Christian students at Western University who have continually been denied religious exemptions to the school’s three-dose vaccine mandate are suing on the grounds of discrimination.
In a press release, Liberty Coalition Canada (LCC), an organization advocating for human rights and constitutional freedoms, announced it will be representing Western students who have not complied with the university’s mandates due to their deeply held Christian beliefs.
LCC lawyer James Kitchen said he has reviewed several letters of exemption denials students received from the university. Each one contained similar form, brevity, anonymity and included no details as to why students were denied or how they could appeal the decision.
“This is in utter defiance of Western’s obligation at law to not discriminate against Christian students by providing a reasonable accommodation or showing, with facts and reasons why it cannot provide accommodation.” Kitchen said.
“Sadly, like most universities in the Covid era, Western seems to prioritize the appearance of a strict adherence to wokeism over adherence to the law or respecting the rights of its students,” wrote Kitchen.
Kitchen accused Western of denying “large numbers of requests for human rights accommodation from Christian students.”
The allegations have not been tested in court.
In August, Kitchen was able to have one exemption denial reversed after issuing a demand letter to Western. Kitchen has since provided two more letters, but Western has held firm on its denials.
Western lawyers told Kitchen that the students’ Christian beliefs are not seen as being uniquely personal to them as they are shared by other students.
“According to Western, when Christian students share similar Christian beliefs, those beliefs are no longer protected by law,” he said. “Vaccine mandates and refusals to accommodate Christians are about political science, not medical science, and represent a rejection of the rule of law.”
According to the LCC it is currently unknown how many Christian students at Western were denied exemptions on the basis of religious beliefs.
Late last month, after much pushback from students, Western University delayed the implementation of their booster mandate from Oct. 1 to Jan. 9 2023. The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has upheld Western University’s controversial booster vaccine mandate. Justice Kelly Tranqulli dismissed the challenge by five students and found that Western officials are “expressly permitted to govern its affairs,” defending their right to impose a mandate even in the absence of a provincial mandate.