MILFORD, Conn. — Milford Christian Church has filed a lawsuit against multiple state departments in Connecticut, claiming a newer law violates their First Amendment rights.
Listed in the lawsuit is the Connecticut State Department of Education, the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood, and the Connecticut Department of Public Health.
The law, An Act Concerning Immunizations, was altered in 2021 to remove all vaccine exemptions that are not medical. That means all students in daycare, PreK, and K-12 must get their required vaccines for school.
Milford Christian Church runs both a K-12 Academy and a Pre-K Center, called Little Eagles. Some of the students in that center did not receive the vaccinations required by the state. The state has warned the school that it must be in compliance.
"That they had a choice between compelling their students to vaccinate, expelling them if they didn't, or facing the force-able state closure," said Cameron Atkinson, an attorney with Atkinson Law, representing the church.
In a press conference on Friday, Atkinson said the school refuses to comply, standing by its rights.
"Our message to the state is clear. We will obey God first," Atkinson said.
"We have I think out of fear, we've overreached, and now could be depriving people of faith from daycare," said Pastor Jim Loomer of Milford Christian Church.
Directly after the press conference, Atkinson said the church and the state are working on a temporary agreement to keep their doors open as this case plays out in court.
"We hear you, we respect your faith. We are standing up to defend your faith," Atkinson said, speaking to those who have children who go to Little Eagles, and others dealing with a similar battle around the country.
FOX61 reached out to all state departments listed in the lawsuit, ultimately directed to the Office of the Attorney General.
A spokesperson for the AG responded in a statement saying:
"The plaintiff will submit information to the court as early as today to provide clarity. As always, the state prefers to work with schools collaboratively to meet licensure requirements and avoid any interruption in the education of students. That being said, vaccines save lives. The legislature’s action was fully lawful and necessary to protect public health. We have successfully defended multiple baseless challenges to this statute and will continue to defend the statute."
Still, parents are worried about the future of their children, with the threat of a school closure still on the table.
"It would halt the academic progress. And I want my daughter to start kindergarten when it's time for her to start kindergarten," said Marlene Beauregard, whose daughter goes to Little Eagles. "Now, someone is trying to undermine my parental right, my religious right."
From here, Atkinson said it's up to the judge in the case to decide how they will move forward. He said they will be in court on Monday for a scheduling conference.
However, Atkinson said the doors of Little Eagle will stay open as this case plays out in court.
Julia LeBlanc is a reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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