The Biden administration is being sued for denying religious vaccine exemptions to Navy SEALs.
The vaccine mandate deadline is approaching for all service members and thousands are speaking out about their denial based on religious reasons. The SEALs, sailors, and other Navy service members are Protestant, Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox.
The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court in Fort Worth and names President Joe Biden, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, and Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro as defendants in the lawsuit.
Their complaint argues (pdf) that the plaintiffs sought a religious exemption to the Pentagon’s vaccine mandate but were denied the “fundamental right to the free exercise of religion and protection from agency action that is unlawful, contrary to law, and arbitrary and capricious.”
Lawyers for the SEALs also made reference to recent media reports that quoted a Navy spokesperson as saying that to date, “multiple religious accommodation requests related to the COVID vaccine mandate have been adjudicated and none have yet been approved.”
In a news release accompanying the lawsuit, First Liberty argued that because the Navy hasn’t granted a vaccine mandate exemption, it suggests the Biden administration is allegedly attempting to force out any military service member who refuses the vaccine.
“This appears to be an attempted ideological purge,” Mike Berry, general counsel for First Liberty Institute, said in the release. “Forcing a service member to choose between their faith and serving their country is abhorrent to the Constitution and America’s values … After all these elite warriors have done to defend our freedoms, the Navy is now threatening their careers, families, and finances. It’s appalling and it has to stop before any more harm is done to our national security.”
Navy service members have until Nov. 28 to receive both shots of the mRNA vaccine or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson shot.
Their “sincerely held religious beliefs forbid each of them from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine for a variety of reasons based upon their Christian faith as revealed through the Holy Bible and prayerful discernment,” the lawsuit said.