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Minnesota native Kenny Mauer is one of three former NBA referees suing the league on a claim that they were suspended or fired for failing to follow the NBA's COVID-19 vaccinate mandate despite requesting religious and/or medical exemptions.

"I just think it's time that people find out how ridiculous some of these reasons are for denying these exemptions. I've been a Catholic and a Christian since I was born," Mauer said Tuesday on WCCO-AM 830. "I never thought that having a faith in our Lord Jesus Christ would prevent me from refereeing NBA basketball games but it has."

Mauer, Jason Phillips and Mark Ayotte filed lawsuit in Manhattan federal court in mid-November, according to Reuters. The trio claim they lost their jobs because they refused to abide by the NBA's COVID-19 vaccine mandate, which the referees' union agreed to in 2021. The mandate was lifted before the start of the current NBA season and none of them have been reinstated. 

Mauer said he filed religious and medical exemptions and both were denied. He's now accusing the NBA of questioning his religious beliefs. 

"We took part in a 30-minute interview. A Jewish lawyer from the NBA office interviewed all of us for about 30 minutes and I guess he determined if we were religious or not. That to me is ridiculous. Asking us questions that didn't even pertain to our religion," said Mauer.

Mauer, 67, said he doesn't support abortion and cited the misleading claim that COVID-19 vaccines are made with "aborted fetal cells," which influenced his decision to not get vaccinated. 

Vineeta Sawkar, conducting the interview for WCCO, ended it after Mauer mentioned aborted fetal cells and the lawyer's Jewish faith, saying "the religion of the attorney who questioned you is not relevant." 

Misinformation about vaccines being manufactured with aborted fetal cells has been disproved. According to UCLA Health, Johnson & Johnson did use fetal cell lines (not fetal tissue) when developing their vaccine, while Pfizer and Moderna used fetal cell lines to test their vaccines. 

Those cell lines were grown in a laboratory and stem from elective abortions from the 1970s-80s, and are "thousands of generations removed from the original fetal tissue." 

Furthermore, Pope Francis and the Vatican say it is "morally acceptable" to take the shot to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and doing so does not represent the "moral endorsement of the use of cell lines proceeding from aborted fetuses." At the same time, the Vatican encouraged pharmaceutical companies to produce vaccines that do not employ the use of fetal cell lines. 

Mauer began his NBA refereeing career in 1986.

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