Christian Soccer Players Sue Western Michigan University Over Vaccine Mandate

By Steven Kovac
Steven Kovac
Steven Kovac
Reporter
Steven Kovac is an Epoch Times reporter who covers the state of Michigan. He is a former small businessman, local elected official, and conservative political activist. He is an ordained minister of the Gospel. Steven and his wife of 32 years have two grown daughters.
August 31, 2021 Updated: August 31, 2021

Four Christian female soccer players are suing Western Michigan University for rejecting their claims of religious exemption to the school’s mandate that all student athletes be vaccinated by Aug. 31.

The university’s stated policy is, if the women do not get vaccinated by the set date, they would be kicked off the soccer team.

The lawsuit cited a letter of explanation from Western Michigan University (WMU) that stated the reason for its refusal of the women’s religious exemption.

“The university has a compelling interest in taking action to avoid the significant risk posed to the intercollegiate athletic programs of a COVID-19 outbreak due to the unvaccinated participants, and prohibiting unvaccinated members of the teams from engaging in practices and competition is the only effective manner of accomplishing this compelling interest,” the letter said.

The women’s attorney, Dave Kallman from the Great Lakes Justice Center, stated, “The Constitution does not become irrelevant or inapplicable during a pandemic.”

Kallman further maintained that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) does not require vaccination mandates of its member schools.

The Epoch Times contacted the university for comment but has not yet received a response.

The federal civil rights lawsuit was filed Monday in the U.S. District Court (Western District of Michigan), not long before the university’s vaccine deadline went into effect.

Along with his request for injunctive relief and nominal damages, including attorney fees, Kallman asked the court for expedited consideration of his motion for a temporary restraining order to prevent his clients from being removed from the soccer team.

Kallman said expedited consideration is necessary because the women are being harmed now, and the damage to them is “irreparable.”

According to the NCAA schedule, the women’s collegiate soccer regular season began Monday.

The complaint alleges that the school’s policy violates the women’s First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion, as well as their rights under the 14th Amendment, which prohibits the abridgement of privileges or immunities of U.S. citizens by the states, and guarantees equal protection under the law.

Western Michigan University does not require the general population of its students to be vaccinated, but they must be tested once a week. Only student athletes must be vaccinated against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.

Wearing a mask is required on campus regardless of vaccination status with students and faculty members masking up indoors at all times. Masks are also required to be worn outdoors in any gatherings over 100 people.

Kallman said his clients have agreed to protective measures, like wearing a mask, and submitting to the school’s requirement for weekly testing.

Violations by the university of the women’s right to be free from religious discrimination under the Michigan Constitution, as well as under federal and Michigan civil rights statutes are also alleged.

The complaint alleges that WMU’s vaccination mandate policy deprives the women of their right to due process, right to privacy, personal identity, dignity, bodily integrity, and self-autonomy.

The complaint further alleges that the university’s policies punish the women for exercising their constitutionally and statutorily protected rights “to make their own medical decisions consistent with their faith and in consultation with their doctors.”

Kallman said every person has the right to refuse medical treatment, and that the Constitution does not allow Western Michigan University to force the women “to accept an invasive medical injection against their sincerely held religious beliefs.”

Steven Kovac
Steven Kovac
Reporter
Steven Kovac is an Epoch Times reporter who covers the state of Michigan. He is a former small businessman, local elected official, and conservative political activist. He is an ordained minister of the Gospel. Steven and his wife of 32 years have two grown daughters.