A coalition of Navy SEALs and other highly trained fighters are suing the Biden administration over its COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
The suit comes after the Department of Defense refused to grant the service members exemptions from the vaccine, according to KCYU-TV.
“The fact that the government has not granted a single religious exemption from the vaccine mandate shows that the Biden Administration does not care about religious freedom,” Mike Berry, general counsel for First Liberty Institute, said in a news release.
“Instead, this appears to be an attempted ideological purge. Forcing a service member to choose between their faith and serving their country is abhorrent to the Constitution and America’s values.”
“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,” he said.
The suit alleges that the Defense Department is violating the First Amendment, federal law and department regulations.
The group bringing the complaint is composed of 26 Navy SEALs, five Navy special warfare combatant craft crewmen, one Navy explosive ordnance disposal technician and three Navy divers.
The lawsuit says the plaintiffs are “members of various denominations within the Christian faith, and, collectively, they represent three main branches of Christianity: Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant.”
“Plaintiffs each object to receiving a COVID-19 vaccination based on their sincerely held religious beliefs.”
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Some of the service members take issue with the use of stem cells in the development of the vaccine.
“Plaintiffs believe that receiving a COVID-19 vaccine that was tested, developed, or produced using aborted fetal cell lines would force them to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs by causing them to participate in the abortion enterprise, which they believe to be immoral and highly offensive to God,” the lawsuit says.
“Multiple Plaintiffs 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.
“As a result of their sincerely held religious beliefs regarding life and abortion, multiple Plaintiffs are unable to receive any of the COVID-19 vaccines due to what they believe and understand is a connection between these vaccines and their testing, development, or production using aborted fetal cell lines.”
Other plaintiffs “are compelled to avoid anything that adversely alters or may modify their bodies’ natural functions in a manner not designed by God.”
“Plaintiffs do not believe that staying true to their faith means exposing themselves or others to unnecessary risk. Quite the contrary, they view life — whether their own or that of their fellow Service Members — as sacred and deserving protection.
“Therefore, Plaintiffs do not object to safety measures like mask-wearing, physical distancing, regular testing, sick leave, and teleworking. Indeed, Defendants have employed such measures during the prior eleven months, when COVID-19 vaccines have been widely available.”
The suit notes that members of the Navy who are not vaccinated by Nov. 28 could face “immediate adverse consequences,” including court-martial prosecution, “removal from promotion lists, inability to attend certain military training and education schools, loss of special pay, placement in a non-deployable status … and loss of leave and travel privileges for both official and unofficial purposes.”
The lawsuit says the military has been hostile to those requesting religious exemptions.
“When at least one Plaintiff told his command that he would be requesting a religious accommodation, he was ordered to remove his special warfare device pin from his uniform. Other Plaintiffs have been threatened with the same adverse treatment,” the complaint alleges.
“The Vaccine Mandate substantially burdens the SEALs’ free exercise of religion, and the Department of Defense has failed to prove it has a compelling government interest, or that there are no less restrictive ways to further its effort to mitigate the Covid-19 virus,” FLI said.