A viral video making the rounds on social media is bringing attention to what’s being described as a growing trend of people who oppose COVID-19 vaccine mandates exercising their religious exemptions as a way to skirt the rules.
The effectiveness of that method may be another story.
The video in question was apparently recorded in a New York restaurant and opens with a worker there telling a family that he can not serve them unless they show proof of vaccination. The person filming the video, a man, responds in part by telling the employee that refusing him service based on vaccination status means he “is going to enforce segregation because we just told you that we are religiously exempt.”
After the worker repeats that the family must leave, the man addresses the restaurant’s other patrons.
“Everybody in here OK with that?” the man asked loudly as other patrons look over uneasily. “Everybody OK with setting segregation in society? Everybody’s OK with that?”
He continued” “We don’t have our vaccine cards so the kids can’t eat. You guys are OK with that? This is the America you guys want to live in?”
A random “yep” can be heard as one restaurant-goer being filmed flashes the middle finger at the camera, indications that the father causing a commotion was bothering other diners.
The father, who appeared to be brown, then curses at the man who held up his middle finger and questioned his nationality.
“You’re not American!” the father yelled in front of his young children. “That’s why you need to get the f*ck out of here!”
The father’s meltdown continued.
“This is America, and in America, everybody can eat!” he screamed.
When the mother claims the restaurant “didn’t ask other people for their vaccination cards,” one patron said she was wrong.
But the father said “that’s not the point” and continued with his tirade.
“I told you that we were religiously exempt,” he said while pointing at the restaurant worker who asked them to leave.
Watch the unfortunate scene unfold below.
The father said the restaurant is legally obligated to accept their stated religious exemption and serve them, but that’s where things get slightly confusing as both residents and establishments are getting used to new COVID-19-related mandates, such as vaccination cards.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said last month that “those quote-unquote ‘exemptions’ are not going to be honored.” He added: “Leaders of veritably every faith tradition have stepped forward and encouraged vaccination.”
The New York Daily News described invoking religious exemptions for the vaccine as a “ploy.”
The New York Times recently reported on the topic and found it to be unclear what constitutes a religious exemption in the first place and suggested the practice was popular among those who are “vaccine resistant.”
The Associated Press reported that the rise of religious exemptions correlated with the growing impositions of COVID-19 vaccine requirements and noted they’re likely to keep increasing as President Joe Biden’s workplace mandates begin.
That is to speak nothing of the growing movement of parents seeking medical exemptions to keep their school-aged children from wearing masks in class.
The combination of the proliferation of the coronavirus and the growing movement against the COVID-19 vaccination — either via religious exemptions or just plain abstention — suggest that the pandemic could be here in the U.S. much longer than anybody would like, even anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers.
This is America.