Contact: Mat Staver
DATE: January 31, 2002 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Federal Court Tells New York School District To Honor Parent's Religious Belief And Orders School To Admit Student Who Refuses Vaccinations
Rochester, New York - Federal Judge Michael Telesca ruled in favor of JoAnn Curtis, on behalf of her daughter Bryanna Curtis, against the Hilton Central School District and ordered that the 5-year-old girl be allowed to attend kindergarten without being immunized. The School District will not allow Bryanna to attend class, nor go onto any school property at any time a school-related event is taking place, until her parents violate their religious beliefs and have Bryanna vaccinated. For example, if her brother is involved in a school play in the evening, Bryanna would not be able to attend. The parents and students are represented by Attorneys Mathew D. Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel and Joel Oster, Litigation Counsel for Liberty Counsel.
New York state law requires school-aged children to be subjected to a laundry list of various vaccinations, including vaccinations that are solely derived from aborted fetal cell lines. State law provides exemptions to the vaccinations for medical reasons and to those who object based on religious grounds. Bryanna's parents, who are Roman Catholic, are opposed to immunizations for religious reasons. They believe that their body is the temple of God and that they should not defile their body with immunizations. In addition, several immunizations are derived from aborted fetal cell-lines, and they believe that injecting their bodies with such immunizations promotes abortion and violates the Sixth Commandment, "Thou Shall Not kill." The School District required Mrs. Curtis to attend an "inquisition," where the District's attorney was present, to respond to questions concerning her religious beliefs. During the "inquisition," she had to respond to questions about her devotional life, her theology, the groceries she buys, her medical history, and even the type of toppings that she puts on her ice cream. The School District then denied her religious exemption and Bryanna was not allowed to attend class. In the letter denying her the religious exemption, the School District stated, "[JoAnn's] statement on August 15 that her children know how to eat because they put fruit on ice cream as opposed to other sugar toppings, [is] contrary to actions recalled by staff members of her oldest son using sugar toppings on ice cream as opposed to fruit, at his birthday party at school."
Judge Telesca said Mrs. Curtis "demonstrated that her religious beliefs were genuine." "This court may not pass on the wisdom of [Curtis'] belief, nor on the manner upon which she came to hold that belief, provided that she maintains a sincere and genuine religious objection to immunization," the judge said in his ruling. Mrs. Curtis said, "I was just following my heart and God's command on my heart."
Staver said, "This case represents a great victory for religious freedom." Attorney Oster, who argued the case in federal court, said, "Subjecting parents to detailed and intrusive investigations, such as what Mrs. Curtis encountered, not only violates the United States Constitution's guarantee of religious freedom, but also hearkens back to the Inquisition. The School is obligated by the Constitution to protect and defend the religious beliefs of parents. By denying the parents a religious exemption because one of their sons used sugar toppings on his ice cream, Defendants case mocked those constitutional rights," concluded Oster.
Mathew D. Staver, Esq.
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