Crazy things tend to happen in Port Charles, New York. There was the time someone got plastic surgery only to wake up with someone else’s memories, and that summer when one of the townsfolk plotted to hold the world hostage. And let’s not forget when James Franco showed up a decade ago as a serial killer. Still, perhaps the most legally significant thing ever to happen in the fictional setting of ABC’s General Hospital is the termination of Ingo Rademacher. The actor played Jasper “Jax” Jacks for decades, until a worldwide pandemic arrived. Then, a miraculous vaccine came along, and plot twist, Rademacher refused to take it. He was fired, and then he sued.
Yes, this all really happened. Just before New Year’s Eve, Rademacher and his former employer, ABC, filed their respective briefs in a soap operatic case that raises genuinely serious debate on how courts should grapple with the meaning of religion and the place of politics in our society.
Rademacher, after all, doesn’t actually belong to an organized church. Yet he maintains that it’s God’s will that he not inject himself with a substance he believes is foreign to nature. He’s now claiming religious discrimination, to which the Disney unit responds that taking care of one’s physical body lacks any “metaphysical element” and needn’t be accommodated. “Rademacher’s beliefs are not ‘religious’ in nature,” Steven Marenberg, the attorney representing ABC, told the Los Angeles judge overseeing the case.