A religious freedom group announced this week that the Dallas-based Methodist Health System had finally allowed at least four employees to skirt the vaccine mandate over religious sensitivity after first declining their request.

The Methodist Health System had issued its vaccine mandate to all employees, including physicians, medical staff, volunteers, vendors, students, and contract staff. The policy was expected to affect up to 10,000 individuals and would come into effect as soon as Oct. 1, reported Fierce Healthcare

Those who decline to follow the rules would either have to quit or face termination. Some employees said applying for exemptions was not an easy task.

The Florida-based Liberty Counsel had received complaints from several hospital staff members saying their exemption request had been dismissed; even when it was for religious-linked reasons, Life Site News reported Thursday, Sept. 9.

One complaint said the vaccines’ connections with aborted fetal cell lines clashed with their religious beliefs. But the hospital rejected their concerns and the request. 

“MHS [Methodist Health System] is accusing the employees of religious ignorance and fraud,” Liberty Counsel wrote in a letter, “either for believing ‘erroneous information’ that the injections are associated with aborted fetal cell lines, or for holding theological beliefs that purportedly contradict their declared denomination’s public statement against the injections.”

Countering the hospital’s allegations that such worries were false by reminding that all the COVID-19 vaccines used in the U.S. were “produced by, derived from, manufactured with, tested on, developed with, or otherwise connected to or associated with aborted fetal cell lines.” 

Saying that the hospital had violated state laws that allow people to choose their medical treatment based on religious beliefs, the group warned of a lawsuit against the Dallas hospital.

According to Life Site News, the MHS hospital immediately granted four employees exemptions just hours after the Liberty Counsel’s involvement.

“Exemption Committee re-analyzed some of the exemption requests that were submitted and had been initially denied … and has reversed its initial decision and has now approved your exemption,” the hospital’s notice reads.

The religious freedom group said the situation of exemption requests being unlawfully rejected was more “widespread” than just the four employees seeking help from it, urging them to keep reporting their case.

In late July, Gov. Greg Abbott (R-Tex.) had issued an executive order declaring that his state would face COVID-19 outburst by urging personal responsibility, hence declining any implementation of a mandate. 

President Joe Biden, who had gradually become more aggressive with his pandemic policies, had criticized the approach.