Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) is joining a federal lawsuit against an OSHA ordinance that would require employers to enforce a COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
SBTS president Albert Mohler tweeted the announcement on Friday morning, saying, “Religious institutions must not be turned into instruments of government coercion. That’s why we are taking this action. The @SBTS position is clear. Thankful for @AllianceDefends.”
SBTS, which is located in Louisville, Kentucky, has over 3,300 students and more than 300 employees. SBTS does not have an official position regarding the COVID-19 vaccine itself, though their website does “strongly encourage” employees to be vaccinated.
In his tweet, Mohler provided a link to the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life. ADF said that SBTS filed a lawsuit against the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regarding the Biden administration’s vaccine mandates that require compliance by January 1, 2022. OSHA’s COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard became effective November 5, 2021.
According to the ADF, the mandate requires all private employers who have 100 or more employees to require the COVID-19 vaccination for their workers or weekly COVID-19 testing. The mandate also requires employers to enforce a mask mandate for unvaccinated employees. Those who refuse to comply are subject to termination.
“It is unacceptable for the government to force religious institutions to become coercive extensions of state power,” Mohler said. “We have no choice but to push back against this intrusion of the government into matters of conscience and religious conviction. This institution exists for the purpose of educating ministers for churches. This seminary must not be forced to stand in for the government in investigating the private health decisions of our faculty and employees in a matter involving legitimate religious concerns.”
“We are glad to join with Asbury Theological Seminary in taking a stand against government coercion. The fact that the largest U.S. seminaries of the Baptist and Methodist traditions are here standing together against this mandate should send a clear and urgent message to Christians and to the nation,” Mohler said. “I am thankful for the excellent work of Alliance Defending Freedom as they present our petition to the court.”
SBTS’s president has stated that he isn’t against the COVID-19 vaccine. In fact, Mohler announced in December 2020 that he would be taking the vaccine, making that statement before the vaccine was even available. Mohler said that “medical treatment is an extension of God’s common grace, and Christians have always understood this. That is why, throughout history, where you found Christians, you found hospitals and the church treating the sick.”
Mohler explained that he would encourage others to take the vaccine, but he would not coerce someone into doing so.
ADF lawyers are requesting that the enforcement of the mandate be suspended while legal action moves forward. ADF will challenge the Biden administration’s authority in issuing COVID-19 vaccine requirements on employers, saying it’s unconstitutional.
“The states and religious employers argue that the federal government cannot coerce individuals nationwide to undergo medical treatment, and it lacks authority to conscript employers to compel that result,” their statement reads.
The ADF they is litigating “multiple lawsuits” with regard to vaccine mandates across the country.