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Bishop Thomas James Brown, the 10th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine, at St. Luke's Cathedral in Portland, Maine, last year. Photo: Derek Davis/Staff/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

The Episcopal Diocese of Maine is mandating COVID-19 vaccines for all clergy and diocesan staff.

Why it matters: Maine Bishop Thomas Brown's decision marks one of the first vaccine mandates for clergy in the U.S., per the Religious News Service.

Details: Brown issued the directive on Monday for some 240 clergy and 14 staff members to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by Sept. 30, unless they provide medical exemption documentation.

What they're saying: "We needed to join the public health leaders in giving a religious voice to what is a very pressing moral issue right now," Brown said Wednesday, per the New York Times.

  • He noted in a letter to clergy: "It's clear that vaccination of our population is the best path to the pandemic’s end, and as spiritual leaders, we have a moral obligation both to protect others and to set a Christlike example to the larger world."

Of note: Religious leaders of different faiths have advocated for followers to be vaccinated against the virus, with Pope Francis saying last week that to do so is "an act of love."

Go deeper

Oct 18, 2021 - Health

Over 30 states have limited officials' public health powers

Photo: Ringo Chiu/AFP via Getty Images

Republican lawmakers in more than 30 U.S. states have weakened health officials' authority to implement policies to protect the public against the coronavirus, the New York Times reports.

The big picture: Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, lawmakers in all 50 states have introduced bills to curb state and local officials' public health authority.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

North Korea claims latest missile test new weapon launched from submarine

North Korean state media claims the country's military fired this missile on Tuesday. Photo: Korean Central News Agency

North Korean state media announced that a detected ballistic missile launch off its east coast on Tuesday was a newly developed weapon test-fired from a submarine.

Why it matters: Pyongyang's latest in a series of recent missile launches into the sea happened hours after U.S. officials emphasized their commitment to restart negotiations on North Korea's nuclear weapons program, which have stalled since talks broke down during the Trump administration, AP notes.

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Manchin's massive means test

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is offering progressives a trade: He'll vote for their cherished social programs if they accept strict income caps for the recipients, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Manchin’s plan to use so-called means-testing for everything from paid family medical leave to elder and disabled care would drastically shrink the size and scope of the programs. It also would bring a key moderate vote to the progressive cause.