The U.S. military and its courts are going to be looking deeply into religion soon, as the Biden administration has announced its demands for members of the U.S. military who want a religious exemption from the president’s requirement that everyone take the experimental COVID shots.
Fox News reports that the Pentagon’s guidelines have been released.
“There is a religious exemption possibility for any mandatory vaccine, and there’s a process that we go through to counsel the individual both from a medical and from a command perspective about using a religious exemption,” John Kirby, a spokesman for the Pentagon, explained.
He said military service members who wish to seek an exemption will be required to be counseled by a medical professional and a commander over the risks posed by not receiving the vaccine. The report didn’t indicate counseling about the dangers posed by the vaccines.
They also will be grilled about how their decision could affect deployability, travel and more.
Butch Bracknell, a retired Marine and NATO adviser, said in a blog report that exemptions, including for medical and religious reasons, will likely be limited.
He said those asking for a religious exemption will have to prove that being vaccinated would violate their sincere, closely held beliefs. Bracknell said those requests would go through an examination about whether the religion is even “legitimate.”
He explained officials will look at the governing texts for a faith, a holy book, and its history.
“You can’t make up a religion saying, ‘I am now a worshiper of sunflowers and these are the tenants (sic) of my faith,'” he said.
Reports confirm that officials expect active-duty forces in the military to be vaccinated by mid-September, either voluntarily or by coercion.
Kirby said, “We have every expectation that once the vaccines are made mandatory, the troops are going to….do the right thing. Going forward with this particular vaccine, the secretary’s expectation is that commanders are going to treat the administration of that vaccine with – as he wrote in his memo – professionalism, skill, and compassion.”
It was Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin who confirmed all service members who are not already vaccinated will be required to receive either the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccine by Sept. 15.
About 74% of the Navy members, 65% of the Air Force and 50% of the Army members have gotten at least one shot already.
There are options for commanders to force unit members to get vaccinated, including forced administrative separation or court-martial.
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