A conservative watchdog group is warning that the Biden administration appears to be test-running a database of religious exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccine among employees of an obscure federal agency whose employees are majority black, a demographic which tends to be more religious and vaccine-hesitant than other groups.
The Heritage Foundation’s news publication The Daily Signal sounded the alarm on plans within the Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia to create a new records system which will store names and “personal religious information” for employees who “religious accommodation requests for religious exception from the federally mandated vaccination requirement.”
President Joe Biden mandated that all federal employees and employees at companies with federal contracts be vaccinated; while his mandate for private businesses over 100 employees was struck down by the Supreme Court this week, mandates for federal workers, military service members, and healthcare workers at facilities that receive federal funding remains in place.
The agency, which the Signal explains works with officers in the District of Columbia to formulate release recommendations and to supervise and provide services for defendants awaiting trial, did not explain why they are collecting the data other than to “assist the Agency in the collecting, storing, dissemination, and disposal of employee religious exemption request information collected and maintained by the Agency.”
“In other words, the list will help the agency make a list,” the Signal sarcastically notes.
The agency did not provide any insight into what it will do with this data, nor did it account for why the Biden administration chose to test such a database on an agency which has a majority-black staff — 71% in this case.
The Signal noted that black Americans are more likely to be Christian (79%) and unvaccinated (13%).
“So much for the president’s commitment to “racial equity,” the outlet quips.
“What’s really going on with this announcement at this tiny agency?” they ask. “Likely, the Biden administration is using it to stealth test a policy it intends to roll out across the whole government.”
They explain that the agency is small and obscure, and the announcement for this list has received far less attention than it would if the Biden administration were rolling it out at, say, the Department of Labor, which could ultimately stall the implementation of the policy.
“Biden may not be winning points for transparency, but he’s doing his best to win first place in subjecting Americans with sincerely held religious beliefs to differential treatment,” the Signal notes.
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