Without religious freedom, the state is god

Published: Oct 7, 2019

Our story: at-a-glance

  • Religious rights are under attack in America. In 2019, legislators in Maine and New York abolished the state’s religious exemption to mandatory vaccinations. Lawmakers in six other states — Florida, Iowa, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Vermont—are attempting to do the same, while several others are trying to restrict religious and medical exemptions by making them more cumbersome for families to obtain.
  • At the same time, parental rights are slowly eroding. Nine states currently permit minors to be vaccinated without parental consent, and numerous states are trying to enact laws that allow “mature minors” to make their own healthcare decisions without notifying their parents.

  • Americans have lost sight of the fact that citizens are not supposed to be beholden to government; the government’s role is to serve and represent the people. Yet tens of thousands of Americans from coast to coast are currently fighting to safeguard their basic human rights and constitutional rights.

  • If they don’t assert these rights, our most powerful institutions will continue to insert themselves where they do not belong. They will continue to strip citizens of our ability to worship as we choose, make our own healthcare decisions, and raise our children as we see fit.

  • In essence, by giving the state too much power— and allowing it to continually erode our rights— we are permitting the government to play God, doctor, and parent.

  • That’s why Stand for Health Freedom (SHF) is calling upon all Americans to stand firmly for their rights. Sign our petition to stand for Religious Freedom.

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Sign the petition to affirm that we vote for state legislators who uphold religious freedom

When it comes to religion in the U.S., a huge and growing percentage of Americans don’t want anything to do with it. We are so turned off by the hypocrisy of our institutions — corporate, government, and religious — and the things that have been done in the name of profits, public health, and God or gods, that ever-larger numbers of us are running in the other direction. “Not religious” has become an American identity.

For a country whose very origins were forcefully secured and then proudly celebrated in the fierce exultation of religious freedom, this is a stunning turnaround. In both the Pledge of Allegiance and the full version of the national anthem, we have entrusted our nation to God and we have entrusted citizens to know best how to worship in a manner of our own choosing, without judgment or interference. How is it that so many of us are no longer religious? Are we becoming a nation of atheists?

As with most things, the truth is a bit more nuanced. It’s not that we don’t believe in anything: far from it. Americans have deeply held beliefs about existential and metaphysical truths that government or science can’t — and shouldn’t try to — explain or prove. But we struggle with the language around it. The words spiritual or conscientious beliefs don’t quite capture it.

What we do know, however, is that we sure don’t want the religious affiliation. Religion has become a fraught word. In 1972, 5% of the population was religiously unaffiliated. Today, it’s 23% and climbing. Our religious institutions have struggled mightily under the weight of their gospels, the all-too-human qualities of their leaders, and their shocking and self-serving attempts to hide their behavior. We don’t trust them. They’ve lost their moral authority.

Here’s the problem with our apathy: There are no qualified candidates to fill the void that our religious institutions have abdicated. As we have distanced ourselves from religion, is it a coincidence that we have also been losing our moral grounding? Who are we? What do we worship? Do we believe in America anymore? We’re standing helplessly by as our government and corporations destroy our health and our environment, devalue the importance of the family, undermine parents, weaken the doctor-patient relationship, and enrich ever-smaller numbers of the obscenely rich at the expense of a vanishing middle class. More than ever, Americans don’t read or watch the news. We struggle to talk about the things that matter in our communities. In any given election, as many as half of us don’t even vote.

How’s this working for us? Not so well.

Religious freedom is the right of Americans to choose our — pick the word you prefer: moral, ethical, higher — authority. Freedom of religion is nothing short of a desperately needed counterbalance to the overreaching and increasingly egregious exercise of government and corporate power. The U.S. Constitution affirms our essential sovereignty: We the People delegated enumerated powers. Government serves and represents us, not the other way around. If we don’t assert our right to choose our higher authority, our most powerful institutions will continue to insert themselves where they do not belong. They will invalidate our doctors. They will tell us what to believe. And if we don’t agree, they will do an end run around us and tell our children.

This is not hypothetical. It’s happening right now.

Legislators in five states (including two this year) have removed religious exemptions to mandatory vaccinations. Many more states are attempting to do the same. Do these lawmakers represent you? Sign the petition to affirm your right to act according to the dictates of your own moral authority. Medicine must be a voluntary, opt-in undertaking — that is, we must be free to choose our doctors and our treatments without interference. Mandatory medicine is an oxymoron. Without health freedom, we are not free.

The question “What is your present religion?” is not the same as “Do you have religious beliefs?” The state seems to care only about formal religions, which have marble buildings and a big book. That’s a grave misunderstanding of our constitutional freedom of religion. There are only two requirements for a religious belief to be protected by law: the belief is religious in nature, and sincerely held. Religious freedom does not derive its legitimacy from the identification with any organized religion. Religious freedom is the constitutionally protected right of each American to choose to worship a higher authority (i.e., act in accordance with convictions). It’s your personal religious beliefs, not the church’s (or mosque’s or temple’s) beliefs that are worthy of protection.

Religious in nature” means it is a matter in question that can’t be answered exclusively with the intellect or in a textbook. It’s bigger than that and requires inspiration from a higher power. Being vegan because you think it’s healthy is not a religious belief. Being vegan because it violates a deeply held belief that we should not prematurely kill animals for our consumption or pleasure is considered “religious in nature” and this belief can be protected whether or not you hold a religious affiliation or view yourself as religious or belong to an organized religion that does not share this belief.

An individual’s religious beliefs do not require approval from an organized religion. It’s a serious mischaracterization of our freedoms, as well as misleading to the public, when the press interviews religious leaders to speak on the validity of the exercise of religious freedom. Likewise, it’s a disservice to their congregations when religious leaders make public statements claiming to speak in their official capacity on behalf of the legitimacy of the beliefs of their adherents.

The first of all amendments to the Constitution could not be clearer in its intent and importance: a law to protect the legitimacy and integrity of all citizens to worship in a manner agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience, without interference or scrutiny. 

As government erodes religious freedom, government increasingly becomes our higher authority, dictating our most personal and private behavior. Mandatory medicine is part of this trend.

Stand with us to say, “We will not allow the foundation of religious freedom to disappear in America.” Sign the petition to tell your elected officials that you will vote for men and women who affirm the preservation of religious freedom.

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Jill Hines

Directory of Advocacy
A former banker turned homeschool mom, Jill Hines began researching alternatives to conventional medicine in 2010 and what she discovered changed the trajectory of her life. She corrected a worrisome health issue, and embraced a natural approach to wellness. Advocating for informed consent and parental rights became a full-time mission when she joined the board of the Georgia Coalition for Vaccine Choice and later became the co-director of Health Freedom Louisiana. Due to her advocacy efforts during the COVID crisis, Jill was one of 25 Louisianans selected by Central City News as “a hero of the constitutional crisis.” She was also presented the Impact Award for Outstanding Public Service from the government watchdog organization Citizens for a New Louisiana. Jill now represents hundreds of millions of Americans who experienced censorship due to the Biden administration's efforts to suppress disfavored speech as a plaintiff in the landmark lawsuit Missouri v. Biden. Jill holds a marketing degree from Louisiana Tech University and now passionately “sells” health freedom full-time. Serving as Stand for Health Freedom’s advocacy director provides an incredible opportunity to advance the growing movement to preserve the sacred right to refuse unwanted medical interventions for ourselves and our children without fear of retribution.
“We have lived through a terrifying societal, psychological, and medical experiment which afforded us a knowledge that our forefathers tried to impart and we can no longer ignore: Our freedom is tenuous. For our children’s sake, the time is now to take a stand for health freedom.”

Chrissy Scott

Executive Assistant and Social Media Manager

A labor and delivery nurse with a lifelong passion for maternal and fetal health, Chrissy Scott left her job of 19 years after learning the truth about the harms caused by the medical system. In 2009, she was mandated by her employer to receive the H1N1 vaccine during her first trimester of pregnancy with her second child. She was assured that the vaccine was “safe and effective” for pregnant women, but her son was born with a kidney defect that could have been fatal. She didn’t connect the dots to vaccine injury until several years later when the declining health of her oldest son drove her to seek answers outside of allopathic medicine.

This personal journey ignited in her a new passion for truth and transparency in health care. As SHF’s Executive Assistant, Chrissy facilitates communication and local advocacy initiatives alongside Leah Wilson for their home state of Indiana. She also manages and creates graphics for SHF’s social media accounts and the website’s swag shop.

Chrissy earned her nursing degree from Anderson University and served her entire career at her local hospital. While she’s no longer a floor nurse, her five very active boys frequently test her nursing skills! She homeschools her children and has been co-owner of a successful home décor sign business with her sister.

“Parents, being the experts on their own children, are best suited to make decisions for the well-being of their family. To do this properly, they must be given full and accurate information and be free from force or coercion.”

Ellen Chappelle


Ellen Chappelle serves as SHF’s resident wordsmith. A seasoned writer and editor, she’s enthusiastic about ensuring that our content is clear, concise, and inspiring.

Ellen is most energized by working on projects that transform lives. A truth seeker as well as a journalist, she’s disturbed by the lack of accuracy in today’s media and determined to help share fact rather than fiction. And having found greater healing with alternative approaches, she’s also passionate about preserving our freedom to make informed health choices.

Past projects include serving as regional editor of a dog magazine, color and trend specialist for a small cosmetics company, arts columnist, newspaper reporter, ghostwriter, and creator of website content for artists and small businesses.

With a degree in journalism and theatre, Ellen is also a performer. She enjoyed singing and dancing on a cruise ship and traveling with a national musical theatre tour, as well as recording industrial videos, television commercials, and radio voiceovers. She also creates handcrafted jewelry in wire, chain maille, and fused glass.

“Despite what some would have us believe, the fact remains that this nation was founded on biblical principles by people who wanted freedom to worship God and live their lives without government involvement. It’s never been more critical to fight for those rights.”


Executive Director and Co-founder

An attorney with a background in complex litigation and advocacy, Leah Wilson is passionate about children’s health and has researched and worked on child welfare issues for more than a decade.

The overmedication of children in foster care as a form of behavior management is what compelled Leah to become an advocate and foster parent. During her time as a court-appointed special advocate for abused and neglected children, Leah witnessed the rampant use of psychiatric drugs among foster kids. She also discovered that, in addition to many extensive requirements, the state had a policy that all foster children and foster families be fully vaccinated, without exception. Through her involvement in law, health and the foster care system, it became abundantly clear to Leah that the single most important issue affecting child welfare in the United States is the practice of one-size-fits-all medicine via medical mandates. This motivated Leah to expand her advocacy beyond foster care to all children nationwide and to start Stand for Health Freedom (SHF) in 2019.

A graduate of the Saint Louis University School of Law, Leah holds dual bachelor degrees in political science and Spanish from Indiana University. In addition to her advocacy work with SHF, Leah is the owner and former operations director of MaxLiving Indy, one of the largest natural health centers in the Midwest. She is also an educator on holistic health as well as a sought-after speaker on issues ranging from religious rights to greening your home.

“Parental rights and religious freedom are God-given natural rights that cannot arbitrarily be taken away by government authorities. Parents are the single most important factor in a child’s success; I stand in full support of this sacred relationship.”

Sayer JI

Director and Co-founder

Sayer Ji is a widely recognized researcher, author, lecturer, activist, and educator on natural health modalities. Among his many roles, he is an advisor to Stand for Health Freedom, a reviewer and editor of the International Journal of Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine, an advisory board member of the National Health Federation, a steering committee member of the Global GMO Free Coalition, and the co-founder and CEO of Systome Biomed Inc., a revolutionary scientific validation framework.

Most notably, Sayer is the founder of Greenmedinfo.com, the world’s most widely referenced, evidence-based natural health resource of its kind. He founded the platform in 2008 to provide an open access, evidence-based resource supporting natural and integrative modalities. Today, Greenmedinfo.com has more than a million visits per month, serving as a trusted resource on myriad health and wellness topics to physicians, healthcare practitioners, clinicians, researchers and consumers worldwide.

Sayer attended Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, where he studied under the notable American philosopher Dr. Bruce W. Wilshire. He received a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy in 1995, with a focus on the philosophy of science. His new book, Regenerate: Unlocking Your Body’s Radical Resilience through the New Biology, was released in March 2020 and is an Amazon bestseller.

“I truly believe that education will be our greatest shield against accelerating the erosion of civil liberties, including the right to bodily sovereignty, as well as the greatest catalyst for positive change on this planet moving forward.”

Bailey Kuykendoll

Associate Director

Designer and visual marketer Bailey Kuykendoll began advocating for health and religious freedom and parental rights in 2014 after learning she was pregnant. A self-described skeptic, she’s not afraid to ask questions and do copious amounts of research to reach her own conclusions.

She’s also not afraid of hard work. As SHF’s Associate Director, Bailey truly keeps the organizational boat afloat. Working closely with our State Directors in each state, she ensures that SHF has calls-to-action for health-freedom bills and petitions on our website and across social media, spreading the word to encourage people to contact their legislators. She builds campaigns, graphics, website pages, and relationships.

Bailey earned a design degree from Harrington Institute of Design in 2008. She then served as a production assistant on several shows for HGTV, followed by working behind the scenes on the X Factor, small indie films, music videos, and documentaries. Bailey joined Health Freedom Florida after moving to the East Coast, becoming co-president of the grassroots organization in 2019. While at Health Freedom Florida, she successfully filed a state bill designed to stop discrimination based on your health status. She joined SHF in the fall of 2020.

“God placed a calling on my heart back in 2008 to be a part of something bigger for Him. Twelve years later, the opportunity came knocking to help others lean into their natural-born rights and take a stand for themselves and their families. I knew this is where I was called to be, and I have never looked back.”

Valerie Borek


Valerie Borek is a passionate advocate for health rights and family privacy. A mother of two with degrees in law and biochemistry, she is perfectly positioned to lead SHF advocates through complex health-rights policy. Her work is guided by a love for American values, uncovering truth, and a passion for empowering others. Valerie has served as SHF’s policy analyst since 2021.

Valerie’s understanding of the value of freedom to make one’s own health care choices is not just academic. Health freedom has kept her boys alive and thriving. Her choice to have home births jump-started her advocacy for health privacy. Her eldest son survived a rare and deadly cancer because her family was able to navigate medical care while holding onto values that were sometimes at odds with recommendations.

Before joining SHF, Valerie specialized in health and parenting rights at her boutique law firm, especially surrounding birth and vaccine rights. She advocated for informed consent in health care and transparent food labeling in her state. She helped found the Birth Rights Bar Association and was honored to present their argument to the Delaware Supreme Court that midwifery is not the practice of medicine, in support of a trailblazing midwife.

“Health is the foundation of how we show up in this world to love, serve, and create. Americans are blessed to live in a country that gets stronger the more we protect fundamental rights, like informed consent and privacy, so individuals and families can thrive.”

Mary Katherine LaCroix


Mary Katherine LaCroix became involved with SHF as a volunteer in 2019 when the religious exemption for childhood vaccines was at risk in her home state of New Jersey. She believes strongly that parents have the responsibility for their children’s health, education, and faith formation and that only they have the right to make medical decisions and manage their care.

She has worked in fundraising for more than 25 years at various educational, cultural, human services, and political organizations. A graduate of the University of Scranton, she holds a degree in History and English Literature.

Mary Katherine is thrilled to have this opportunity to work with and help grow SHF, believing that together we can achieve even greater impact in protecting our rights and caring for our loved ones. She enjoys spending time with her husband, two children and large extended family, as well as volunteering to support the special needs community.

“Parents are taught that they must trust the experts. That’s what we did, until we learned that the experts can be wrong and don’t always know what is best for your child. Parents should instead feel empowered by their natural, God-given ability to advocate and care for their children. SHF is here to give them the tools to do just that.”

Sheila Ealey

Political Analyst

Dr. Sheila Lewis Ealey is the founder and former director of the Creative Learning Center of Louisiana, a therapeutic day school for children who are on the autism spectrum or struggling with other nonverbal intellectual disabilities. The wife of a former U.S. Coast Guard Officer, she is also the mother of four children. Her son was diagnosed with severe autism spectrum disorder at 18 months. He is now a young man and considered moderate and emerging.

Sheila and her twins were featured in the documentary “Vaxxed.” She has traveled extensively, advocating for medical freedom. She continues to educate disenfranchised parents about their fundamental rights to religious and philosophical exemptions, their ability to live sustainably on a limited budget, and the importance of nutrition and biomedical interventions for optimum health with autism. She also writes individual homeschool curriculums for parents of children with autism or intellectual disorders. Sheila is a trustee for the Autism Trust, USA, and on the board of directors of Children’s Health Defense.

Over the past 20 years, she has educated herself to use natural healing modalities for the body and brain. Her formal education includes degrees in communication, special education curriculum, and a doctorate in Educational Leadership in Special Education. Sheila serves as an assistant content advisor and political analyst for SHF.

“It is not the Constitution’s job to protect our liberties, as it is not a philosophical document but a legal one. Its purpose is to limit the powers and authority of our federal government in hopes of preventing an intrusion upon our unalienable rights. We are obliged to maintain our government within its limits.”

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