The U.S. Air Force is facing lawsuits over the dismissal of multiple service members for refusal to take the COVID-19 vaccine. The service members in question have cited religious exemption as their reason for refusal.
Nicole Russel of the Washington Examiner writes that the lawsuits claim the Air Force is discriminating against its personnel because they wished to cite religious exemption to avoid taking the vaccine. The dilemma is deciding whether or not these service members are truly exempt due to religious reasons or if they are simply trying to avoid getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
About 2% of Air Force service members have not been vaccinated, citing religious objections. A February report showed that out of about 16,000 requests for religious exemptions, the U.S. military had granted only 15. The Air Force specifically has granted nine.
The military is typically open to religious accommodations, but 16,000 requests seem like a lot. Especially, that is, when service members are already required to have multiple vaccinations to be in the military in the first place. Christianity is the predominant religion in the United States, and it’s unclear why the religion would forbid the COVID-19 vaccine but not, for example, the malaria or hepatitis-A vaccines. It’s possible the military believes the request for a religious exemption in this case is a ruse and that military members simply do not want to take a vaccine.