CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – More people are claiming religious exemptions as a reason for not getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

“It is your choice if you want to be vaccinated or not,” said Penny Maxwell in an Instagram video.

Maxwell is a Pastor at Freedom House Church in Charlotte who hasn’t been shy about how she feels about masks or the vaccine.

“Unmask your kids and say ‘no’ to mandatory vaccines,” she said on her Instagram page.

She covers all the topics, “I love the people who say ‘my body, my choice when it comes to abortion which, actually, it’s not your body. It’s another human being with a separate DNA.”

Now, she and her church are advertising on social media they’ll write a religious exemption for members in regard to a mandatory vaccine.

“People have to also be mindful of everything that’s going on and still believe in what they have to believe in, so yeah it does put churches in a tough spot,” said Isaiah Fitzgerald.

The numbers in Mecklenburg County in the last ten years indicate a slight rise in people claiming religious exemptions for child immunizations, however, some questions if the numbers paint a clear picture.

“Religious exemptions might be going up, but their families might be getting more religious,” said Eryn Glover.

“Religious waivers for masking will not be approved at this point,” said Stephen Mauney, Mooresville Graded School District Superintendent.

Schools districts like Mooresville Graded are no longer allowing religious exemptions as an excuse for not wearing a mask.

With more employers like Atrium and Novant Health mandating vaccines for employees, more people are calling law firms asking about their rights.

“I mean the phones have been ringing off the hook,” said employment attorney at Van Kampen Law, Michael Morrison.

“Because of your association or identification with that religion, how does that relate to you now being exempt from a vaccine? How ingrained is the exemption from that vaccine in the religion that you claim,” he said

Freedom House Church sent FOX 46 a statement.

It is despicable for a business or government agency to force someone to take a vaccine that is unproven, dangerous, and not fully tested. The motivation is clearly self-serving and demonstrates a desperate attempt by incompetent officials to dodge culpability for mishandling this pandemic. The media is complicit in driving a false narrative of fear and control, and we reject and condemn it. The public pressure on organizations and individuals to conform has positioned our nation to blindly follow ever-changing demands that are non-sensical and harmful. Shame on anyone who echoes the call for this socialistic groupthink and compliance. It is embarrassing to our great legacy of freedom.