The U.S. military acted too hastily in denying religious exemptions to service members who objected to taking the COVID-19 shots, according to a Department of Defense watchdog.
In a memo dated June 2, Pentagon Inspector General Sean O’Donnell acknowledged a “concerning” trend in the number of requested religious exemptions and the subsequent mass denials, reported Military.com.
Listen to the latest episode of CBN’s Quick Start podcast 👇
“We found a trend of generalized assessments rather than the individualized assessment that is required by federal law and DoD and military service policies,” he wrote in the memo to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. “Some of the appellate decisions included documentation that demonstrated a greater consideration of facts and circumstances involved in a request.”
Austin issued a mandate for all service members to receive the COVID-19 shots beginning Aug. 24, 2021, one day after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted full approval to the two-dose Pfizer/BioNTech regimen. His order meant men and women in uniform were mandated to take the shots or be discharged from service.
According to the watchdog’s findings, military officials spent just minutes reviewing exemptions requests, the vast majority of which were ultimately denied or have yet to be processed.
“The volume and rate at which decisions were made to deny requests is concerning,” wrote O’Donnell. “Assuming a 10-hour work day with no breaks or attention to other matters, the average review period was about 12 minutes for each package. Such a review period seems insufficient to process each request in an individualized manner and still perform the duties required of their position.”
For example, in the Army, the largest branch of the U.S. military, service members submitted 8,514 religious exemption requests. Of those, 1,602 were rejected, while only 24 were approved. The remainder were still pending as of Aug. 12 of this year.
The inspector general found roughly 50 denials per day in a 90-day period across all military branches.
Legal challenges against the U.S. military over its vaccination policy have been plentiful. In mid-September, the Marine Corps ordered a pause on administrative action against unvaccinated Marines. That action came after a federal judge in Florida blocked the branch in late August from discharging those who applied for religious exemptions, as CBN News reported.
One service member, Lt. Col. Scott Duncan, appeared on Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s show in January of this year explaining why he sought — and was denied — a religious exemption for the COVID-19 shots.
“We do not have any peace about the vaccine itself,” he said. “We also believe we have an inherent right to our own body. We believe that is a right that is conferred on us by a maker and creator and that is the foundation of the Constitution, which we defend.”
***As the number of voices facing big-tech censorship continues to grow, please sign up for Faithwire’s daily newsletter and download the CBN News app, developed by our parent company, to stay up-to-date with the latest news from a distinctly Christian perspective.***