(RNS) — More than 1,700 religious leaders organized by former President Donald Trump’s faith advisers are urging the U.S. military to grant religious exemptions to COVID-19 vaccine mandates, alleging service members with spiritual objections to the inoculations are being “stripped of their religious liberties.”
But while the effort singled out COVID-19 vaccine mandates first initiated by President Joe Biden, it did not grapple with similar military mandates that predated the ongoing pandemic. It also lacked support from at least one of Trump’s longtime faith advisers — a hint at possible divisions among the former president’s evangelical allies regarding COVID-19.
In a letter sent to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Nov. 15, the group of faith leaders insisted military brass grant exemptions to COVID-19 vaccines before looming deadlines. Active-duty Navy and Marine Corps members must get the shots by Sunday (Nov. 28), while the Army has until Dec. 15. The Air Force deadline already elapsed on Nov. 2.
“We should be rewarding their bravery and the bravery of all our men and women in uniform, by not forcing them to choose between sincere religious convictions and staying in the military,” the letter read in part.
“We urge you to grant religious exemptions as soon as possible for every American risking their lives to defend our country. Religious freedom is enshrined in our Constitution and must always be protected.”
Source : ReligionNews