Up to 57 policy amendments were drafted by 55 departments under the Biden administration, all seeking to track federal employees who are requesting for different types of exemptions to COVID vaccines, the Liberty Counsel Action (LCA) has found.
On Thursday, the government watchdog reported that some of the rules apply to COVID vaccine exemptions while others track all exemptions, such as when a federal worker or applicant seeks exemption from working on the Sabbath or Sunday. Some policies even track visitors to their buildings or events.
According to CBN News, there are variations between the 57 policies, but critics have raised concerns over the policy's invasive privacy violations by the federal government. Through these policies, the federal government will be able to record and permanently store religious and medical data on employees who seek exemptions.
The LCA reported that according to the Treasury Department's Office of Civil Rights and Diversity, their database will document all religious exemption requests and denials and will also track "information about a requestor's religious beliefs" and "informal dispute resolution" of each individual. It will also record "correspondence" and "records of oral conversations" of each person who seeks an exemption. The database is set to track all federal individuals from "pre-employment, during current or former employment or for attendees at a particular event."
Meanwhile the largest military branch, the U.S. Army will not only record "religious preference," but will also capture biometric data such as fingerprints and digital photographs, which are often already submitted once a person enlists.
The 55 federal agencies that currently have rule changes include the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, Homeland Security Department, Department of Labor, Department of the Treasury, Office of Civil Rights and Diversity, Department of the Interior, Federal Reserve System, Federal Trade Commission, United States Commission on Civil Rights, National Transportation Safety Board, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Transportation, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Peace Corps, and more.
Fox News reported that in January, Republican Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina introduced a bill called the "Religious Freedom Over Mandates Act," which would "prohibit federal funds from being used 'to establish, operate, maintain, or support any system of records' for individuals who seek a religious exemption from a federal COVID-19 vaccine requirement."
Rep. Norman's proposal came after the Pretrial Services Agency (PSA) for the District of Columbia, a federal entity, announced a system recording "personal religious information" of federal employees who sought religious exemptions to the COVID vaccine mandate. Rep. Normal argued, "The ability for individuals to openly practice their faith without fear of retribution is a precious right we must guard closely."
Republican Rep. Ashley Hinson of Iowa backed Rep. Norman's proposal, saying that any type of database that tracks people's religious beliefs "flies in the face of our First Amendment" and that "U.S. citizens are guaranteed the right to make their own medical decisions without fear of government reprisal."