OLATHE, Kan. — The grandparents of a 2-year-old Kansas boy have filed a lawsuit alleging the state is acting as “religious police” by requiring vaccinations for children.

Linus and Terri Baker sued the Kansas Department for Children and Families after the agency announced its intention to vaccinate the boy despite the family’s wishes, the Kansas City Star reported.

The Bakers have physical custody of the boy as his foster parents. The couple opposes immunization on religious and health grounds. But because the child is in temporary state custody, the department has the authority to make the immunization decision.

Under state law, children in child care facilities are required to have current immunizations unless there are health risks or religious reasons. If a child is enrolled in a school or school-operated preschool, the guardian must state “that the child is an adherent of a religious denomination whose religious teachings are opposed to such tests or inoculations,” according to the law.

Linus Baker said the religious exemption language is vague because asking a child if he is an adherent of a religion is “nonsensical and ridiculous.” The Bakers’ lawsuit argues that the exemption imposes an unconstitutional religious test and violates the Kansas Preservation of Religious Freedom Act.

Linus Baker also said it’s troubling that the state appears to be requiring people who cite the exemption to provide the specific denomination and its teaching opposed to immunization. He said the law doesn’t apply to everyone equally because someone may not be part of a specific denomination or they may have a personal objection not specified in a particular group’s teachings.

A department spokeswoman says the agency can’t comment on the pending lawsuit because they haven’t seen it yet. Agency officials have already notified the family they intend to immunize the boy.


Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com