Politics

Ivy League Bioethics Prof: Vaccine Religious Exemptions Are Bogus

In a brutally frank discussion on CNN on Sept. 18, the director of the “Masters of Bioethics Program” at Columbia University declared that “religious exemptions are a major problem” in ensuring that every American receives the coronavirus vaccine and that the Biden administration must act against the use of them as ways of avoiding the jab.

Robert Klitzman is a professor of “clinical psychiatry” at the New York City Ivy League university, along with his aforementioned ethicist title. He appeared on Michael Smerconish’s CNN program to expound on a theme he has been hammering home repeatedly in big-box media outlets of late: Religious exemptions to the coronavirus vaccine are essentially a con and must be sharply curtailed.

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GettyImages-1186564930 Robert Klitzman (middle)

Peter Kayafas, Robert Klitzman and Charlie Bieber attends The Jerome Robbins Dance Division 75th Anniversary Gala at The New York Public Library for Performing Arts on December 4, 2019 in New York. (Photo by Patrick McMullan/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

“We believe in religious freedom in this country, but we also believe, as [Supreme Court] Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. said, that your freedom of speech, your freedom, ends at the point at which you yell fire falsely in a crowded theater,” Klitzman told the host.

This hackneyed analogy highlights the remarkable trend among prominent public vaccine cheerleaders of painting those who refuse to get their shot as criminals. Former Planned Parenthood president Leana Wen, who now serves as a “medical analyst” for CNN and a columnist for a major Washington, D.C. newspaper, has likened being unvaccinated to driving drunk. Rather than becoming the subject of widespread ridicule, her contention has drawn much applause in pro-vax circles.

To further discredit the notion of religious liberty, Klitzman then brought up Muslim jihadists who believe in killing infidels. And why not? No comparison is too over the top when dealing with the new lepers that are the unvaccinated today.

“So there are limits in our society to how far religious beliefs can go,” Klitzman proclaimed. “And I should add that Judeo-Christian faiths all say we should also love our neighbors, and help other people, and care for our parents and our children. And not getting a vaccine puts these people in danger.”

See what he did there? In one breath, Klitzman declares that your religious beliefs don’t matter and in the next he defines what appropriate religious beliefs are. A bioethics professor at Columbia is perfectly comfortable with granting himself the authority to make this call.

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Klitzman was repeating themes he spelled out in a Sept. 1 op-ed in The Los Angeles Times. “If we do not close this loophole now, loosely drawn religious exemptions from vaccination mandates will contribute to ever more sickness and death,” he bluntly wrote in that piece.

At the end of their conversation, Smerconish set Klitzman up by sweepingly stating that all major religions in the world are pro-vaccine, therefore anyone who says they are religious must be as well. “So where no major religion is anti-vax, and I’m hearing anecdotally and most troublesome, among health care providers, that all of a sudden people are, you know, finding religion,” Smerconish says. “It seems disproportionate. Right? There aren’t that many folks known to be following religions other than the major denominations – suddenly asserting….”

“I think people are using it as an excuse,” Klitzman replies. “People are saying I just don’t want a vaccine, be it because of my political views or I don’t want someone jabbing me in the arm. But we need to remember that by not getting a vaccine we are putting other people in danger. We have thousands of Americans dying every day of COVID. And we can stop this pandemic if we get everyone vaccinated. And I think religious exemptions are a major problem in getting that done.” Smerconish crisply ends the segment by chirping: “Amen to that, pun intended.”

And a Hallelujah to our new priesthood.

Is it going too far to point out that Klitzman, who sees himself as wholly qualified to make sweeping judgments about the religious sincerity of individual Americans, also has written explicitly in favor of physician-assisted suicide and research conducted via the harvesting of fetal stem cells? Somehow his moral umpiring in the medical realm always seems to fall on the ruling establishment side.

We were warned for decades by various philosophers, novelists and others: As religion is more and more eclipsed in our society, credentialed professionals will step into the void to issue decrees that will be adhered to with theological fervor.

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So who is Robert Klitzman? His official Columbia bio notes that he has received a fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation, is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and is on the Research Ethics Advisory Panel of the Defense Department. “He has been interviewed about [bioethical] issues widely by the media, including the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal… NPR, PBS, CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC, the BBC and others.”

In other words, he’s connected. Oh, but we can do better than that.

Klitzman is also a member of the tony Aspen Institute’s Science & Society Program Advisory Council. Under the heading, “Support for the Science & Society Program comes in part from,” the first thing one sees is a giant logo for Big Pharma behemoth and coronavirus vaccine manufacturer Johnson & Johnson.

Defending and promoting the medical and scientific establishment is literally the stated aim of the council. “Scientific research and innovation are principally responsible for decades of economic growth, medical advances, and enhanced national security. Yet, society has failed to elevate these contributions — through education, communication, and access — in order to build public appreciation for science,” the advisory council’s page on the Aspen website reads.

“Scientific expertise is being challenged, and consensus on topics from climate change to vaccine safety is no longer assumed to be valid.”

Other members of the advisory council include Susan Desmond-Hellmann, former CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Seema Kumar, Johnson & Johnson’s “Global Head, Office of Innovation, Public Health, and Scientific Engagement.”

Given the alphabetical listing, Kumar’s name appears right after that of noted bioethics expert Robert Klitzman.

Note: Klitzman specifically downplayed Johnson & Johnson’s use of fetal tissue research in developing its coronavirus vaccine during his CNN appearance. Perhaps after he is finished dismissing the deeply felt religious concerns of tens of millions of Americans with a wave of his hand, Dr. Klitzman can take up a new question:

What are the moral ramifications of working hand-in-glove with vaccine makers as you present yourself as an above-the-fray bioethicist calling for stringent vaccine mandates only because you are concerned with the greater public good?

The post Ivy League Bioethics Prof: Vaccine Religious Exemptions Are Bogus was first published by Liberty Nation, and is republished here with permission. Please support their efforts.

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