of aborted (and at times vivisected) human fetal tissue in the development and mass-production of many vaccines raises grave moral concerns that are relevant to those religions that still take grave moral concerns seriously; even if such religions are a minority, it should be remembered that Madison envisioned the Constitution as a protector of minority rights against the “tyranny of the majority.”
  3. The proposal to deny government benefits to those who refuse vaccination violates the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Furthermore, the vagueness of “government benefits” leaves the reader wondering why Stafford loans for college students, housing subsidies for low-income families, tax credits for charitable donors, military pensions for veterans, Medicaid-funded nursing homes for the elderly, 911 dialing access for anyone in an emergency, or universal healthcare access (regardless of pre-existing conditions) should be denied a person who has not been vaccinated. The proposed sanctions lack any rational relation to the supposed crime. In simple terms: that’s unfair.
  4. The proposal that private enterprises would be free to exclude unvaccinated persons from public accommodations violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, which guarantees to all persons equal participation to the greatest extent possible. And if you’re wondering what sort of medical condition would render vaccination to be medically counter-indicated for your neighbor, please don’t ask: federal penalties apply to those who violate someone’s medical privacy, even if unintentionally.
  5. Finally, what about the statement to the effect that it somehow would not be discriminatory to deny unvaccinated persons government benefits or private services offered to the general public? The author must rely upon an ad-hoc redefinition of “discrimination,” as if discrimination on the basis of vaccination status or the underlying medical or religious justification for one’s vaccination status somehow is not “discrimination.” Call this spade a spade: Arbitrary circular reasoning.

In summary, if there really is a logically valid, factually based, compelling argument to force vaccination upon everyone, then it isn’t found in that opinion-writer’s feeble attempt. And, if you ever do find such an argument elsewhere, Dr. Lederman also is wrong on another score: it won’t be American. No matter the apparent emergency, totalitarianism runs counter to the health of our human nature. As America’s founding creed insisted, life is not to be purchased at the price of liberty and property, but rather all three inalienable rights are to be protected together out of reverent fear of the One who created us so.


Dr. Ryan C. MacPherson is the founding president of Into Your Hands LLC and the author of several books, including Rediscovering the American Republic (2 vols.) and Debating Evolution before Darwinism. He lives with his wife Marie and their homeschooled children in Casper, Wyoming, where he serves as Academic Dean at Luther Classical College. He previously taught American history, history of science, and bioethics at Bethany Lutheran College, 2003–2023 He also serves as President of the Hausvater Project, which mentors Christian parents. For more information, visit

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