Military Religious Exemptions to COVID Vaccine

I saw this story yesterday: Judge blocks Navy vaccine policy for legal challengers citing religious objections

The gist is that a federal judge (in Texas, of course) is keeping the Navy from enforcing its vaccination policy with a group of service members (all SEALs), citing the fact that the Navy hasn’t approved any religious exemptions. The judge wrote, “The Navy service members in this case seek to vindicate the very freedoms they have sacrificed so much to protect. The COVID-19 pandemic provides the government no license to abrogate those freedoms. There is no COVID-19 exception to the First Amendment. There is no military exclusion from our Constitution.”

This is complete bullshit.

Good Order and Discipline is a military principle that under-girds the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and which allows the military to restrict the speech and behavior of its members in the interest of proper functioning of military operations. Protection from a pandemic is a necessity for ensuring mission readiness. The military services certainly have an interest in ensuring the health of its fighting force. The COVID vaccine is just one among dozens of other required vaccines.

The services and the federal government at large have allowed for military and civilian personnel to request medical or religious exemptions to the COVID vaccine. But, the requestor has to provide evidence; they can’t just say, “I have a religious objection.” Service members and civilians must provide:

  • A description of the religious belief, practice, or observance that is the basis for the request for a religious exemption from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement.
  • A description of when and how they came to hold the religious belief or observe the religious practice.
  • A description of how they have demonstrated the religious belief or observed the religious practice in the past.
  • An explanation of how the COVID-l9 vaccine conflicts with the religious belief, practice, or observance.
  • A statement concerning whether they have previously raised an objection to a vaccination, medical treatment, or medicine based on a religious belief or practice. And, if so, a description of the circumstances, timing, and resolution of the matter.
  • Any additional information that may be helpful in resolving the request for a religious exemption from the COVID-l9 vaccination requirement.

The reason that religious exemptions aren’t being granted is that applicants can’t demonstrate a history of conflict between their religious beliefs and medical treatments – especially vaccines. Service members get jabbed ALL THE TIME. If your weren’t complaining and asking for an exemption before now, your request is clearly not being made in good faith.

Folks aren’t making legitimate requests based on strongly held religious beliefs. They are cynically using religion as an excuse for their political ideologies. (Unless stupidity has recently been formally recognized as a religion.) The judge’s ruling is ideological as well. He knows this isn’t really about religious belief or practice. It’s about politics, and some service members’ adolescent refusal to comply with rules – which is precisely the kind of behavior that is contrary to good order and discipline.

If this ruling prevails, service members will be able to “get religion” any time they don’t want to comply with orders. It is a ridiculous ruling that is unlikely to survive additional scrutiny. Absent a legitimate religious basis for exemption, these service embers are going to need to either get the vaccine or get out of the service.

I hope it’s the latter.