by Joshua Mawhorter
Until recently, I was a California teacher working in two charter schools, one as a full-time classroom teacher of Government/Economics and sometimes U.S. History, and the other as a part-time independent study teacher who assists families with a program primarily based around homeschooling. I have taught for about five years and love teaching.
Last week, I was fired from one school and put on unpaid administrative leave at the other because of my refusal either to take and demonstrate proof of the COVID-19 vaccine or test weekly. I even filed a religious exemption stating the following that was rejected:
“As a committed follower of Christ, I religiously and philosophically cannot submit to either a government vaccine mandate or weekly testing.
These violate fundamental first principles including the Biblical purview of civil government relative to God (Romans 13:1-7; Acts 5:29), the Christian value of freedom of conscience since “whatever is not from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23), the fact that my body is owned and dedicated to the Lord (1 Corinthians 6:20) and not to the state, and my sacred duty to be faithful to oaths sworn (Deuteronomy 23:21; Matthew 5:33-37), including the oath to support the U.S. Constitution and the California State Constitution.
Footnote: Both a vaccine mandate and weekly testing are in violation of the provisions of the Constitution in the 1st, 4th, 9th, and 10th Amendments, especially the 9th Amendment which states, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” The Supreme Court has affirmed a constitutional right to privacy historically in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965). Since I am bound by solemn oath to support the Constitution(s), I can neither submit to nor support a vaccine mandate or weekly testing because to do so would violate conscience.”
Based on my refusal to back down on these principles, I was offered two options—the opportunity to resign or be terminated.
In order to force the issue, I chose to maintain my position, refusing to resign; so I was terminated. My situation was sort of the mirror opposite of the old joke-adage, “You can’t fire me, I quit!”
Instead, I basically said to my employers, “I can’t quit, you fire me.” Not everybody is in the position to force the issue, but I am. And I felt I had no choice.
It would be incongruous with what I consistently teach my students to back down and comply in a matter of rights, liberty, and principles. A quote, often misattributed to Thomas Jefferson, but nevertheless true, applies, “In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.”
I hope I would still have the character to stand by my principles even if my situation was more dire. However, there are some concrete actions and disciplines which protect me now.
First, an emergency fund that can cover 3-6 months of expenses. Second, I have no debt. Third, my expenses are minimal. Fourth, I possess plenty of social capital—that is, positive social relationships with family, friends, and my community.
I encourage every reader to follow these disciplines and practices as soon as possible because, when the time comes to stand for principles, these are just a few things that can help you do so with confidence. Personally, over the next year, I will take this as an opportunity to become completely self-employed and help other people to find financial freedom because, as we know, it is inextricably connected with personal and political freedom.
There is a great freedom in the ability to say no and walk away. Of all the pressures that make situations like this difficult, financial pressure is often one of the most challenging.
Financial stability, financial freedom, and long-term wealth are simple, but not easy. It has rightly been said that finances are 20 percent knowledge and 80 percent behavior. A monthly budget is essential in this regard. Contrary to popular belief, a budget is not just a constraint but rather taking full control of your money by knowing exactly how each dollar is being spent.
As the saying goes, a budget is simply telling your money where to go, versus wondering where it went. This gives people a sense of ownership, control, and empowerment. A budget involves the regular discipline of saying no to ourselves so that, if and when the time comes, we can say no when our workplaces attempt to implement policies and expect us to comply because of the financial pressure.
Additionally, in order to protect yourself, Dave Ramsey recommends building a $1,000 emergency fund and paying off all debt (minus real estate), then building up savings that cover 3-6 months of expenses.
A little bit of discipline today can lead to freedom tomorrow—and the ability to walk away (even from a job you love) when your conscience demands it.
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Joshua Mawhorter has been a junior high and high school teacher for the past five years in the subjects of Government/Economics and U.S. History.
Photo “Joshua Mawhorter” by Joshua Mawhorter.