- CAMDEN, NJ -- Nancy Mergenthal
filed suit on behalf of her son against the Gloucester Township School
District after he was expelled by school officials in December of 2003
for refusing to receive the Hepatitis B vaccine. Mrs. Mergenthal is represented
by Mathew D. Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel,
and Joel Oster, Litigation Counsel for Liberty Counsel.
- Mrs. Mergenthal is a Christian who worships at the Bethel
Christian Center. She has a sincerely held belief that her body is the
temple of God that she should not intentionally defile, and she has come
to believe that she should not subject her children to immunizations, particularly
Hepatitis B. Her oldest son, Gene, at one time had a severe reaction to
an immunization and almost died. New Jersey law provides that a child shall
be exempted from mandatory immunization if the parent objects in writing,
explaining how the administration of the immunization conflicts with a
bona fide religious tenet or practice.
- After school officials informed Mrs. Mergenthal that
her son must be immunized, she submitted a written request for exemption,
explaining in detail her religious beliefs and why immunizations conflicted
with these beliefs. Mrs. Mergenthalâs pastor and her physician also
submitted letters supporting her objection to immunizations. The pastor,
Rev. Kurt Kinney, stated in part: ãI am writing as her pastor to
plead with you to listen with an open heart to her request and grant that
which she asks so that Matthew can return to the school he enjoys and see
the fairness of this great state.ä Despite her request, the state
of New Jersey denied the exemption and the school expelled Matthew and
then threatened to pursue truancy charges against Mrs. Mergenthal.
- After Mrs. Mergenthal filed suit on January 4, 2004,
school officials agreed to allow Matthew to return to school, but the case
is still pending. Staver said, ãMany people have sincerely held
religious beliefs that do not permit them to subject their bodies to immunizations
in general, or to some immunizations in particular. Thatâs why virtually
every state in the country has an exemption from mandatory immunizations
for medical or religious reasons. Although New Jersey has such an exemption
provision, state and school officials ran roughshod over Mrs. Mergenthalâs
religious beliefs. Itâs a sad day when government officials will
only respect constitutional liberties after they are subjected to a lawsuit.ä
Hepatitis B is not a highly contagious condition. It can only be transmitted
in one of three ways. These three risk factors include a mother who is
chronically infected at the time of birth, blood products primarily through
sharing dirty needles, or promiscuous sex. Forcing a Hepatitis B vaccine
on children conflicts with most religious beliefs and instruction of parents
that their children should avoid promiscuous sex and illegal drug use.
- Parents -- Know Your Rights!
- Don't be caught off guard by not being informed about
your religious rights. Call 800-671-1776 and ask for your free copy of
"Compulsory Vaccinations Threaten Religious Freedom", an informative
10-page brochure that provides surprising facts about vaccines. You can
also request the brochure on "Parental Rights to Direct Education
of Children" -- a useful legal guide for all parents.
- Mathew D. Staver, Esq.
- Liberty Counsel
- PO Box 540774
- Orlando, FL 32854