UPDATE Sept. 8, 2021: Under severe pressure, hospital grants religious exemptions to COVID shots
Methodist Health System in Texas is firing dozens of workers for refusing to take the experimental COVID-19 vaccinations, and is threatening many more, but now is facing resistance in the form of a legal demand letter that accuses officials in the corporation of saying workers can’t have religious exemptions because they believe the “wrong things.”
The demand letter is from Liberty Counsel, which suggests the medical care company utilize only legal reasons for rejecting exemption requests based on religion, or the case could end up in court.
The letter demands the system preserve all records, in case that happens.
“Methodist Health System cannot violate federal and state law and deny employees’ religious exemptions to inject a drug into their body. Health care heroes should not be treated like zeros. Do these hospitals really think that they can operate by reducing so many staff that are entitled to make a personal choice based upon the religious beliefs?” said Liberty Counsel chief Mat Staver. “These irrational mandates will soon cause a national health care crisis because of the reduction of health care workers.”
The situation is that Methodist has ordered its employees to be vaccinated by October 1. If they want an exemption based on their beliefs, they must request that by September 10.
But, Liberty Counsel explains, the hospital is rejecting virtually all requests, including for reasons that are not allowed.
For example, Methodist accuses its workers of requesting an exemption “based on erroneous information,” or because their denomination holds a different position that they do. Also, it rejects requests if people have had other vaccinations in the past.
“The four employees represented by Liberty Counsel submitted religious exemptions because of their sincere religious beliefs regarding the undeniable association between COVID-19 injections and aborted fetal cell lines. All three of the currently available COVID injections are produced by, derived from, manufactured with, tested on, developed with, or otherwise connected to or associated with aborted fetal cell lines,” Liberty Counsel said.
But they were rejected.
The problem for the hospital is that, “Texas law dictates that employees at Methodist Health System have the fundamental right to determine what medical care to accept and refuse. It also protects the rights of all health care workers to abstain from participation in abortion. In addition, the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act requires employers to accommodate employees’ sincere religious beliefs,” Liberty Counsel explained.
Further, “The COVID shots cannot be mandatory under authorization of emergency use (EUA). On March 27, 2020, the Health and Human Services (HHS) declared that circumstances exist justifying the EUA of drugs and biological products for COVID-19. That means people must be told the risks and benefits, and they have the right to decline a medication that is not fully licensed. All of the COVID-19 shots (Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson) have received only EUA authorization and not full FDA approval.”
And, the letter explains, Methodist could be violating Title VII, a federal law, because “It is unlawful for an employer: ‘(1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; or (2) to limit, segregate, or classify his employees or applicants for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.'”
The letter is to Methodist CEO James Scoggin Jr., lawyer Michael Price, and others, and it explains the hospital, and its officials, are “not permitted to judge the validity or reasonableness of any employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs.”
“And given MHS’s barely concealed animus towards the religious beliefs of its employees, any employee who would risk MHS’s retaliation by making a religious exemption request should be presumed sincere, and the law requires it,” the letter warned.
Further, the hospital is “not permitted” to determine which religious adherent “has a ‘correct’ or ‘proper’ or ‘valid’ understanding of religious doctrine…”
The Supreme Court, in fact, has stated “religious beliefs need not be acceptable, logical, consistent, or comprehensible to others…”
Beside the federal law protections, Texas state law also protects the employees, the letter explained, including granting a right to “abstain from participation in abortion,” which is involved because all of the vaccines were developed or tested with cell lines from abortions.
A previous lawsuit over the issue involving Houston Methodist was thrown out by a district judge who claimed that it was not illegal to discriminate against an employee on the basis of religion.
The hospital announced April 1 that all of its 25,000 employees must be vaccinated. The 178 workers who chose not to get a shot or were not fully vaccinated initially were suspended for 14 days without pay.
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