A current Division of Protection (DoD) memorandum to U.S. Coast Guard chaplains contains a number of extremely invasive questions in regards to the sincerity of the religion and follow of Guardsmen in search of spiritual exemptions from the army department’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement.
“Have the member describe how they constantly maintain the tenets of their religion and display these of their every day life. Ask them to be as particular as potential,” the memo directs the chaplains to ask of exemption-seekers.
“Put the specifics acts (or lack thereof) within the memo.”
The referenced memo is a file that the chaplains are required to create of their interviews with requesters. A replica of the questions part of the memo was made obtainable to The Epoch Occasions, which verified that it’s a Division of Protection product authored by “Lee, Amanda M CDR.”
A civil liberties lawyer instructed The Epoch Occasions such questions aren’t authorized.
“Nearly not one of the questions in that memo are acceptable, though some are actually extra inflammatory and offensive than others. The one obligation the service member has is to determine that they’ve a sincerely held spiritual perception that’s being considerably burdened by the federal government,” First Liberty Institute Normal Counsel Mike Berry instructed The Epoch Occasions on Sept. 23.
“As soon as they present that, the burden shifts totally to the federal government. The federal government has no authority and no authentic foundation to ask the types of questions which are within the memo, and it demonstrates overt hostility to non secular beliefs.”
The Plano, Texas-based First Liberty Institute makes a speciality of First Modification and spiritual liberty litigation.
The memo additionally warns the chaplains to be cautious of Guardsmen who could also be abusing the exemption course of.
“It is very important present context within the memo discussing the member’s perception. If they arrive to the assembly and start by discussing issues about security, politics, and many others., notice that within the memo,” the DoD memo reads.
“Even when the member finally states that it’s a perception primarily based on faith, notice their first expression and the way they moved from non-religious beliefs to non secular ones. Notice any feedback made by the member that make it seem they’re utilizing the spiritual exemption as a ruse to keep away from the vaccine.”
The DoD memo additionally features a sequence of inquiries to be requested of Guardsmen who specific issues about the usage of cells from the tissue of aborted infants within the growth of the three vaccines presently authorised by the FDA on an experimental foundation to fight COVID-19.
Secretary of Protection Lloyd Austin, performing on orders from President Joe Biden, announced in August that each one members of the U.S. army should obtain the vaccine. Those that refuse the vaccine and aren’t given a spiritual or medical exemption are topic to self-discipline, not excluding discharge.
The Biden administration said on Sept. 22 that it opposes an modification within the Home model of the Nationwide Protection Authorization Act (NDAA) that specifies army members who refuse the vaccine can solely obtain an honorable discharge.
The honorable discharge provision “would detract from readiness and restrict a commander’s choices for imposing good order and self-discipline when a Service member fails to obey a lawful order to obtain a vaccination,” the White Home Workplace of Administration and Price range (OMB) stated in an announcement.
The U.S. army “will need to have the power to offer orders and take acceptable disciplinary measures” with a view to have “a uniformed drive to battle with self-discipline,” the OMB assertion reads.
Rep. Mark Inexperienced (R-Tenn.), a medical physician and army veteran, was the principal creator of the honorable discharge modification.
“This was a bipartisan modification—not one Democrat on the Home Armed Companies Committee opposed it,” Inexperienced instructed The Epoch Occasions. “Nothing is extra telling of the present political local weather than the Biden administration refusing to respect the rights of our army that each Home Democrat on the Committee voted for.”
Berry stated his group has been flooded with requests from members of the army who’ve reservations in regards to the vaccine and who’ve reported experiencing a hostile work surroundings after making their issues recognized to commanders.
“I’d estimate we’ve been contacted by someplace between 200 and 300 service members from throughout the branches, of various ranks and obligation assignments, and the overwhelming majority report experiencing vital hostility as soon as they inform their instructions they are going to be in search of a spiritual exemption from the vaccine,” he stated.
“Many report back to me that their instructions have been very coercive and have advised issues equivalent to ‘you may submit a spiritual exemption request, however the Military/Navy/Air Pressure/Marine Corps will not be going to approve it, after which you can be processed for separation or court-martialed.’
“Others inform me that they’ve skilled various levels of opposed motion as a direct results of their spiritual exemption requests. These opposed actions embrace issues equivalent to aviators being faraway from flight standing and being threatened with removing from command. All of those actions are illegal.”
Austin “has made it clear that he expects the companies to maneuver as energetically as they’ll on vaccinating our service members as a result of he’s involved in regards to the rise in deaths and the affect that the Delta variant has had on the drive,” Maj. Charlie Dietz, a DoD spokesman, instructed The Epoch Occasions on Sept. 23.
“Ought to a service member request a waiver, whether or not or not it’s administrative or medical, the member needs to be handled with care and compassion,” Dietz stated. “A key portion of the method is guaranteeing our members have entry to data and sources in regards to the vaccine, together with talking with their physician about it. If their physician believes that it’s within the service member’s finest pursuits to not get the vaccine, they’ll write an exemption for them and file it inside their medical information.
“With greater than 91 % of energetic obligation service members having already been given one shot, we’re totally assured that the quantity will proceed to extend and are totally conscious that the variety of exemptions will almost definitely improve.”