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Creighton University A group of students is suing their Catholic Jesuit university for refusing to grant religious exemptions to the school’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate.
On September 8, four students filed a lawsuit against Creighton University claiming that the school violates students’ religious freedoms by refusing to provide a religious exemption to the COVID-19 vaccine. The lawsuit specifically charges Creighton with “arbitrary and disparate treatment of students and violations of religious freedom.”
According to a press release from the students’ legal representation, the school set a September 7 deadline for students to file proof of vaccination. The mandate applies to all Creighton students, even those who exclusively attend online classes. The school announced that anyone who refused to present proof of vaccination by the September 7 deadline would be “administratively withdrawn from the school.”
The university initially issued religious waivers for students when the vaccines were under Emergency Use Authorization, though the religious exemption was removed after the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine received full FDA approval on August 23. Creighton informed students that they must get the COVID-19 vaccine, submit a medical exemption, or withdraw from the university.
On September 8, students who had not filed proof of vaccination began receiving notification from the university, advising them that their school account had been placed on hold. Some students were informed that they cannot attend classes until they upload their vaccination records.
According to the lawsuit, students allege that the university’s policies make them “feel that they are being pressured and coerced to receive a vaccination that they do not want.” Creighton is the only university in the Big East Conference that does not permit religious exemptions, except for the University of Connecticut which dubs religious exemptions as “personal exemptions.”
Robert Sullivan, the students’ legal representation, said that a Catholic school should not force students to choose between an education and their “sincerely held” religious beliefs.
“Many students and parents are disturbed that a religious institution is not allowing religious exemptions,” Sullivan said. “A Catholic university should never be placing its students in such a position where they may be required to violate the teachings of the Church.”
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