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By Tony Perkins

Just how anti-freedom is the Biden administration? Even a military chaplain can’t get a religious exemption! In an astonishing story, a Navy reservist complained to Fox News that his vaccine accommodation was denied — even though he had his two commanders’ approval. “That they’re getting away with it just absolutely astounds me,” the chaplain said on the condition of anonymity. “It’s a kick in the gut for sure.”

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Unfortunately, there have been a lot of “kicks in the gut” to our service members lately. Just Wednesday, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth announced that it was time to start discharging soldiers who haven’t gotten the vaccine — jeopardizing the careers of more than 3,300 service members who’ve refused the shots. “Army readiness depends on soldiers who are prepared to train, deploy, fight and win our nation’s wars,” she said. “Unvaccinated soldiers present a risk to the force and jeopardize readiness. We will begin involuntary separation proceedings for soldiers who refuse the vaccine order and are not pending a final decision on an exemption.”

Of course, as we all know now, the pending exemption racket is a sham. In the Army alone, 3,000 men and women have requested accommodations. Zero have been granted. Only three Marines have been lucky enough to see their exemptions through. (Given the odds they were up against, they should try their luck with Powerball.) The Navy chaplain, who stands to lose his 20 years of retirement benefits over the dispute, said, “I would have thought that if you grant one, you have to grant everyone — or else they are picking and choosing which religion is valid and whose constitutional rights under the First Amendment will be honored and whose will not. It’s offensive to me as someone who loves the Constitution.”

When he overcame the first two hurdles — his commander’s approval and that commander’s boss’s approval — the chaplain was optimistic. “I think the commanders on the ground, many of them, see this for what it is. But [their] hands are tied, and we have a lot of yes men at the top. It’s really bad.” When his rejection letter came through from Vice Admiral John Nowell, it looked identical to everyone else’s he’s seen. “You can hold each of these up to the light, and they look exactly like everyone else’s,” he pointed out.

Meanwhile, even the service members who’ve won some legal relief — for now — are still experiencing harassment at the hands of their supervisors. A month after a federal court granted more than 30 Navy SEALs an injunction from the vaccine mandate, leadership has “continued to subject our clients to restrictions on the basis of their… religious accommodation [request],” First Liberty Institute’s Justin Butterfield explained. “We’ve had one client who needed medical treatment, and he was told he could not travel to get that medical treatment because of his request for religious accommodation. We had another client who’s been told that he cannot leave his base even to get groceries or gasoline without permission because he requested a religious accommodation to the vaccine. So, these are egregious things.”

The SEAL — who needed medical treatment for a traumatic brain injury — even offered to arrange and pay for the travel himself and was still denied, all because he asked for permission to follow his religious convictions. Others in the group have been sidelined from deployment or assigned menial tasks, instead of the elite warfighting they’ve been trained for. Butterfield says that’s triggered another round of legal action. “Unfortunately, we have to go back to court… and [ask]… ‘Why are you not abiding by the order [of the court]? We’ll see what the Navy says. But it’s unfortunate that they’re continuing to put Navy SEALs, who’ve given so much to this country, through the wringer…”

The message is simple: the Biden Pentagon doesn’t care about the religious freedom of their men and women in uniform. “It’s unfortunate that they’re more concerned with 100 percent vaccine compliance than they are with 100 percent Constitution compliance,” Butterfield lamented. That has to change. If it doesn’t, this president will have to answer to the people — and the courts.

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