Two theological colleges in the United States are challenging the Biden Administration over a mandate which requires all private companies of more than 100 employees to receive a Covid-19 vaccine.
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary v. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) lawsuit alleges that the Biden administration lacks jurisdiction to dictate employment practices to religious institutions, lacks constitutional and statutory authority to issue the employer mandate, and that the mandate failed to meet the required procedural hurdles.
The colleges, in Kentucky have filed a petition with the US Court of Appeals. They're being represented by lawyers from Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) which is asking the court to halt enforcement of the mandate while litigation is in progress.
ADF Senior Counsel Ryan Bangert said :
"The Biden administration's decision to mandate vaccines through an emergency rule is unlawful and compels employers like our clients to intrude on their employees' personal health decisions and divert resources from their important mission of training future ministers.
"The government has no authority to unilaterally treat unvaccinated employees like workplace hazards or to compel employers to become vaccine commissars, and we are asking the 6th Circuit to put a stop to it immediately. We are honoured to represent these two theological seminaries at this critical time and help ensure they can continue to serve their students and communities without government interference."
The President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr Albert Mohler said :
"It is unacceptable for the government to force religious institutions to become coercive extensions of state power. We have no choice but to push back against this intrusion of the government into matters of conscience and religious conviction.
"This institution exists for the purpose of educating ministers for churches. This seminary must not be forced to stand in for the government in investigating the private health decisions of our faculty and employees in a matter involving legitimate religious concerns. We are glad to join with Asbury Theological Seminary in taking a stand against government coercion. The fact that the largest U.S. seminaries of the Baptist and Methodist traditions are here standing together against this mandate should send a clear and urgent message to Christians and to the nation."
The action comes as Republican governors also began filing lawsuits to stop the Biden administration's requirement that nearly 2 million U.S. employers get workers tested or vaccinated for COVID-19, saying it trampled civil liberties.
The mandate is due to be enforced on January 4th.
A senior Biden administration official said OSHA has the authority to act to protect workers from health and safety hazards.
President Biden said in September that patience was wearing thin with the 30% of Americans who remain unvaccinated and who made up the vast majority of those hospitalized during the most recent wave of COVID-19 infections.