URGENT! NJ Religious Exemption Threatened by Vote on Thurs., Feb. 17!

February 15, 2011

The Honorable Chris Christie
Office of the Governor
P. O. Box 001
Trenton, NJ 08625


Dear Governor Christie:

This Thursday, February 17, parental vaccination choice and religious freedom in New Jersey face their greatest challenge and this is due to active obstruction of the legislative process. We know you have little patience for dirty politics. We are asking for your help.

As you know, because you called on me during the town hall meeting Q&A in Middletown a few weeks ago, our bill A2450, the Conscientious Exemption to Mandatory Immunization (the personal belief exemption), was moving. You told the people assembled that you remembered my meeting with you and your campaign promise to support parental vaccination choice. You know how hard we are working. You said you were aware our bill was moving and you would keep an eye on it.

A2450 has just been abruptly stopped, without reason, by unnamed “General Assembly leadership.” It was to have been posted for a vote in the Assembly Education Committee on February 10. Instead, it was pulled. When I called Education Committee chair Pat Diegnan, his chief of staff told me that Health Committee chair Herb Conaway was “furious” with the “mixed message” being sent and demanded that A2450 be pulled from the agenda.


Instead and extraordinarily, Asm Conaway is advancing an Assembly Concurrent Resolution (ACR 157) to push for tighter guidelines on what would constitute a “valid religious exemption.” The General Assembly will vote on ACR 157 this Thursday. Asm Conaway objects to a 2008 letter issued by the NJDHSS that states: “When a parent or guardian submits their written religious exemption… which contains some religious reference, those persons charged with implementing administrative rules…should not question whether the parent’s professed religious statement… is acceptable…”

The right to a personal relationship with our God is a First Amendment protection. I know you understand this; you proudly identify your own religious faith. Rarely do faith and civic duty conflict. We urge you to help us protect this important right that allows parents to uphold their religious convictions. In New York State, school board lawyers interrogate parents on how they interpret Scripture. I can send you a video of one such “sincerity trial.” One would think we had returned to the Middle Ages. If ACR 157 passes on Thursday, we are well on our way to becoming a “witch hunt” state. Thousands of parents implore you to use your executive authority and leadership position to support parental rights and send a strong message that this kind of dirty pool doesn’t happen under your watch. Thank you.

Louise Kuo Habakus

The text of Assembly Concurrent Resolution (ACR 157):

http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2010/Bills/ACR/157_I1.HTM   html format

http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2010/Bills/ACR/157_I1.PDF   pdf format


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