Cartwright School District in Phoenix is being sued for its “refusal to grant—in fact, its refusal to even respond to—Mr. Bishop’s request for an accommodation that would allow him to honor his religious convictions that prevent him from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine,” Bishop’s attorney, Rebecca Dummermuth, told Superintendent Dr. LeeAnn Aguilar-Lawlor in a Sept. 9 letter made available to The Epoch Times.
The CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes COVID-19, has reportedly killed more than 660,000 Americans since the first death occurred in January 2020 in California.
Dummermuth is an attorney with the First Liberty Institute, a Plano, Texas-based public interest law firm that specializes in First Amendment and religious freedom issues.
Dummermuth said in the letter that the school district’s refusal came “despite the fact that 95 percent [of] district staff were carved out of its vaccine mandate. The district’s refusal to accommodate Mr. Bishop’s sincerely held religious beliefs, and its adverse employment action of transferring and demoting him to a position as substitute teacher, violate of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the Arizona Free Exercise of Religion Act, and executive orders by [Arizona] Governor [Doug] Ducey.”
A spokesman for the school district told The Epoch Times that Aguilar-Lawlor was unavailable to comment on the First Liberty letter due to a bereavement. The superintendent will return to the office next week.
Bishop’s demotion comes as President Joe Biden warned the estimated 80 million Americans who haven’t yet been vaccinated that “we have been patient, but our patience is wearing thin. And your refusal has cost all of us.”
Biden’s warning came in a speech in which he announced his signing of an executive order directing the Department of Labor to issue regulations mandating all private companies with 100 or more employees to require vaccination as a condition of employment.
But Biden’s announcement almost immediately sparked new protests from an already surging public resistance, with at least 19 governors and two attorneys general issuing statements disagreeing with Biden’s decision and vowing to defy it.
The defiant governors, all Republicans, include Arizona’s Gov. Doug Ducey, as well as those of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming.
Two state attorneys general, Sean D. Reyes of Utah and Todd Rokita of Indiana, also spoke out against the policy. Rokita is a former U.S. congressman. The Republican National Committee (RNC) said it’s suing in federal court in opposition to Biden’s forthcoming directive as well.
Many of those declining to be vaccinated cite religious grounds for doing so, including Bishop, according to Dummermuth.
“As a Christian, he believes that his body is a temple of God (I Corinthians 3:16-17, 6:19), and therefore he has a God-given responsibility to protect the physical integrity of his body and not to defile it (I Corinthians 8:7; II Corinthians 7:1),” she said in her letter to Aguilar-Lawlor.
“Additionally, he believes that human life begins at conception, and he staunchly opposes abortion. Therefore, receiving a vaccine that has been developed using aborted fetal cell lines would violate his conscience.”
The health care industry appears to be especially hard-hit by the growing resistance to vaccine mandates, with severe staffing shortages in multiple states, according to Liberty Counsel (LC).
The Florida-based LC, like First Liberty, is a public interest law firm that specializes in civil liberties issues, especially those involving religious freedom.
“There are thousands of nurses all over the United States that are refusing the injection because they don’t believe it’s been thoroughly tested or vetted, that it’s being forced, and/or they have a deeply held religious belief against it. Many of these nurses have either been put on unpaid leave or have been fired due to refusing the injection,” LC said in a Sept. 8 statement.
“In Texas, weeks after 150 hospital workers were fired by Houston Methodist, one of several hospitals struggling has reached a breaking point amid the COVID-19 outbreak.”
The statement quoted a California physician, Dr. Tom Sugarman, who said, “Oftentimes at hospitals, there are long waits and long delays. There’s not enough staff to keep beds open, and patients can languish waiting.”
Sugarman is an emergency physician and senior director of government affairs at Vituity, a physicians and medical services group.
In addition to clients in the health care industry, LC is representing hundreds of Department of Veterans Affairs employees who are seeking exemptions from Biden’s vaccine mandate for government workers, issued in August.