How to Write a Religious Exemption Letter [2022] | Guide & Sample Forms

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Knowing how to write a concise and compelling religious exemption letter may be handy once in a while. As individuals who are regularly faced with our duties in school or society, knowing how to defend our rights through writing is an essential skill to have.

In this essay, I would like to discuss how to write a compelling religious exemption letter for your various needs in life. Accordingly, since one of the recent dilemmas faced by various students and employees is related to the COVID-19 Pandemic, I would provide a short sample religious exemption letter for the COVID vaccine. 

Whether you are faced with a school requirement, a societal duty, or any other personal reason, knowing these tips may come in handy. 

I. Religious Exemption Forms

Even before writing a religious exemption letter, you should consider whether or not a specific religious exemption form is required? 

There are times when religious exemption forms already have a Pro-forma template where you merely fill in the information needed. For example, some companies have a Pro-forma “Religious Exemption Form for Employees” where all they need to do is fill in the blank spaces provided. 

However, most of the time, the exemption forms are merely suppletory, and a separate letter is needed explaining the reasons and evidence that you have to grant your exemption request. 

If your case falls on the second instance, the following section will give tips and advice on writing a religious exemption letter. 

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II. Religious Exemption Letters

1. What is a Religious Exemption Letter?

A religious exemption letter is a written explanation or petition where the writer asks that he be exempted or released from the duty to perform a specific act required of him by an authority. While the authority, admissibility, or effectiveness of this letter to exempt, you may be limited by legitimate interests (i.e., public safety), a justifiable and compelling reason based on your religious beliefs could help you be spared from the imposed requirement. 

2. How to Write a Religious Exemption Letter

Similar to any other kind of letter, a Religious Exemption Letter should contain the following essential elements; (1) Details and salutation, (2) Introduction, (3) Body, and (4) a Call-to-Action. These three requirements should be able to put forward your arguments and reasons most concisely and effectively possible. Here is a discussion of these elements. 

A. Details and Salutations

Generally, the details and the salutation are the basic details of your religious exemption letter. This is similar to the details you put before and after the body of the letter, which usually contains the sender’s and receiver’s addresses, contact details, and other relevant information. 

B. Introduction – Request Overview

This is where you should provide an overview of what you want to say and the flow of the contents of your letter. While you should keep this part short, make sure that you address the following:

Essential parts of a REL’s Introduction:

1. Short and relevant information about yourself.

2. What do you want to discuss?

3. What do you want to achieve by writing this letter? 


By addressing these three, you would already help your reader know about the trajectory of your letter, which would also help make it more convincing, logical, and professional. 

Check the example of a religious exemption letter as shown in Figure 1 (Sample Religious Exemption Letter for COVID Vaccine). 

C. Body – Religious Exemption Rationale

The body of your religious exemption letter is similar to any other kind of professional letter that you have written. Specifically, it should be short, logical, and well-supported to show that you are honest with your intent and that you have justifiable reasons for your request for exemption. 

For example, if your religious beliefs are in line with religions that prohibit (or do not encourage vaccinations) like “churches that rely on faith healing including small Christian churches” (Church of the First Born, End-Time Ministries, Faith Assembly, Faith Tabernacle, and First Century Gospel Church), then providing a short discussion about your beliefs should help evidence your claim. This is in line with your Constitution rights, which is why religious beliefs are given significant weight when mandating individuals to do some positive act like vaccinations. 

Nonetheless, one effective technique to make your letter compelling is by following this line of discussion, namely:

Persuasive Strategy for Religious Exemption Letters
  1. Narrating your devotion;
  2. Give evidence about your belief;
  3. Reintegrating your desire to follow your beliefs;
  4. Stressing your rights under the law.


Look at the example paragraph of a religious exemption letter below:

I was born and raised as a devout member of the First Century Gospel Church. As our scriptures would show, we believe in the strength of faith healing and have always advocated against untested and unproven medications that could endanger our lives. As such, I hope I can stay true to my beliefs as I did for the past [your age] years. Thank you for your kind consideration of our Constitutionally protected of our right to express and practice her own religion [or no religion at all].


Note how concise, logical, and well-supported the above argument is. It gives a rhetorical implication of how a genuinely devout practitioner like you hopes to have his right of religion protected by granting your religious exemption request. 

Thus, if you are asking about “how to write a religious exemption letter,” then this line of argumentation is a good rule of thumb to persuade your reader without being aggressive or disrespectful. 

D. Call-to-Action

The call-to-action (CTA) is one of the least focused yet most important parts of your religious exemption letter. The primary purpose of a call-to-action is to persuade your reader to do a positive act or to cease (or stop) doing such action based on your previous arguments. The culmination of your reasons and pieces of evidence shows that you are strongly hoping that you are exempted from being forced to act against your beliefs. 

Accordingly, the CTA for a religious exemption letter would differ based on what is required of you. For example, if you are required to pass a signed and approved religious exemption form, then your CTA should request that your form be signed by your superior. Nonetheless, despite the differences in the contents of your CTA, the end goal is to have your exemption request granted. Take, for example, the use of a compelling CTA below:

In line with this, I am hoping to have a favorable response for my request. As an institution that espouse academic freedom, I do believe that granting my request would be in line with the principles that serves as the foundation of my alma mater.  Nevertheless, thank you for your kind consideration and you can contact me at my email for any concerns and clarification.

The example above shows one effective way of constructing your CTA for a religious exemption letter. Upon careful analysis of its contents, it is clear that the reason for its effectiveness does not only rely on its ‘call to perform a positive act’ but also on how it is constructed, which includes (1) an ‘advanced’ showing of gratitude and (2) a connection to the overarching principles of the institution.

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III. Sample Religious Exemption Letter

Now that we have laid out some of the specific and indispensable parts of a religious exemption letter, the next step is writing the letter itself.

While your organization could have different forms, formats, or requirements for writing one, here is an example that you can use if you want a sample religious exemption letter for COVID Vaccine (source: Health Action Alliance).

Note that this is a sample format and if you want your exemption letter to be more effective and persuasive, it would be best to incorporate the strategies as outlined above.

Sample Religious Exemption Letter for COVID Vaccine


Your Contact Information:



Contact Information (person/company writing for):



Dear Mr./Ms. [Recipient’s Name],


[Company Name] is committed to providing equal employment opportunities without regard to any protected status, and a work environment that is free of unlawful harassment, discrimination, and retaliation. As such, [Company Name] complies with all laws protecting employees’ religious beliefs and practices.

[Company Name] will provide reasonable accommodations for employees’ sincerely held religious beliefs, observances, and practices that conflict with getting vaccinated for COVID-19, as long as the requested accommodation does not create an undue hardship for [Company Name] or pose a direct threat to you or others in the workplace.

To request an accommodation related to [Company Name]’s COVID-19 Vaccination Policy, please complete this form and return it to Human Resources. This information will be used by Human Resources or other appropriate personnel to engage in an interactive process to determine the precise limitations of your ability to comply with [Company Name]’s COVID-19 Vaccination Policy and explore potential reasonable accommodations that could overcome those limitations. Refusing to provide the information requested in this form may impact [Company Name]’s ability to adequately understand your request or effectively engage in the interactive process to identify possible accommodations.

[Company Name] makes determinations about requested accommodations and exemptions on a case-by-case basis, considering various factors and based on an individualized assessment in each situation. [Company Name] strives to make these determinations expeditiously and in a fair and nondiscriminatory manner and will inform you after we make a determination. If you have any questions about an accommodation or exemption request you made, please contact [Name] in the Human Resources Department.

Part 1 – To be completed by employee sending religious exemption letter

  • Do you regard yourself as having a sincerely held religious belief, observance, or practice that you believe should exempt you from [Company Name]’s COVID-19 Vaccination Policy?
  • YES / NO
  • Company Name]’s COVID-19 Vaccination Policy.  Please briefly explain how your sincerely held religious belief, observance, or practice conflicts with [Company Name]’s COVID-19 Vaccination Policy.
  • Please briefly explain how long you have maintained your sincerely held religious belief, observance, or practice that conflicts with [Company Name]’s COVID-19 Vaccination Policy and how it governs or impacts other aspects of your life.
  • Please describe the specific reasonable accommodation you are requesting from [Company Name].
  • In some cases, [Company Name] will need to obtain additional information and/or documentation about your sincerely held religious belief, observance, or practice. We may need to discuss the nature of your sincerely held religious belief, observance, or practice, and accommodation with your religion’s spiritual leader (if applicable) or religious scholars to address your request for an exception. If requested, can you provide documentation to support your belief and the need for accommodation?
  • YES / NO If no, please explain why:


I verify that the information I am submitting in support of my request for an accommodation is complete and accurate to the best of my knowledge, and I understand that any intentional misrepresentation contained in this request may result in discipline, up to and including termination. [While my request is pending, I understand that I must comply with [Company Name]’s workplace safety standards (e.g. face coverings, regular COVID-19 testing) for unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated individuals as a condition of my employment.] I also understand that my request for an accommodation may not be granted if it is not reasonable, if it poses a direct threat to the health and/or safety of others in the workplace and/or to me, or if it creates an undue hardship on [Company Name].



Part 2 – To be completed by Human Resources Representative

    YES / NO
  • DATE:
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