LOUISVILLE (BP) – The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary filed a petition in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit Friday against the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to block Pres. Biden’s enforcement of a mandate requiring employees of private employers be vaccinated against COVID-19.
“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,” said Albert Mohler, president of Southern Seminary.
Biden issued the mandate on Sept. 9. In an address to the nation, Biden said he was frustrated with those who had not been vaccinated. “We’ve been patient. But our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us,” he said.
The mandate requires employers with more than 100 employees to require they be vaccinated.
“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,” Mohler said.
According to Mohler, Southern Seminary joins Asbury Theological Seminary in pushing back on the president’s mandate. “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.”
Alliance Defending Freedom is working with the seminary in the petition.
“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,” said ADF Senior Counsel Ryan Bangert.
Bangert said the Biden Administration should not “unilaterally treat unvaccinated employees like workplace hazards or to compel employers to become vaccine commissars.”
Brent Leatherwood, interim president of the the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, believes guidance from federal and state leaders are more effective than mandates. “The better route for the state to take is providing clear, consistent, and coherent counsel that our fight is against a deadly disease, not one another,” Leatherwood said in written comments to Baptist Press.
According to Kentucky Today, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron joined with six other states on Friday to file to a petition to challenge the action.
“Many Kentuckians are concerned by the overreach the Biden Administration is displaying in issuing a federal vaccine mandate through OSHA, and our office is taking action on their behalf and on behalf of the commonwealth,” said Cameron. “The power to make these decisions belongs to the states, and the Biden Administration cannot commandeer it to issue an over-broad and illegal mandate.”
Biden’s order is set to go in effect on Jan. 4, 2022.