By Rita Palma
This can’t happen in America. But it can in New York.
You’ll see a ‘sincerity test’-- conducted by a school attorney when my husband and I filed a religious waiver to refuse vaccines for our boys. David Cohen, attorney for our school, wanted to make supersure that we really, really believed in God. Of course, those people who lie about their belief in God are much more prone to diphtheria, hepatitis, measles, etc.—those disease-ridden atheists must be kept out of the public schools.
(There are three You Tube videos of the test.)
We failed our ‘sincerity test’- twice.
The first time, Mr. Cohen asked us about the vitamins I give my kids, “Why fish oil, Mrs. Palma?” He asked about the foods I serve and the medicines I use. He accused me of forging a vaccine record. The Board of Education President, Jim March, said that since I had an ‘invasive’ Titers test done on my son, how could I truly object to vaccines?
We appealed to the Commissioner of Education who upheld the denial- five days before school started. We appealed; NYS Supreme Court dismissed our case as moot. But only after I explained to the judge that he could not waive immunization requirements. He thought he could personally decide what was needed for school admission. “If the disease is not so contagious then you don’t have to get the shot, right?” he says. So much for the court system.
The second ‘truth-test’and it’s all about God, me and Mr. Dave. “Do you have conversations with God? Does He tell you not immunize? If God is on your side, can He be on the side of those who immunize? If God created man and man created vaccinations, how can accepting vaccines represent a mistrust in God? Have your religious beliefs changed in two years?” The video speaks for itself. Ninety minutes of harassment, outrageous questions and praying my husband (and me) would stay in his seat.
Mr. Cohen said it is part of the ‘sincerity’ to reconcile my Faith. But does religion reconcile? Does it make sense? Whatever your answer is, we believe anyway-- it’s called Faith. Mr. Cohen didn’t get it so I got an “F” for sincerity. He believes that in order for me to believe something, he has to believe I believe it.
The law provides an exemption that fits squarely with our beliefs. All we wanted to do was follow the law and we were treated worse than criminals. The school berated, harassed, intimidated, humiliated and outspent us.
Should it be the decision of a school board to decide if we believe in God and what to put into our children’s bodies? What, after all, do we truly own in life? Our kids, our souls, our beliefs, our convictions.
The policy of my school is to cross examine and deny. A dozen other couples have been tortured by the ‘Team Vaccine’ of Bayport- Blue Point School District. One parent was told to come down for a ‘few minutes’. Three hours later, she left in tears—asked the same questions, over and over and over. Another parent has to ‘re-up’ the waiver every year—they have to tell the wise and powerful Board that yes, my beliefs are still the same as last year.
Another couple took them to court and won. Others avoid the ugliness and attend Catholic School. Be sure to watch Part 3, minutes 3-4 of the video as Mr. Cohen discusses these people and their options. Cohen admits that those with sincere religious beliefs get denied anyway.
Is this America? Or, ‘Alice in Wonderland’- where up is down, black is white and the Mad Hatter is judging the sincerity of my soul? Can this go on in a country founded on religious freedom? Does America mean something, or was it just a really neat idea? Were our founding fathers drinking too much toddy and this whole thing really can’t work after all? How can they get away with this?
Schools are their own government in New York. They can, if they choose, thumb their noses at the guidelines that the NYS Education Department sets. They can ignore ‘mandates’, Open Meetings Laws and Freedom of Information Laws. They make their own rules and break others. Unless a parent has a bottomless pit of money to litigate, the school gets to play Lord of the Fiefdom; we are the serfs. While most are run by good people, the arrogance of some reflects badly for the many.
I handed in a medical waiver; bona fide and acceptable by any other school. Rejected by the ‘Team Vaccine.’ Again, they can legally do it.
What if I had a vaccine-injured child that I did not want to vaccinate? What if this child needed public school services? What if Mr. Dave and the ‘Team Vaccine’ denied these waivers, I crumbled and the child died as a result of additional vaccine injury? Who do I shoot first? Myself?
I am determined to reclaim a right that no parent should ever lose and it has been a test of faith. Faith that our Legislators will improve our laws so parents are not subjected to a modern-day witch hunt. Faith that more parents will wake up to the fact that vaccines cause more tragedy than they are led to believe. Faith that the medical establishment will own up to the half and hidden truths they’ve peddled for decades at the expense of families. Faith that parents will be able to ‘opt in’ and never be harassed by a buffoon attorney or an arrogant, ignorant Board of Education. Faith that I will earn the good fortune that God gave me and pass laws that will help other parents live their beliefs.
In the years since I turned my back on vaccines, I’ve met hundreds of strong, smart parents that will make these things happen.
Did I immunize? This is America, and in spite of the government, there are still choices.
Rita M. Palma