Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Asbury Theological Seminary are defying the Biden Administration’s vaccine requirement, Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys announced today. The two Kentucky-based seminaries filed a petition with U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit to push back against a mandate requiring all private employers of 100 or more employees to require COVID-19 vaccinations for all employees or weekly testing and masking requirements.
Dr. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological, released a statement condemning the vaccine mandate, which he called a “intrusion of the government into matters of conscience and religious conviction” which will “force religious institutions to become coercive extensions of state power.”
“This institution exists for the purpose of educating ministers for churches,” the statement continued. “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.”
ADF Senior Counsel Ryan Bangert agreed in his own statement.
“The Biden administration’s decision to mandate vaccines through an OSHA 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,” 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.”
Last summer, the FDA officially approved the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines after authorizing them for emergency use earlier in the year. But the U.S. has struggled with vaccination rates, and currently leads the world in both COVID cases and COVID-related deaths. Currently, about 68 percent of the U.S. population has at least one dose of the vaccine, while 59 percent are fully vaccinated. Some Christian groups – particularly White Evangelicals — have pushed against vaccination, arguing that taking it would be a violation of their religious beliefs.
Last year, Southern had students sign an agreement agreeing to abide by social distancing guidelines on campus. Such measures were dropped this school year, though the school still “strongly” encourages students to get vaccinated. Asbury likewise “strongly” encourages full vaccination among students.