Bishop O'Gorman Catholic schools governing board sues OSHA over federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate

The Bishop O'Gorman Catholic Schools governing board has filed a federal lawsuit against the United States Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration over the federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate, according to an email sent to O'Gorman families Friday morning.

Bishop O'Gorman is challenging the constitutional and statutory validity of the mandate, which requires private employers with 100 or more employees to either get the COVID-19 vaccination or submit to weekly testing, according to the email.

OSHA issued the vaccine mandate on Friday morning, deeming it necessary to protect workers at risk of contracting COVID-19 at work.

"The Bishop O'Gorman seeks the same protections for religious freedom that are provided for in our federal constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act," Kyle Groos, president of Bishop O'Gorman, wrote in the email.

The school faces serious fines if their employees do not submit to vaccination or weekly testing.

O'Gorman officials stressed the lawsuit was not filed on the basis of vaccines, but rather because of government overreach.

"Advocating for principles rooted in free will and faith"

Bishop O'Gorman officials explained their reasoning for the lawsuit in a three-page FAQ linked in the email sent to parents.

In one section, the school system states that while they did not seek out weighing in on the complicated issue of vaccines, the federal government chose to "exercise its authority in an effort to compel behaviors of employers, including religious nonprofit employers."

With the lawsuit, O'Gorman officials feels that they are affirming two truths: It is permissible to get the vaccine under certain circumstances and it is permissible for people of good faith to object in obedience of their well-formed conscience.

While O'Gorman officials state they are not anti-vaccine, they argue the government overstepped its authority.

Who's representing O'Gorman?

The Alliance Defending Freedom filed several lawsuits across multiple circuit courts Friday morning representing religious organizations like the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the Asbury Theological Seminary, the Christian Employers Alliance as well as several religious schools in the nation, David Cortman, the senior council for ADF, said in a press conference about the litigation Friday.

"Religious organizations should be free to operate consistent with their beliefs and their faith without the government interfering in those decisions," he said.

ADF hopes the outcome of the lawsuit is a stay on the mandate: that religious employers won't have to force their employees to take the vaccine.

"My encouragement to people based on my personal advisement is to be vaccinated but placing a religious institution in the position of intruding into the lives its employees on matters that are religiously debated, even within the institution and on which the Church body takes no official stand, that is an enormous step too far," said Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

What does the Pope have to say about vaccines?

Pope Francis, the head of the Catholic church, has questioned why people haven't received the COVID-19 vaccine, saying getting the vaccine is "an act of love."

O'Gorman, in step with the Vatican, can encourage vaccines but will not require them. The private school system says the vaccine mandate has less to do with the Vatican and more to do with the U.S. government stepping in to tell who religious organizations can and cannot employ.

Who else is joining the lawsuit?

O'Gorman joins 13 other petitioners in the lawsuit, according to court documents.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem also joined a multi-state lawsuit last week against the Biden Administration's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal contract workers and joined 10 other states in a lawsuit Friday morning challenging the mandate involving OSHA.

More: Gov. Kristi Noem, South Dakota join multi-state lawsuit against Biden administration COVID-19 vaccine mandate

The news comes days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed the COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11.

More: Children ages 5-11 can get Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in Sioux Falls at Sanford and Avera by Thursday

Follow Annie Todd on Twitter @AnnieTodd96. Reach out to her with tips, questions and other community news at or give her a call at 605-215-3757.

This article originally appeared on Sioux Falls Argus Leader: O'Gorman sues OSHA over federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate