The COVID-19 vaccine exemption process in the Marine Corps gives no consideration to the faiths of individual soldiers and could hamper military readiness, according to Marines fighting the Pentagon’s vaccine mandate on religious grounds who spoke to the Daily Caller News Foundation anonymously out of fear of retribution.
As of Friday, 95% of active duty members of the Marine Corps were fully vaccinated, and another 2% were partially vaccinated, Department of Defense (DOD) spokesperson Maj. Charlie Dietz told the DCNF. A total of 334 Marines have been separated with a vaccine refusal discharge code. The Marine Corps has received 3,538 religious exemption requests, and only three were approved, out of 3,414 requests that were processed.
The Secretary of Defense issued a memorandum on Aug. 24, requiring that all service members be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as a matter of readiness.
An obscure agency of the U.S. government, whose stated mission is to reduce recidivism and work with criminal justice partners to enhance public safety, will begin tracking all federal employees who file for religious exemptions to President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate on federal workers and contractors.
Religious rights group question whether the tracking plan will be used to discriminate against federal employees and contractors of faith.
Nonprofit social advocacy organization Tennessee Stands will rally in support of an amendment for vaccine religious exemptions on Wednesday. The Senate Health and Welfare Committee will be reviewing the bill carrying the amendment that day, which seeks to prohibit government-mandated COVID-19 vaccines.
In an interview with The Tennessee Star, Tennessee Stands founder Gary Humble explained that this rally would allow Tennessee lawmakers to see the support this bill has among their constituents.
The House Health Subcommittee killed a bill allowing exemptions for vaccines based on religious or conscientious objections, especially during pandemics. Lawmakers voted against the bill, 7-3. Committee members that voted against the bill were State Representatives Bob Freeman (D-Nashville), Darren Jernigan (D-Old Hickory), Sabi Kumar (R-Springfield), Pat Marsh (R-Shelbyville), Bob Ramsey (R-Maryville), Paul Sherrell (R-Sparta), and Robin Smith (R-Hixon); those for the bill were State Representatives Clark Boyd (R-Lebanon), Mark Hall (R-Cleveland), Bryan Terry (R-Murfreesboro).
Opposition to the bill raised issue with the possibility of its public health impact, citing the risk posed by non-vaccinated individuals in areas such as schools, daycares, and restaurants. State Representative Jay D. Reedy (R-Erin) had proposed the bill in November initially, several weeks after the general election. Its companion bill was filed shortly after by State Senator Mark Pody (R-Lebanon), who didn’t respond for comment by press time.