This week, a lawsuit has been filed on behalf of dozens of U.S. Navy SEALs seeking religious exemptions from the Defense Department’s (DOD) vaccination mandate.
This lawsuit claims that service members’ First Amendment rights are being violated by the military, which is also allegedly intimidating them into getting vaccinated against COVID-19.
On Tuesday, the lawsuit was filed by First Liberty Institute on behalf of around 35 active-duty SEALs and three reservists, claiming the military is violating their constitutional rights. In the filing, it was claimed that the SEALs represented are all members of various denominations within the Christian faith, and they are objecting to the vaccine mandate based on “their sincerely held religious beliefs.”
Michael Berry, First Liberty Institute’s general counsel, and Lt. Col. U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, told Fox News that the vaccine mandate is harmful to this country’s national security.
“After all the sacrifices these elite warriors made to defend our freedoms, the Navy is now threatening their careers, families, and finances,” he said. “It’s appalling, and it has to stop before any more harm is done to our national security. Forcing a service member to choose between their faith and serving their country is abhorrent to the Constitution and America’s values.”
In the lawsuit, it is claimed that the U.S. Navy leadership’s “threat of non-deployability substantially pressures Plaintiffs to take an action (receiving a COVID-19 vaccine) that would violate their religious beliefs,” which violates SEALs’ rights under RFRA to the free exercise of religion.
These SEALs involved in the lawsuit are claiming that their religious beliefs against abortion do not allow them to receive medications “tested or produced using aborted fetal cell lines.” They also believe that the “human body is God’s temple,” and as such, they carefully monitor everything that they take into their bodies and are “compelled to avoid anything that adversely alters or may modify their bodies’ natural functions in a manner not designed by God.”
They object to getting the vaccine because the shot uses mRNA technology, which produces a spike in protein within human cells that would not normally be produced.
DOD spokesperson Lt. Cdr. Patricia Kreuzberger previously said that while she could not comment on matters affecting the SEALs, service members are entitled to seek religious exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccination mandate.
“Mandatory vaccination for our service members is a lawful order that maximizes our operational effectiveness,” she said. “To be worldwide deployable, Naval personnel must be medically qualified, which includes being up-to-date on required vaccinations. Servicemembers are entitled to seek religious exemptions, and those requests will be considered in keeping with current Navy policy.”
It remains to be seen how this lawsuit will play out.