School Unlawfully Revokes Student’s Religious Exemption

Aug 31, 2021

Liberty Counsel sent a demand letter to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute School of Science (RPI) for revoking a student’s religious exemption request against the COVID shot mandate. Now Liberty Counsel has filed a complaint against RPI with the New York Division of Human Rights. 

“Jane Doe” was notified of the COVID shot mandate in April 2021. Ms. Doe submitted the required religious exemption form and it was granted without issue. Her tuition was paid and she was considered properly enrolled at RPI. More than two months later, she received a “Letter for Exemption Requirement” in reference to RPI’s requirements and protocols for COVID-19 non-vaccinated students. She signed and returned the letter via e-mail to the Student Health Center. The university then sent an e-mail dated August 18, 2021, seven days before her date of arrival for the Fall 2021 semester on August 25, 2021, notifying her that the exemption had been revoked without an appeal process based on “guidelines” by RPI because “too many have been granted.” However, the school’s legal counsel stated that RPI was “treating everyone equally, because it was denying all religious exemption requests” filed after the arbitrary April cutoff date. 

Ms. Doe holds sincere religious beliefs that prohibits her from receiving the COVID shot. She opposes the injections because they all used aborted fetal cell lines in the testing phase, and Johnson & Johnson also uses aborted fetal cell lines in the deployment or distribution phase. She is the surviving twin of a naturally conceived identical twin pregnancy and her twin sister died in utero during the pregnancy. Doctors advised her parents to have an abortion and said she would likely be born with Down’s syndrome. Miraculously, Ms. Doe was born without any disabilities. God’s sovereign hand in her life story forms part of the basis for her sincerely held religious beliefs that prevent her from participating directly or indirectly in abortion or the destruction of human life.

The Equal Protection Clause of the New York State Constitution explicitly states that it is unlawful discriminatory practice for an educational institution to deny the use of its facilities to any person otherwise qualified, or to permit the harassment of any student or applicant, by reason of his race, color, religion, disability, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, sex, age or marital status, except that any such institution which establishes or maintains a policy of educating persons of one sex exclusively may admit students of only one sex. 

RPI has no authority to attempt to revoke a student’s religious exemption, on the basis that “too many students have now requested this exemption,” and others similarly situated could keep their religious exemptions “because they had them prior to April 2021.” This would be akin to RPI saying that (in RPI’s view) there are “too many students” of a particular race, color, disability, national origin, sex, or other protected categories on campus, and that others of those categories would only be allowed to remain if they were admitted “prior to April 2021.” 

The COVID shots cannot be mandatory under authorization of emergency use (EAU). 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 EAU authorization and not full FDA approval. The federal Emergency Use Authorization law and the FDA, including the FDA Fact Sheet, state unequivocally that each person has the “option to accept or refuse” the shots. In addition to federal law, the FDA includes the Nuremberg Code and the Helsinki Declaration on its website, emphasizing the fact that people cannot be forced to take experimental drugs without their full consent. 

Furthermore, COVID shots cannot be mandatory under Title VII. In general, employee vaccine religious exemption requests must be accommodated, where a reasonable accommodation exists without undue hardship to the employer, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Many people hold sincere religious beliefs against taking any vaccines, or taking those derived from aborted fetal cell lines, or taking those sold by companies that profit from the sale of vaccines and other products derived from abortion. Title VII, as amended, prohibits two categories of employment practices. 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.” 

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “It is shocking that Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute School of Science would violate federal and state law and deny a student’s religious exemption to succumb to an experimental drug which is associated with aborted fetal cells. We will not allow the rights and free choice of students to be violated. No school may force or coerce anyone to take these injections, and certainly not when doing so violates sincerely held religious beliefs.” 

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