Tuesday Afternoon, August 10, 2021

The Department of Defense announced yesterday, August 9,
that all service members will be required to get vaccinated
against COVID no later than mid-September.

Not surprisingly, MRFF has been inundated with phone calls
and emails from service members attempting to enlist our
help in deploying their specious, convoluted, and outright
ridiculous religious arguments to evade getting vaccinated.
Medical worker service member filling syringe to vaccinate a soldier
Photo by Master Sgt. Christine Wood, 109th Air Wing/Public Affairs.
(The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense visual information
does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.)

#1 Trending story on Daily Kos

Sorry, Soldier, MRFF Isn’t Buying Your Sudden Religious Devoutness Against Vaccines

By: MRFF Senior Research Director Chris Rodda

Tuesday, August 10, 2021
Chris Rodda
As was widely reported yesterday, the Department of Defense announced via a memo from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin that all service members will be required to get vaccinated against COVID no later than mid-September, or immediately upon full approval by the FDA, whichever comes first. The Pfizer vaccine is expected to receive full FDA approval in early September.

The COVID vaccine now joins the list of many vaccines that service members are already required to get, and service members have been getting all these other vaccinations for decades without putting up a fuss. But the COVID vaccine … well, that’s a different matter.

Not surprisingly, the disinformation and politicization surrounding the COVID vaccines are leading numerous service members looking for a way out of getting the life-saving jab. 

Also not surprisingly is that one of the vaccine-evading tactics that many anti-vaxxer service members are attempting to use is claiming that they object to the vaccines on religious grounds. This has led numerous service members, after searching the web for organizations that protect religious freedom in the military, to contact the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF). The phone calls and emails started coming in even before it was officially announced that the military would be requiring the vaccinations.

While it is true that a service member who is genuinely religiously opposed to vaccines can apply for a religious accommodation to be exempt from vaccinations, even that can be revoked when, as Army regulations state, “Religious exemptions may be revoked in the case of an imminent risk of exposure to a disease for which an immunization is available.”

But the service members contacting MRFF aren’t genuinely religiously opposed to vaccines. If they were they would already know about religious accommodation requests because they would have previously submitted them to be exempted from the many other required vaccinations. Their only devotion is to disinformation and “owning the libs” by refusing the vaccine.

As can be imagined, some of the emails and phone calls being received by MRFF are beyond ridiculous in their convoluted attempts to make this a religious freedom issue.

In one call received by MRFF founder and president Mikey Weinstein yesterday, the service member “religiously” objected to getting the vaccine because he was told by his chain that the vaccines contained pig products and therefore Jews and Muslims wouldn’t have to get it, so “why do us Christians?” He said he had a “First Amendment religious right not to let the government put this filthy animal shit into his body.” Sorry, soldier. Even if the vaccines did contain pig products (which none of the vaccines used in the U.S. do), and even if that made Jews and Muslims, who have a genuine religious objection to pork products, exempt, YOU JUST SAID YOU ARE A CHRISTIAN! YOU HAVE NO RELIGIOUS ARGUMENT!

The other widely circulating piece of disinformation being used by politically motivated fundamentalist Christians is that the COVID vaccines permanently alter the perfect DNA that God endowed you with. This is also not true, and therefore not grounds for a religious exemption.

MRFF will no doubt get many more phone calls and emails in the coming month from other service members trying to evade the vaccine on specious religious grounds, and unless the service member really does belong to a religion that sincerely objects to vaccinations – ALL vaccinations, not just the COVID ones – our response will be: Sorry, Soldier, we’re not buying your sudden religious devoutness against getting vaccinated.

MRFF Founder and President Mikey Weinstein's
statement on the Department of Defense mandating COVID vaccinations for all service members
Mikey Weinstein
“The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) fully supports Department of Defense (DoD) Secretary Lloyd Austin’s critical mandate that ALL members of the United States Armed Forces WILL BE REQUIRED to receive COVID-19 vaccinations not later than mid-September.

MRFF has been receiving a flood of requests from potential military clients to intercede on their behalves, allegedly based on Constitutional First Amendment ‘religious objection’ reasons, to stop the military from mandating these COVID-19 vaccinations.

While MRFF will examine each request on a case-by-case basis, we fully expect to reject the vast majority of them claiming these specious ‘religious’ exemptions.

Why so, you might ask?

One of the key reasons is that our United States Supreme Court, in the watershed 1974 case of Parker vs. Levy (417 U.S. 733), made it crystal clear that the compelling American governmental interest in all First Amendment cases involving the military is to maximize the good order, morale, unit cohesion, discipline, mission accomplishment, and health and safety of the troops.

Ordering our American sailors, soldiers, Marines, airmen, guardians and Coast Guardsmen (note that the U.S. Coast Guard is part of the Department of Homeland Security and not DoD) to get this vaccination is not only fully supported by all universal sources of credible, medical science but by the U.S. Supreme Court as well!

Thus, MRFF totally backs the DoD’s ordering that ALL of our U.S. service members become inoculated against the well established ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic and its inimical variants just as soon as possible."
MRFF's Inbox
"In Support of a Downtrodden Music Director"

Dear Mikey,

It was good to speak with you, and my statement is below. I would prefer to remain anonymous on the website. You may edit as necessary, as long as you don’t change the essence, and you may include the disclaimer if you see fit. Also, please feel free to share my contact information with Mai, if she needs a sympathetic ear.

Disclaimer – I have never served in the military, but I support members of the armed services, many of whom I have taught. I also am a mainline Protestant (Episcopalian), not a Catholic; Some years ago, I retired from serving part-time as a church musician (for half my life at the time).

I have sung, directed choirs, and played the organ in eight different denominations, including three and one-half years in a large Catholic church. (I also have counted several Catholic priests among my friends.) Church musicians are usually underpaid and often forfeit expectations and benefits common in other jobs, but they do it out of love for their profession. Nevertheless, they do deserve adequate compensation for their service, and I believe it is absolutely wrong to have services displaced, finances controlled, resources cut, and one’s own faithful’s contributions misdirected by an advocate of another religious group in order to subsidize that group. 

Moreover, as one familiar with Catholic liturgy and calendar, I would guess that the improper contract and work statement revision without consideration of Catholic liturgical requirements involves (among other things) elimination of pay for Holy Days of Obligation. Not only are these required by the Church, but in my experience, they are well-attended, and, in fact, some of them are observed, if not required, by many mainstream Protestant denominations. These days’ services are indispensable parts of Catholic religious observance.

I’m also guessing that much of the problem does not arise from adherents of mainstream traditional denominations, but rather from a few evangelical fundamentalist sects, including the many so called “non-denominational Christians,” who cultivate ignorance of Christian history and theological development, and invent their beliefs from a few selected passages. In recent years, whatever they call themselves, some groups like this have become more openly disdainful of mainstream denominations of all stripes, as well as Catholics. I find these groups very aggravating, not to mention threatening.

I certainly hope that this case can be appropriately resolved, and the manipulation, misdirection of funds, and apparent prejudice stopped, if necessary, by carrying the matter through Archbishop Broglio to the Secretary of the Air Force, the Secretary of Defense, or even President Biden. In my opinion, this kind of flagrant prejudice, discrimination and financial redirection is unconstitutional malfeasance that needs to be stopped by whomever has the authority. In the meantime, I wish Mai the best and send, if nothing else, moral support. MRFF has much experience combatting this kind of prejudice and favoritism in the command structure. I very much support your work and wish you success is combatting this egregious abuse.

All the best,

(name withheld)

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