First Liberty Institute amended its lawsuit on behalf of dozens of U.S. Navy SEALs to seek a class action that includes all U.S. Navy personnel who have requested a religious accommodation from the Navy’s vaccine mandate. Earlier this month, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas issued a preliminary injunction, stopping the Department of Defense from punishing Navy SEALs and Naval Special Warfare personnel who have religious objections to the Department’s vaccine mandate. If approved, the class action will protect every U.S. Navy service member who requested a religious accommodation from the vaccine mandate.
“Our clients are boldly leading the fight against the vaccine mandate, but no service member should face discipline or punishment for following their faith,” said Mike Berry, General Counsel for First Liberty Institute. “The fact that the military continues to demonstrate hostility to anyone who expresses religious objection to the vaccine mandate shows that the Biden Administration does not care about religious freedom. The lawsuit seeks to protect as many service members as possible from further punishment. We have to put a stop to this before any more harm is done to our national security.”
To date, the U.S. Navy has not approved a single religious accommodation request. And it seems the Navy isn’t giving religious service members the proper legal consideration required by law. Documents published in recent weeks show what appears to be a generic form letter denying religious accommodation requests across the board. As the federal judge said, their process is pure “theatre.”
In his preliminary injunction order earlier this month, Judge Reed O’Connor said, “The Navy servicemembers in this case seek to vindicate the very freedoms they have sacrificed so much to protect. The COVID-19 pandemic provides the government no license to abrogate those freedoms. There is no COVID-19 exception to the First Amendment. There is no military exclusion from our Constitution.”
Our brave military heroes are essentially being forced to choose between their faith or serving their country. This is outrageous, wrong and illegal. They’re protected by both federal law and military regulations to serve without having to give up their religious liberty.
First Liberty is going to need your ongoing support. This will be a tough legal battle, but we’re optimistic that together, we can win it.