Military chaplains ordered to root out 'ruse' of religious exemptions

Military chaplains ordered to root out 'ruse' of religious exemptions

Military chaplains ordered to root out 'ruse' of religious exemptions

A former U.S. Navy chaplain says it is sad to witness military chaplains being ordered to grill service members about their faith in an obvious attempt to force those holdouts to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Military Times reported in mid-September that 90% of active-duty personnel are fully vaccinated, a number that is likely jumped since then, but many of the holdouts have submitted a health waiver and others are seeking a religious exemption.

The shrinking number of holdouts is presumably undergoing tremendous pressure from their commanders to cave and give in to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s order in August to get the shot. Deadlines are coming in November and December for most active-duty personnel.

Meanwhile, The Epoch Times reported in a Sept. 23 story it obtained a copy of a U.S. Coast Guard memo that directs chaplains to grill holdouts who are seeking a religious exemption to. Chaplains are told to ask the holdout to “describe how they consistently keep the tenets of their faith and demonstrate those in their daily life.”

The memo also directs chaplains to document if a service member raises a religious objection after first stating other objections, and to be aware if the service member is using the religious waiver "as a ruse to avoid the vaccine." 

“It's not the chaplain's job to grill with a questionnaire,” says Gordon Klingenschmitt, a former Navy chaplain. “It's simply to ascertain the sincerity.”

Regarding the use a religious exemption, however, Klingenschmitt tells American Family News not every holdout in uniform can expect to use that waiver to escape the jab.

“If your waiver request is not based on a sincerely held religious belief, but it's based on politics or medicine, expect to lose,” he advises. “You will get overruled. They will order you to take the vaccine.”

The Epoch Times story quotes a First Liberty Institute attorney, Mike Berry, who said the law firm has heard from as many as 300 service members. The “vast majority” of them, Berry told the Times, have said they experienced “significant hostility” from commanders after informing them they are seeking a religious exemption.

Klingenschmitt, Gordon (former Navy chaplain) Klingenschmitt

Those holdouts have also been warned their waiver will not approved and the next step is to the “processed for separation or court-martialed," Berry told the Times.

At least some members of the U.S. armed forces will presumably quit rather than be forced to get the controversial vaccine, and that reality was recognized by an amendment in Congress that would allow those service members to step down with an honorable discharge. The amendment was attached to the National Defense Authorization Act. 

The lead author of the amendment is Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.), who told the Times that Democrats approved the amendment on the House Armed Services Committee.

The amendment is opposed by the Biden administration, however, which claims it harms military readiness. 

"Everyone needs to hold Congress to take a stand," Klingenschmitt says of the NDAA amendment, "and make sure that language remains."