Catholic nun sues D.C. over denied religious exemption from healthcare worker vaccine mandate

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Catholic nun sues D.C. over denied religious exemption from healthcare worker vaccine mandate

Via Just The News:

Sister Deirdre Byrne, a Roman Catholic nun who is also a physician-surgeon and a retired U.S. Army colonel, is suing the city of Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser, and the director of the Department of Health over the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare workers.

Attorneys with the Thomas More Society, which is representing Byrne, filed the lawsuit on Wednesday in the federal U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after the city refused to grant her a religious exemption from the vaccine mandate.

“Sister Deirdre has sought — and been denied — a religious exemption from DC’s health worker COVID-19 vaccination mandate,” Thomas More Society Special Counsel Christopher Ferrara said in a statement. “All three COVID-19 vaccines approved in the United States have been tested, developed, or produced with cell lines derived from abortions, something to which Sister Deirdre has deep and sincere religious opposition.”

Byrne is a member of the Little Workers of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, has served overseas as a solider and missionary, and is board-certified as both a general surgeon and family physician. She provides free, volunteer medical services to those in need, including the poor and illegal immigrants.

As the D.C. Department of Health took nearly six months to consider Byrne’s religious exemption request, she continued practicing medicine without being vaccinated. The hospitals and clinics she worked at didn’t object as they benefited from her unpaid services.

Byrne received a denial of her request in an email that was an unsigned letter in draft form.

“The only stated basis for the denial is the legally non-existent grounds that her religious exemption would pose an ‘undue hardship’ to DC|Health,” according to a Thomas More Society press release.

The Department of Health denied Byrne’s request despite conceding the sincerity of her religious objection, the fact that she contracted COVID and T-cell testing confirms she’s immune to the disease, and that she’s not employed by the department, which means it “cannot as a matter of law suffer any ‘hardship'” from her volunteer medical services, according to the Thomas More Society.

Bowser has been chastised by the court on two previous occasions for burdening religion with her “emergency powers,” the society noted.

“Judicial intervention is required once again,” Ferrara said. “This time to prevent a senseless bar on the practice of medicine by a religious sister who has devoted her career in the District of Columbia to healing the sick who cannot afford quality medical care.

“The suit against Bowser and DC|Health (the district’s health department) is based upon the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, both of which protect Sister Deirdre’s fundamental right to the free exercise of her religion.”

He also said that it seems the city’s health department has not granted any religious exemptions from the vaccine mandate.


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