The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has joined several other religious and secular businesses in suing the Biden administration over its mandate requiring most private sector businesses to force their employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine or risk facing insurmountable fines or firing employees.
The Kentucky-based SBTS and Asbury Theological Seminary filed a petition Friday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit to challenge the private employer vaccine mandate, said the legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, which is presenting the seminaries, in a statement.
The mandate requires employers with more than 100 employees to mandate the coronavirus vaccine for their employees or subject them to regular coronavirus testing and required mask wearing.
The lawsuit alleges that the federal government cannot coerce individuals nationwide to undergo medical treatment, and it lacks authority to conscript employers to compel that result.
Earlier this week, the Biden administration’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Labor, unveiled the temporary emergency standard.
“It is unacceptable for the government to force religious institutions to become coercive extensions of state power,” Dr. Albert Mohler, the SBTS president, said. “We have no choice but to push back against this intrusion of the government into matters of conscience and religious conviction.”
Mohler added: “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.”
He emphasized that “the largest U.S. seminaries of the Baptist and Methodist traditions” standing together against the mandate “should send a clear and urgent message to Christians and to the nation.”
ADF Senior Counsel Ryan Bangert called the decision to mandate vaccines through an OSHA emergency rule “unlawful.”
It “compels employers like our clients to intrude on their employees’ personal health decisions and divert resources from their important mission of training future ministers,” he said. “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.”
Also on Friday, First Liberty Institute, on behalf of Daystar Television Network, the American Family Association and Answers in Genesis, petitioned the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Fifth and Sixth Circuits, asking the judges to “review and set aside” the mandate.
First Liberty contends that the prominent national religious ministries it’s representing are “adversely affected” by the vaccine mandate because they “will face workplace shortages if unvaccinated employees quit rather than receive a COVID-19 vaccination.”
The legal challenges also note that petitioners could face “civil penalties up to $70,000” for each willful violation of the vaccine mandate.
On Thursday, ADF filed a lawsuit against the vaccine mandate on behalf of The Daily Wire, a conservative news outlet based in Nashville, Tennessee.
The Daily Wire’s co-founder and Co-CEO Jeremy Boreing said: “The Daily Wire will not comply with President Biden’s tyrannical vaccine mandate, and we’ve sued the Biden administration to put a stop to their gross overreach. ... Joe Biden, the federal government, social media and the establishment media have all conspired to rob Americans of their freedom in the name of public health. They’ve broken faith with the American people through conflicting messaging, false information, and by suppressing data and perspectives with which they disagree. And forcing us to take a vaccine at the risk of financial ruin isn't going to rebuild that lost trust.”
Boreing further stressed that he is pro-vaccine but is against the mandate: "I've said before that I'm vaccinated. If I were a dictator I'd probably force most American adults to be vaccinated. But I'm not a dictator, and neither is Joe Biden. COVID is not the greatest threat that we face as a nation, the coordination between big government, big media and big tech to erode our liberties is."