In good governance, beliefs can matter more than facts

The lack of any Covid-19 vaccine exemptions granted on religious grounds for US troops is troubling. This suggests we have reached a point in liberal democracy where faith is so derided that it could be given no consideration at all by the authorities.

Such a course by any government threatens to alienate much of the population. It may show a lack of understanding of a political association - of what a country even is - distorting it into a management structure run by technocrats and rationalists whose purpose is to herd the irrational multitude below.

Authorities unrepresentative

To call oneself democratic, yet decry the wishes of the people as irrational and show contempt for them, is a contradiction. Yes, the people are unruly and must be checked by structures of order that ensure safety, yet their sensibilities must not be insulted and trashed by those in power.

Outright contempt is now apparent on the part of US authorities towards much of the population for its right-wing religiosity and devotion to traditional sources of wisdom. In the handling of the pandemic, Federal authorities seem to believe any risk to their own legitimacy with a vast number of people is in any event less severe than the risk posed from the illness.

The limits of the government's ability to manage safety could soon be reached as the effort to pressure the public into the right choice encounters a brick wall. The divided country could edge close to a crisis-ridden social 'hell on earth', made worse by vaccine mandates, that could ravage it for decades after the disease. The will be no vaccine for riots and arson between divided sectors of the population.

America idolises the overthrow of tyrants, curtailing the government's ability to get the public to understand strict rules or be obedient.

One form of expertise doesn't negate others

Fact-based though vaccines are, medical science isn't the only discipline from which good advice can be gained for the ruler. Owing to the crisis posed to health services by the pandemic, it seems as though medical advice may be overruling all other advice, including advice about threats equally perilous.

People's beliefs are facts. They are facts about how people will react to things. They are facts about people's sensibilities. They are facts that must be treated with extreme caution and taken into account when responsibly governing human affairs.

Someone who ignores others' beliefs cannot possibly represent them as required, or have any valid mandate to govern them.

Approaching illegality?

Religious values are values that cannot be ignored. Religious leaders' pleas must be taken into account. Religious exemptions must be granted, or the authorities risk perilously approaching a form of persecution.

To ignore or overrule someone's religious commitments or requirements is a violation of the freedom of conscience. For authorities to display contempt for or disregard certain religious requirements while respecting others is discrimination.