Air Force Officer Asks Federal Court for Relief from Compulsory COVID-19 Vaccines

A decorated Air Force officer is suing the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Air Force, and the Surgeon General of the Air Force for mandating that she receive a COVID-19 vaccination despite her religious objections and her natural immunity. In a lawsuit filed January 6, 2022, in federal court, Thomas More Society attorneys are representing the officer, who has served her country for over 25 years.

The filing, made in the United States District Court in the Middle District of Georgia, details how the Air Force officer is being discriminated against because of her Christian beliefs. Like thousands of other service members, she objects to the COVID-19 vaccines because of their connection to abortion.

Thomas More Society Special Counsel Adam Hochschild explains how the Department of Defense is trying to force all military service members to be injected with a COVID-19 vaccine, even if they hold sincere religious beliefs against the vaccination.

“In August 2021, United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin issued a mandate for all service members of the Armed Forces to submit to being injected with the COVID-19 vaccination, and the military branches then entered their own similar orders,” Hochschild explained. “Our client already had COVID-19, tested positive for the antibodies, has been compliant with masking, social distancing, and other practices, is willing to work remotely, and, most importantly, has deeply held religious convictions against the vaccine. She sincerely believes that receiving one of the currently available COVID-19 vaccines would violate her conscience and would be contrary to her faith.”

Though religious leaders are divided over the morality of receiving COVID-19 vaccinations, there is no question that embryonic cell strains originally extracted from aborted fetuses were used in either the production or in the efficacy testing of each of the available COVID-19 vaccines. The military did not dispute the sincerity of the officer’s religious beliefs.

The officer had and fully recovered from COVID-19 in 2020; she twice tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies in the year following her recovery. She has been willing and able to work remotely, wear a mask, and test for COVID-19 periodically.

Despite all this, in December 2021, the Air Force issued a final denial of the officer’s military request for religious accommodation. The lawsuit challenges both the military and civilian mandates that apply to the officer, stating that the mandates violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the First Amendment of the Constitution, and the Administrative Procedure Act.

The lawsuit seeks various relief including an order enjoining the mandates and an order requiring accommodation of the officer’s sincere religious beliefs.

Read the Complaint, filed January 6, 2022, with the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia by Thomas More Society attorneys, in Air Force Officer v. Lloyd J. Austin III, Secretary of Defense et al. here.

SOURCE Thomas More Society