Service members across the force who have submitted religious exemption requests in accordance with the process outlined in governing regulations have faced additional hurdles and steps. This additional line of questioning and measures being taken by many commands and chaplains violates constitutional protections, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S. Code § 2000e–2, Supreme Court decisions on religious beliefs, and the Military’s Equal Opportunity Policy.
AR 600-20 is clear in the process for religious exemptions for immunization purposes:
Now let’s take a look at the guidance pushed out from the FORSCOM chaplain on SMs seeking religious exemption due to faith based concerns:
“Hey kid, some guy somewhere who calls himself a Catholic or a Christian said he is totes okay with aborted babies as long as it’s for science and health…so too bad so sad sucker, you can’t possibly be sincere about your own personal faith.” Checkmate bigots they got you up against the ropes now…just line up and get your jab. But wait, there’s more! Here is the questionnaire circulating many unit chaplains that SMs have to fill out before meeting with the chaplain for their scheduled religious exemption meeting:
At no point in AR 600-20 does it mention a misleading religious purity questionnaire. You just have to talk to the chaps about your personal faith/belief to ensure you aren’t submitting a request under this provision of the Army regulation erroneously (not having any personal faith based conflicting concerns with an aspect of a vaccine). Before we get into the absolutely illegal nature of the FORSCOM guidance and the questionnaire, lets break down the arguments on each one of these things.
Question 1 Part 1) The presence of a SMs faith on an official military record has no bearing on the sincerity of their faith, nor is it a precursor requirement for a religious exemption request.
Part 2) You do not have to have an official religion or belong to a recognized religious group to have a sincerely held religious or faith based belief (see below for SCOTUS decisions, U.S. Code, and law). By entering this information, that helps them to categorize you into a mass faith group so that they can then use the shill FORSCOM guidance on you to lessen your position or “sincerity”.
Part 3) This question is intentionally setting SMs up for the next question to guilt a person about their faith belief and to try and trip up SMs who may not have a Master’s degree in theology.
Part 4) This question has zero bearing on the point of the required meeting, which is to determine if a SM has a sincerely held faith/religious based belief. Discussing the individual morality of a “well what if-“ scenario is ridiculous, not the purpose of the meeting, and serves no purpose other than to attempt to shame/pressure/guilt a person into changing their mind. After all, the chaplain supposedly is a religious authority; if PVT Schmuckatelli is told by the chaps that “a vaccine could save another unfortunate person’s life, wouldn’t that be good PVT? You do want to do good, don’t you? Your faith would probably want you to do what is materially good.” What do you think is going to be the outcome of that line of questioning?
Question 2 – All parts) None of these questions have anything to do with whether or not a SM has a sincerely held faith/religious belief in accordance with the regulation. The questions are nothing more than a means of entrapping the SM into contradicting themselves and making it appear that they are not sincere. After all if you answered one question one way, then seemed to waiver or answer another question a different way; that would be solid evidence for the vax goalkeeping chaps to recommend disapproval. Before moving on to question 3, let’s look at part 3 of question 2. “Why is this vaccine a concern when others are not?” This is every leftist’s favorite line. “Well you got shots at one point in your life, you didn’t have a problem with it then!” or “You got all sorts of shots at basic and you didn’t say shit!” Oh yes, since telling people you don’t want X, Y, or Z would have gone over well at basic. This argument predicates that a SM would have to have faith their entire lives to have grounds for now opposing this vaccine. That’s not how faith or religious beliefs work and is coming from a position of ultimate spiritual ignorance (remember the same people rubbing your faith in your face trying to have that “gotcha” moment are often times the same ones who openly mock and hate you for having faith). Like this Army Major:
You can absolutely enter the military with zero faith and then develop faith. You can also be uneducated about the development and testing of products and vaccines as an 18 year old who had faith at the time, and then now discovering the truth about it have a faith based issue with a vaccine or any product. The notion that at one point you did one thing that should have violated the tenants of your faith and therefore now cannot possibly have a faith based issue with something is ridiculous. The 22 year old 1LT loudmouth at the pentagon or 25 year old CPT SJW complaining at the top of their lungs on twitter or even your Army chaplain who bought into the illegal guidance pushed down are not the sole arbiters of judgement and sin. That’s not how faith or religious beliefs work.
Question 3 – All Parts) None of these questions have any bearing on if a SM has a sincerely held faith or religious belief that is the reason for them seeking a religious exemption for vaccination. In fact parts 1, 4, and 5 are absolutely illegal to base any exemption decision or sincerity on based on the below case law. Spoiler alert: “The Supreme Court has made it clear that it is not a court’s role to determine the reasonableness of an individual’s religious beliefs, and that “religious beliefs need not be acceptable, logical, consistent, or comprehensible to others in order to merit First Amendment protection.”
Now for that FORSCOM chaplain ethical considerations white paper, the entire thing is one huge EO violation waiting for a case. Trying to explain away the prospect that aborted fetal stem cells were used in either the testing or development of a vaccine, or any other part of the process is ridiculous and not remotely the purpose or job of a unit chaplain. What is disturbingly laughable is the fact that they try and explain away the possibility of any ethical dilemma due to the assertion that “maybe it was aborted, maybe it wasn’t” or attempt to bring up the amount of time it was from the abortion to the vaccine development. Then they turn around and cite all these “faith based sources” who they quote as agreeing that yes, vaccine development in some way used aborted fetal stem cells, but it’s all good in the hood homies…pour one out for Jesus.
Using another person or organization to diminish the sincerely held belief of another person is morally and ethically wrong. That would be like cherry-picking some random Imam who claims “hey, its totes cool to eat pork, you actually don’t need to pray at all during the day, and beards have nothing to do with lethality so good Muslims won’t have them” and then using that as the basis to deny a religious accommodation request from one of our Soldiers who legitimately has a sincerely held belief that closely aligns with a large faith group. We see how absurd and wrong that is when you apply the same measures to literally any other belief from any other faith, right? At no point in the 20+ religious exemptions that we have submitted have we ever attempted to diminish what that person believed by trying to disprove or dispel it. Good people and good leaders (to include chaplains) serve all of their Soldiers and fight tooth and nail for them.
As mentioned in the quote above no one can determine what is and is not an individual’s religious belief. That belief also does not have to “be acceptable, logical, consistent, or comprehensible to others in order to merit First Amendment protection”. This stems from the ruling in Thomas v. Review Bd., Ind. Empl. Sec. Div., 450 U.S. 707 (1981). In that case a Jehovah’s Witness was working at a business that made sheet steel for all sorts of uses. That department went under and the company transferred him to another department that happened to make steel for tanks. The guy had a faith based issue with that and asked to be laid off. The company denied it so the guy quit. When he applied for unemployment the state said nope and court hearings were decided and appealed. That State’s Supreme Court eventually said “that’s more of a philosophical belief so no bennies for you” (paraphrased) and the case went to the U.S. Supreme court where they ruled in favor of the guy and further clarified that “religious beliefs need not be acceptable, logical, consistent, or comprehensible to others in order to merit First Amendment protection”.
This verbiage and decision was then adopted into the Equal Opportunity Employment guidelines3. The Equal Opportunity Employment Act and corresponding U.S. Code codify the prohibition of religious discrimination. Using another individual’s faith/religious belief or the claims of a “faith based organization” as a tool to diminish an individual Soldier’s belief is not only wrong…it is absolutely illegal. That white paper and that questionnaire that was probably touted to “just help leaders in the decision-making process and provide guidance”, is both illegal and a violation of Army EO policy. Using those or any other remotely similar methods as a yardstick to measure a SMs faith is a huge no-go. If you are a leader or a chaplain who is using any of that methodology, you absolutely deserve the EO complaints that will be filed against you. Why would you intentionally choose to do the wrong thing by trying to goal-keep for the religious exemption against the COVID shot? You are compromising ethics and morality while also breaking the law & Army Policy, all so your boss’s boss’s boss can get the shot numbers they magically “need”. The government has no compelling interest in you getting the shot because remember: it’s not about readiness because not having the shot does not instantly make you undeployable. It sure isn’t about your personal health because no one is taking the testimony of multiple Army medical professionals or alarming VAERS data into consideration for a virus that our population has a 99.9762% chance (at the time of this publication) of surviving.
So you are a SM who believes that they were subjected to some of these religious purity tests or your command echoed some of these points when you brought up that you wanted to pursue a religious exemption…what can you do about it?
FILE A FORMAL EO COMPLAINT
Military Equal Opportunity:
Military Equal Opportunity regulations are guided by DoDI 1350.02 (4 SEP 2020)
The Army Military Equal Opportunity program is guided by Chapter 6 AR 600-20. In that chapter it outlines the programs for the Army, definitions of MEO violations, and the different processes to address incidents/allegations. The goal of many Army MEO incidents is to resolve it at the lowest level. This means that commands and EO reps/advocates will want to exercise conflict resolution methods rather than have you file a formal complaint. Do not be fooled, this type of religious discrimination is a clear violation of multiple laws, court cases, and regulations. It is not a singular incident where two individuals can work out conflict resolution based upon a misunderstanding or pejorative expression. This religious discrimination flies in the face of what a decent leader (both command and spiritual) owes their SMs as a duty of care. This is especially sinister when coupled with the fact that it is meant to intentionally discourage a SM from practicing their personally held faith in order to force compliance for a shot. That is why this discriminatory behavior meets the description in AR 600-20 Chapter 6, Section 6-6, paragraph a. that states “If low-level resolution fails, the situation escalates, or is too malicious to resolve at a low-level, the complaint processing system defines a process for resolution.” Suppressing a SMs faith, religiously discriminating against a SM, and breaking multiple laws and policies all for an ulterior motive is malicious and does not deserve a pass by “talking it out” with the chaps or your command.
Talk to your EOA rep and inform them you wish to initiate a formal EO complaint. You must have experienced what was outlined in this article or something similar to file a formal EO complaint. If you file a false EO complaint you will be held accountable under UCMJ.
U.S. Code on Equal Opportunity Employment and religious protections:
Equal Opportunity Employment:
Equal Opportunity Employment guidelines directly quoting the Supreme Court decision on religious beliefs:
Thomas v. Review Bd., Ind. Empl. Sec. Div., 450 U.S. 707 (1981):
Recent religious Supreme Court cases and methodology:
EO Complaint Form (partially filled):
EO Complaint MFR:
FORSCOM Chaplain White Paper: