It has become too easy in the cultural climate to neglect the basic rights of fellow Americans with whom we disagree. We must never do this, especially when it comes to matters of faith and conscience centered on the First Amendment right to worship.
That’s why supporters of free speech and religious freedom should be encouraged by a federal court order issued in Texas on Monday. In a victory for the grassroots machinery of our constitutional republic, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor in Fort Worth ordered two fairly powerful entities – the Department of Marine and Defense – to stay disciplinary proceedings against 35 military, including 26 Navy SEALs, who refused to take the COVID-19 vaccine. The judge ruled that the Defense Ministry violated the constitutional right of seafarers to refuse the vaccine on the basis of religious beliefs.
The main reason the military does not take the vaccine is their objection to any vaccine developed from aborted fetal cell lines – although there are other reasons specified in their pursuit as well.
Among them was the complainants’ belief that they should not be forced to take vaccines that “alter” or “defile” their bodies. They also cited a rare side effect of the COVID mRNA vaccine, inflammation of the heart known as myocarditis and pericarditis – complications that can also occur as a result of COVID infection.
Some might shake their heads at the military’s belief that vaccines are “an affront to the Creator,” a claim in their November trial. Some might scoff when they read that the complainants believe they have received “direct divine instruction not to receive the vaccine.” But, in a society of religious freedom, these skeptics must also accept that there are other Americans who believe and support these servicemen – religiously and / or constitutionally.
O’Connor firmly ruled in his order “there is no military exclusion from our Constitution”.
“The COVID-19 pandemic,” he continued, “does not give the government any license to repeal these freedoms. There is no COVID-19 exception to the First Amendment. “
Meanwhile, a group of Colorado College students in Colorado Springs, including much of the crown jewel’s men’s hockey team, are pushing back the school’s recall shooting mandate. They cite the rare side effect of cardiac inflammation which is statistically a more acute concern for young people, namely young men. While the elite private college may indeed want to reconsider its unique approach to COVID-19, Colorado College is nonetheless a private institution empowered to set its standards on these issues. His administration needs to take the lead, uh, to keep the campus safe.
The Navy, on the other hand, is a public institution that speaks for the US government and must act on it.
Certainly, O’Connor’s decision flies in the face of the military approach to COVID and other vaccines.
For the past seven years, the Navy has not granted religious exemptions for any vaccine. Maybe it should have. As the sailors’ lawyer, Michael Berry said, “forcing a soldier to choose between his faith and serving his country is odious to the Constitution and to American values.”
the editorial board of the Gazette