Lawyers for the troops say the military is violating the U.S. Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and are urging courts to intervene.
“It’s now the point where I think we can call it what it is. It appears to be blatant religious discrimination when the military has now conceded, both publicly and in court filings I should say, that they have approved multiple numerous medical and administrative exemptions but yet they have refused to approve any religious accommodations,” Mike Berry, an attorney with First Liberty Institute, told The Epoch Times.
“That’s the textbook definition of religious discrimination,” he added.
On the other hand, the military has granted 12,109 medical or administrative exemptions.
Troops trying to get religious exemptions say they’ve been told it’s pointless to apply. Some have hired lawyers and sued the federal government.
First Liberty Institute brought a suit last month on behalf of dozens of Navy personnel, alleging the Biden administration has violated federal law in its refusal to grant exemptions to troops on the basis of their religion. Another lawsuit was filed by Liberty Counsel on similar grounds.
None have succeeded to date.
THERE IS HOPE
U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday, a George W. Bush nominee, while not issuing a preliminary injunction, wrote in an order last month that denial of religious exemption requests “will result inevitably in the undifferentiated (and therefore unlawful under RFRA) denial of each service member’s request,” based on current data, according to NTD.
Merryday ordered the Pentagon to provide the court with details on religious exemption requests beginning on Jan. 7, 2022. He also indicated he may issue an injunction at a later time.