A new federal lawsuit backed by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., founder and chairman of anti-vaccine advocacy group Children's Health Defense, is challenging New York’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate for healthcare workers for not allowing a religious exemption, citing Gov. Kathy Hochul’s recent comments at a Brooklyn megachurch.
The lawsuit was filed Friday in Albany federal court on behalf of four anonymous healthcare workers at Lourdes Hospital who are all Catholic, Press Connects reported.
Lawyers representing the workers, which include two doctors, a nurse and a scientist, cited statements Hochul made at the A.R. Bernard-led Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn on Sept. 26 urging members to become her “apostles” and promote the good news of COVID-19 vaccines.
"I need you to be my apostles. I need you to go out and talk about it and say, we owe this to each other. We love each other. Jesus taught us to love one another, and how do you show that love but to care about each other enough to say, please get the vaccine,” she said.
They contend that other remarks made at the church by Hochul, who is Catholic, indicated that anyone whose religious beliefs conflict with her own on vaccines is "invalid."
“We are not through this pandemic. I wished we were, but I prayed a lot to God during this time and you know what, God did answer our prayers. He made the smartest men and women, the scientists, the doctors, the researchers — He made them come up with a vaccine. That is from God to us and we must say, thank you, God. Thank you,” Hochul, who noted that Pope Francis didn't have a problem with Catholics taking the vaccine, said at the church.
The workers, however, said they believe their Catholic faith prevents them from "committing a grave sin" by taking COVID-19 vaccines that have used aborted fetal stem cell tissues as part of their research and development.
"The governor has declared open war against those who oppose vaccination on religious grounds because these religious beliefs are in conflict with her own," the complaint says. "Gov. Hochul repeatedly claims that religious beliefs in opposition to vaccination are illegitimate and invalid."
On Sept. 13, 17 Christian healthcare workers, including several doctors, also filed a lawsuit seeking religious exemptions from the COVID-19 vaccine mandate. A day later, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order against New York's health department from rejecting employer-approved religious exemptions to the vaccine mandate. A week later, the order was extended until Oct. 12, when a hearing is scheduled for the case.
Kennedy is listed as a supporting attorney on the most recent lawsuit against the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare workers in New York.
Last Friday, The Defender, the news outlet of the Children’s Health Defense, cited data from the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System showing 752,803 reports of adverse events from all age groups following COVID-19 vaccines, including 15,937 deaths and 105,758 serious injuries between Dec. 14, 2020, and Sept. 24, 2021.
This data includes case reports from U.S. manufacturers that were reported to their foreign subsidiaries. Under FDA regulations, if a manufacturer is notified of a foreign case report that describes an event that is both serious and unexpected, they are required to submit it to VAERS.
When these reports from foreign subsidiaries are excluded, 581,851 adverse events, including 7,215 deaths and 45,952 serious injuries, were reported in the U.S. between Dec. 14, 2020, and Sept. 24, 2021.
Of the 7,215 U.S. deaths reported as of Sept. 24, the data show that 11% occurred within 24 hours of vaccination, 16% occurred within 48 hours of vaccination and 29% occurred in people who experienced an onset of symptoms within 48 hours of being vaccinated.