A federal judge has granted a temporary injunction to a group of Navy Seals seeking religious exemption from the Biden administration's vaccine mandate.
US District Judge Reed O'Connor said, "There is no COVID-19 exception to the First Amendment. There is no military exclusion from our Constitution."
A group of Navy Seals and specialists have sued the Biden administration in order to obtain a religious exemption to the COVID-19 vaccination mandate.
The long list of plaintiffs include 26 Navy SEALs, five special warfare combatant craft crewmen, three Navy divers, and an explosive ordnance disposal technician, The Washington Examiner reported. President Joe Biden, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, the Department of Defense, and Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro were named as the defendants in the suit filed November in federal court.
Each of the SEALs or sailors are either Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Protestant, whose "sincerely held religious beliefs forbid each of them from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine for a variety of reasons based upon their Christian faith as revealed through the Holy Bible and prayerful discernment," according to the suit.
"Plaintiffs believe that receiving a COVID-19 vaccine that was tested, developed, or produced using aborted fetal cell lines would force them to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs by causing them to participate in the abortion enterprise, which they believe to be immoral and highly offensive to God," it states.
Lead counsel Mike Berry, who is representing the SEALs, told The Washington Examiner that the suit isn't seeking to overturn the vaccination mandate. Rather, the plaintiffs are wanting the military to approve religious exemptions.
Dozens of Republican lawmakers filed a brief to support the Navy SEALs and sailors who have sued the Defense Department over the coronavirus restrictions.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is among the 47 GOP backers who signed the brief mid-December. "Plaintiffs' religious liberty and the government's asserted interest in protecting our service members from COVID-19 need not be in conflict, especially where, as here, the individuals seeking an exemption are willing to adopt non-vaccination measures to protect themselves and others from the spread of COVID-19," the amicus brief reads. "They are only in conflict here because Defendants refuse to accommodate Plaintiffs' religious objections even as they accommodate those who will not receive the vaccine for non-religious reasons."
The America First Policy Institute (AFPI), a Trump-backed policy group comprised of many former administration officials, had also filed an amicus brief in the US District Court Northern District of Texas supporting the US service members.
"Forcing religious servicemembers to either violate their conscience or be negatively discharged undermines U.S. national security by directly causing an immediate, significant loss of American military strength for an order that illegally and unnecessarily undermines military readiness," the AFPI's amicus brief reads. "A ruling against Plaintiffs will result in long-term devastating effects on the morale, recruitment, and retention of our all-volunteer force."
AFPI's brief declared the vaccine mandate "both illegal and adverse to military readiness and will have grave consequences to American national security."
This story is breaking and will be updated.
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