The Federalist describes it as “creepy.” Indeed, any effort by the United States government to gather information from citizens on their religious views needs to be scrutinized.
The Daily Signal is reporting that a nearly invisible federal agency known as the Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia is quietly gathering information on federal workers who requested a religious exemption from the Biden administration vaccine mandate.
The Federal Register, where news of the religious exemption database first appeared, says this is the best way to keep track of “personal religious information” being collected “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 emergency and/or any other lawful collection of employee information or data that is necessary to ensure a safe and healthy environment for individuals.”
Just because it may be “lawful” — a dubious assertion untested in court — doesn’t make it right.
The agency claims that the database will legally allow for the “collection, storing, dissemination, and disposal of employee religious exemption request information” for an indefinite period of time.
“The primary purpose of the secured electronic file repository is to collect, maintain, use, and–to the extent appropriate and necessary–disseminate employee religious exception request information collected by the Agency in the context of the federally mandated COVID-19 vaccination requirement,” the register states.
They still haven’t given a good reason why. Will the database make us safer? Or will it just make it easier for the federal government to track vaccine dissenters? It should be noted that this information will never be deleted; it’s there, waiting for someone to use for good or ill.
It’s only speculation, but trying out this database may be a trial balloon that could potentially be rolled out nationwide.
Almost nobody has ever heard of the Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia, and very few people pay close attention to it or are covered by its policies. Indeed, at of the time of publication of this article, the announcement has been viewed only 16 times.
However, had Biden announced, for example, that the Department of Labor intended to adopt this policy, it would be big news. The Federal Register where announcements like this are made would be flooded with comments that the department would have to address.
That would, of course, delay the policy’s rollout. With the Pretrial Services Agency, Biden likely expected that the policy would land quickly and without a splash. As it is, the notice of a new announcement provides less than 30 days for public comment.
Another worrying aspect of this database is the assault on religious liberty taking place elsewhere in the government. The Department of Defense has refused to grant a religious exemption from the vaccine mandate to service members, leading to the belief that a policy to single out and discriminate against people for their religious beliefs is already in place.
No doubt the Biden administration will back off now that the policy has been exposed, claiming what’s as plain as the nose on their face isn’t what we think it is. The left will also downplay the significance of the issue.
But we can expect the Biden administration to try again at a later date. “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” It’s never been truer than it is today.