Military Continues to Deny Religious Exemptions

TAMPA, FL — As Liberty Counsel prepares for a hearing in the U.S. District Court in Tampa on Thursday, February 10 for Navy SEAL 1 v. Biden, the Department of Defense (DOD) continues to unlawfully discriminate against military service members by allowing medical exemptions for the COVID-19 shots while denying religious exemptions. 

Judge Steven Merryday ordered each branch of the military to file a detailed report regarding religious exemptions from the COVID-19 shot every 14 days beginning Friday, January 7, 2022. The latest filings received by the court as of February 4, 2022, show that out of 24,818 religious exemption requests received, only four were granted, and three of those were questionable since as least two of those service members were already scheduled to leave the military. However, 4,146 medical exemptions have been granted.

Last Wednesday, Judge Merryday pointed out the DOD’s unlawful discriminatory actions when he granted a temporary restraining order for two service members, a U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel and a U.S. Navy Captain who is a Command Surface Warfare Officer, as a result of Liberty Counsel’s request for an emergency injunction. Liberty Counsel will seek to extend this emergency injunction and to obtain the same for all the military plaintiffs. Then Liberty Counsel will continue to seek to certify the class of all military service members, federal employees, and federal civilian contractor plaintiffs to obtain the same protections for everyone. 

Liberty Counsel represents plaintiffs from five branches of the military, federal employees, and federal civilian contractors who have been unlawfully mandated to get the COVID shots or face punishment and discharge from the military or termination from employment. While the current order applies to two of the many military plaintiffs because of the immediate harm, the lawsuit includes members from all branches of the military and also requests class certification to cover every member whose religious exemption has been denied. 

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “The reports from the Department of Defense continue to reveal that while the military is allowing unvaccinated service members with medical exemptions, it is unlawfully denying religious exemptions. We look forward to this week’s hearing to end this unlawful abuse of our military personnel.”