(NewsReady.com) – President Joe Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin have ordered all military personnel to get the COVID-19 vaccines. Thousands of service members have applied for religious exemptions, but the Pentagon has denied them all — until now.
On January 13, two US Marines became the first military members to receive religious exemptions. Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Andrew Wood spoke to Task & Purpose about the news, claiming the exemptions are “meticulously reviewed” before a three-person religious accommodation board within the Manpower and Reserve Affairs makes a decision.
Two members of the U.S. Marine Corps were given religious exemptions from the Pentagon’s Covid vaccine mandate, the first of their kind. 95% of active-duty Marines are inoculated, yet thousands of troops have tried to get exemptions on religious grounds. https://t.co/OZDFoiuoql
— The New York Times (@nytimes) January 14, 2022
More than 13,700 service members have asked for exemptions. According to reports, the Army has rejected 162 of 2,128 requests, with no approvals. Marines have submitted 3,350 requests, of which the branch has processed 3,212 and approved 2 in total. The Navy has had 3,038 requests from active-duty members, but none have been approved. And, the Air and Space Forces have rejected 2,387 requests, while 2,158 are still pending.
Interestingly, the Navy just lost a lawsuit related to vaccine exemptions. US District Judge Reed O’Connor ruled in favor of a group of 35 special forces members, including several Navy SEALs, who argued the military was violating their First Amendment rights. Contrary to the military’s assertion that it meticulously reviews the exemptions, the judge called the process “theater” because the Pentagon never approves them.
Just two weeks after O’Connor issued his opinion, two Marines have exemptions. Coincidence?
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