At least 19 federal government agencies have implemented or are considering putting in place a system to track religious exemption requests for mandated vaccines, according to a review of Federal Register notices by The Epoch Times
The agencies include the departments of Justice, Health and Human Services, Transportation, and Treasury.
The Heritage Foundation, a conservative group, was the first to report on the development and warns it may be a test pilot scheme to monitor all federal workers.
The system tracks religious exemption requests from employees of federal agencies along with any contractors, consultants, interns, and volunteers associated with them.
Based on its review of the new tracking system—and the choice of the little-known Pretrial Services Agency to implement the database—The Heritage Foundation called it a “test run” for a nationwide database of all religious exemption requests made by federal workers.
The Pretrial Services Agency gathers information and makes recommendations about newly-arrested defendants in the federal criminal system.
“It is likely the Biden administration is using these agencies to stealth test a policy it intends to roll out across the whole government,” lawyers for the foundation wrote in an analysis of the tracking system.
Notices of the new tracking system were only made public in the Federal Register, the daily journal of the federal government.
News of the system drew criticism from conservative officials.
“The Biden Administration must immediately dismantle the Orwellian Database,” wrote Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt in a public comment he posted on regulations.gov.
“There is no freedom under our Constitution more sacred than the freedom of religious expression and practice,” wrote Schmitt. He called the move “alarming” and said it had “a chilling effect on a citizen’s exercise of religion.”
The attorney general directed his comments specifically to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.
“Rather than give the public ample time to weigh in on the advisability or legality of collecting such personal information, the Department of Transportation’s database, in particular, became effective on the day it was published,” he said.
The 19 agencies announcing the implementation of the tracking system did not return phone calls by The Epoch Times.
None of the notices published in the Federal Register announcing the tracking systems say why the religious exemptions were being tracked or what the Biden administration plans to do with the information collected.
Descriptions of the religious exemption tracking system do not specifically name the COVID-19 vaccination as one of the mandates.
However, the notices do say that the new system is in response to guidelines issued by the newly created Safer Federal Workforce Task Force under Biden’s executive order that established the nationwide COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
“This system of records maintains personal religious information collected in response to religious accommodation requests for religious exception from the federally mandated vaccination requirement in the context of a public health emergency or similar health and safety incident, such as a pandemic, epidemic, natural disaster or national or regional,” one of the notices stated.
The tracking system will include names and personal religious information, the notices indicate.
“As the nation’s largest employer, with over four million civilian and military employees, the federal government has received tens of thousands of religious exemption requests,” the Heritage Foundation wrote in its updated report.
“It now appears that an increasing number of federal agencies are keeping and preserving those individuals’ names, religious information, personally-identifying information, and other data stored in lists across multiple government agencies.”
Last week the Supreme Court struck down President Joe Biden’s executive order that mandated a COVID-19 vaccine for all federal employees and contractors as well as workers for private businesses with over 100 employees.
However, it did not overturn the mandate for health care workers or military members.
Those employees can only avoid the COVID-19 vaccine by applying for a religious exemption.
From The Epoch Times