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Devoutness Against Vaccines

Photo by Master Sgt. Christine Wood, 109th Air Wing/Public Affairs

As was widely reported Monday, the Department of Defense announced via a memo from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin that all service members will be required to get vaccinated against COVID no later than mid-September, or immediately upon full approval by the FDA, whichever comes first. The Pfizer vaccine is expected to receive full FDA approval in early September.

The COVID vaccine now joins the list of many vaccines that service members are already required to get, and service members have been getting all these other vaccinations for decades without putting up a fuss. But the COVID vaccine … well, that’s a different matter.

Not surprisingly, the disinformation and politicization surrounding the COVID vaccines are leading numerous service members looking for a way out of getting the life-saving jab. 

Not surprisingly, the disinformation and politicization surrounding the COVID vaccines are leading numerous service members looking for a way out of getting the life-saving jab. 

Also not surprisingly is that one of the vaccine-evading tactics that many anti-vaxxer service members are attempting to use is claiming that they object to the vaccines on religious grounds. This has led numerous service members, after searching the web for organizations that protect religious freedom in the military, to contact the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF). The phone calls and emails started coming in even before it was officially announced that the military would be requiring the vaccinations.

While it is true that a service member who is genuinely religiously opposed to vaccines can apply for a religious accommodation to be exempt from vaccinations, even that can be revoked when, as Army regulations state, “Religious exemptions may be revoked in the case of an imminent risk of exposure to a disease for which an immunization is available.”

But the service members contacting MRFF aren’t genuinely religiously opposed to vaccines. If they were they would already know about religious accommodation requests because they would have previously submitted them to be exempted from the many other required vaccinations. Their only devotion is to disinformation and “owning the libs” by refusing the vaccine.

As can be imagined, some of the emails and phone calls being received by MRFF are beyond ridiculous in their convoluted attempts to make this a religious freedom issue.

In one call received by MRFF founder and president Mikey Weinstein Monday, the service member “religiously” objected to getting the vaccine because he was told by his chain that the vaccines contained pig products and therefore Jews and Muslims wouldn’t have to get it, so “why do us Christians?” He said he had a “First Amendment religious right not to let the government put this filthy animal shit into his body.” Sorry, soldier. Even if the vaccines did contain pig products (which none of the vaccines used in the U.S. do), and even if that made Jews and Muslims, who have a genuine religious objection to pork products, exempt, YOU JUST SAID YOU ARE A CHRISTIAN! YOU HAVE NO RELIGIOUS ARGUMENT!

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The other widely circulating piece of disinformation being used by politically motivated fundamentalist Christians is that the COVID vaccines permanently alter the perfect DNA that God endowed you with. This is also not true, and therefore not grounds for a religious exemption.

MRFF will no doubt get many more phone calls and emails in the coming month from other service members trying to evade the vaccine on specious religious grounds, and unless the service member really does belong to a religion that sincerely objects to vaccinations – ALL vaccinations, not just the COVID ones – our response will be: Sorry, Soldier, we’re not buying your sudden religious devoutness against getting vaccinated.

MRFF’s position, as expressed in the following official statement, is that we fully support the Department of Defense requiring that service members get vaccinated.

“The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) fully supports Department of Defense (DoD) Secretary Lloyd Austin’s critical mandate that ALL members of the United States Armed Forces WILL BE REQUIRED to receive COVID-19 vaccinations not later than mid-September.

MRFF has been receiving a flood of requests from potential military clients to intercede on their behalves, allegedly based on Constitutional First Amendment ‘religious objection’ reasons, to stop the military from mandating these COVID-19 vaccinations.

While MRFF will examine each request on a case-by-case basis, we fully expect to reject the vast majority of them claiming these specious ‘religious’ exemptions.

Why so, you might ask?

One of the key reasons is that our United States Supreme Court, in the watershed 1974 case of Parker vs. Levy (417 U.S. 733), made it crystal clear that the compelling American governmental interest in all First Amendment cases involving the military is to maximize the good order, morale, unit cohesion, discipline, mission accomplishment, and health and safety of the troops.

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Ordering our American sailors, soldiers, Marines, airmen, guardians and Coast Guardsmen (note that the U.S. Coast Guard is part of the Department of Homeland Security and not DoD) to get this vaccination is not only fully supported by all universal sources of credible, medical science but by the U.S. Supreme Court as well!

Thus, MRFF totally backs the DoD’s ordering that ALL of our U.S. service members become inoculated against the well established ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic and its inimical variants just as soon as possible."

Chris Rodda
Military Religious Freedom Foundation