Four female soccer players at Western Michigan University (WMU) have sued the school claiming its covid vaccine mandate violates their Christian beliefs.
Emily Dahl, Hannah Redoute, Bailey Korhorn and Morgan Otteson filed a federal lawsuit on Monday in Grand Rapids after an announcement by the the university last month saying they had to be vaccinated or they’d be taken off the team.
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The students say that they believe the school has violated their ‘First Amendment rights, their right to Due Process and their Fourteenth Amendment liberty right to privacy, self-autonomy and personal identity, including the right to reject government mandated medical treatment’.
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UPDATE: On Tuesday, federal judge Paul Maloney temporarily blocked Western Michigan from enforcing the vaccine requirement against four female soccer players, ruling they are likely to prevail on claims it violates their constitutional religious rights. He has scheduled a hearing for Sept. 9.
The Mail Online reports: The suit from the Great Lakes Justice Center – which was released on the eve of the vaccine deadline – stated the athletes were allowed to request religious exemptions beginning August 24, which all four players took advantage of.
According to the lawsuit the athletes were separately denied throughout the following week. On August 26 they each ‘submitted a written request for explanation for the denials and for information on their right to appeal the denial’.
The university claimed the denials were not due to ‘insufficiency or insincerity’ of their religious beliefs and cited their written response which stated the school ‘has a compelling interest in taking action to avoid the significant risk posed to the intercollegiate athletic programs of a Covid-19 outbreak due to unvaccinated participants’.
To accomplish that, the school is ‘prohibiting unvaccinated members of the teams from engaging in practices and competition’.
The women are now collectively suing WMU, including President Edward Montgomery and Athletic Director Kathy Beauregard, for enforcing a vaccine mandate that ‘seeks to override (their) sincerely held religious beliefs and viewpoint and discriminates against them on the basis of religion
The court documents state that the student-athletes are ‘Christian women who adhere to the teachings of the Bible and are morally bound to follow the universal, consistent moral teaching of the Christian faith’.
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