Dozens of U.S. Navy SEALs and Special Warfare Command crewmen are taking legal action against the Biden administration and the Defense Department for their refusal to grant religious exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
Attorneys with First Liberty Institute filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of 35 service members on Tuesday.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced in August that all U.S. troops will be required to get the COVID vaccine—a move that is supported by President Joe Biden.
"The fact that the government has not granted a single religious exemption from the vaccine mandate shows that the Biden administration is engaged in an attempted ideological purge," said Mike Berry, general counsel for First Liberty Institute. "Forcing a service member to choose between their faith and serving their country is abhorrent to the Constitution and America's values."
Berry continued, "After all these elite warriors have done to defend our freedoms, the Navy is now threatening their careers, families and finances. It's appalling, and it has to stop before any more harm is done to our national security."
When one SEAL informed his superiors that he planned to seek a religious exemption from the vaccine, his commanding officer told him that he would have to surrender his Special Warfare pin.
And a new directive issued by the Navy states that if a SEAL declines the vaccine, the military could attempt to recover money that the government has spent on his training.
First Liberty points out that SEALs dedicate years of their lives in training to become the most elite fighting force. Yet the Navy is willing to oust them or force them to repay the cost of their training simply for refusing a vaccine.
The lawsuit outlines that multiple plaintiffs have religious objections to getting immunized against COVID-19 because "the vaccines were developed, tested or produced using aborted fetal cell lines." Those refusing to receive the vaccine "hold the sincere religious belief that all life is sacred, from conception to natural death, and that abortion is the impermissible taking of an innocent life in the womb."
In addition, many of the SEALs have already contracted and recovered from COVID-19, while some have had antibodies tests showing that they acquired natural immunity.
Berry urges all service members to "stay firm, stay strong in your faith. Continue to exercise your rights and hopefully our lawsuit will be successful."
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