The University of Colorado (CU) Anschutz Medical Campus is facing a court battle after it denied requests by employees and students to be granted religious exemptions from its COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
In a lawsuit filed before the US District Court, a pediatrician and medical student at CU claim that school administrators only grant exemptions on the basis of organized religious beliefs, disregarding the “veracity” of personal religious beliefs.
The student, named “Jane Doe” in the complaint to protect her from retaliation, said she requested a religious exemption to the mandate, citing her Catholic beliefs and opposition to “abortion-derived cell lines” used in making the Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
The pediatrician, named “John Doe,” reportedly requested an exemption due to his Buddhist beliefs and his avoidance of products developed through killing or harming animals (including human beings).
The plaintiffs argue that if they are not granted a vaccine exemption and still refuse vaccination they face a “top-down cultural, societal, and legal assault.”
Medical School Response
CU Medical School spokesperson Mark Couch stressed that the mandatory vaccine policy at the institution is meant to protect students, employees, and the millions of patients it serves “the best way possible” every year.
The school did not grant Jane Doe a religious exemption because the policy only recognizes religious beliefs wherein the teachings are opposed to all types of immunization, according to the complaint.
As for John Doe, the university said he failed to get an exemption because his reasons “are all of a personal nature and not part of a comprehensive system of religious beliefs.”
Aside from requesting religious exemptions, the plaintiffs are seeking money for court costs and personal damages.