Keeping kids safe is the number-one priority for any elementary school in America, right? But then there is the Cartwright School District in Phoenix, where selectively enforcing a Covid vaccination policy tops taking care of the kids.
How do we know this? Consider the case of one William Bishop, the now-former director for buildings and operations, who was recently demoted to substitute teacher by Cartwright Superintendent Dr. Lee-Ann Aguilar-Lawlor.
Why was Bishop demoted? Because his faith precludes his submitting to the Covid vaccination shot. The demotion came after he requested a religious accommodation, a request to which school officials never responded, except to bust him way down the pay chart.
Bishop is represented by the First Liberty Institute, the Plano, Texas-based public interest law firm that specializes in First Amendment litigation, especially when issues of religious freedom are involved.
Cartwright’s conduct is shot through with disrespect for constitutional liberties, to say nothing of common sense. Consider the description cited by First Liberty Counsel Rebecca Dummermuth in a September 9 letter to Aguilar-Lawlor:
“Cartwright’s actions are particularly indefensible because: (1) it already granted at least one nonreligious exemption from the mandate; (2) its demotion of Mr. Bishop will bring him into far more contact with students and other staff, thus contradicting the district’s presumed rationale for refusing to grant his accommodation request; (3) it chose not to impose its mandate on teachers, those most in contact with students and staff; (4) 21 percent of district employees remain unvaccinated; and (5) Mr. Bishop has natural immunity and his doctor advises against receiving the vaccine.
“These circumstances leave Cartwright with no tenable argument that a religious accommodation would impose undue hardship on it or that it has a compelling interest in imposing its mandate on Mr. Bishop but not many other employees (including those whose duties involve far more contact with students and staff).
“Therefore, the district is plainly in violation of the laws set forth above. To be clear, Mr. Bishop has no objection to a reasonable accommodation that could serve the District’s presumed health concerns. But he cannot accept the unlawful, second-class treatment to which the district has subjected him.”
Bishop’s objections are deeply rooted in his Christian faith, according to Dummermuth, who told Aquilar-Lawlor in the letter that:
“Mr. Bishop’s sincerely held religious beliefs prevent him from complying with the mandate to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. As a Christian, he believes that his body is a temple of God (I Corinthians. 3:16-17, 6:19), and therefore he has a God-given responsibility to protect the physical integrity of his body and not to defile it (I Corinthians. 8:7; II Corinthians. 7:1).
“Additionally, he believes that human life begins at conception, and he staunchly opposes abortion. Therefore, receiving a vaccine that has been developed using aborted fetal cell lines would violate his conscience.”
The district continues to pay Bishop his old salary, but the contract that specified the amount expires in the near future. Replacing it with a new contract based on a substitute teacher’s compensation will represent a 50 percent pay cut for Bishop.