Military Religious Freedom Religious Accommodations


Military Religious Freedom & Religious Accommodations. Military personnel in the U.S. have a legal right to seek a religious accommodation. The process includes seeking the advice and the insights of their commander, medical provider, chaplain, and sometimes an attorney. Military religious freedom attorney R. Davis Younts will protect your right to seek a religious accommodation and help you obtain that accommodation.

What is the process for granting a religious exemption for a vaccine? How is the sincerity of a religious exemption request determined? What will military attorney R. Davis Younts – a former Chief of the Military Justice Division at the USAF JAG School – be able to do on your behalf?

With record numbers of military personnel seeking a religious exemption to the military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, those who are seeking the exemption should be aware of the laws and legal precedents regarding religious accommodations in the military.

What Protects Religious Freedom in the Military?

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 ensures that the military allows religious accommodations provided that those accommodations have no negative impact on preparedness, discipline, order, or unit cohesion, so that men and women of faith may enlist in the military without reservations.

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act both protects the right to the free exercise of religious belief and establishes a right of action for judicial relief when religious rights are violated or religious accommodations are not provided.

Beyond the provisions of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a person’s right to refuse a medical treatment is universally recognized in documents that include the Nuremberg Code of 1947 and the Declaration of Helsinki, developed by the World Medical Association in 1964.

How Does the Military Handle Religious Accommodations?

Nevertheless, Congress and the courts have historically allowed military officials to impose strict conditions for religious accommodations, which must be tied to a deity only. Civilians, of course, enjoy far-reaching legal protections for a variety of philosophical and personal beliefs.

It’s a difference that enhances the discipline and strict order necessary for military operations. Seeking a religious accommodation is a choice that should be made with legal, medical, and religious guidance.

Concerning the lawfulness of a hygiene or health requirement under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, military commanders must show a compelling government interest and apply the requirement in the least restrictive way possible if it burdens a sincere exercise of religion.

A service member who challenges a health or hygiene mandate by seeking a religious exemption has the burden of proving that the requirement substantially burdens the exercise of a sincerely held religious belief.

Then the burden moves to the government to prove that the mandate furthers a compelling government interest and is the least restrictive method of advancing that compelling interest.

How Is a “Religious Belief” Defined?

What constitutes a religious belief under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act? Conduct that someone seeking a religious accommodation claims is an “exercise of religion” must be based on a religious belief, not a mere philosophy or way of life, and the belief must be sincerely held.

The government may not question beliefs or practices of faith. An inquiry regarding whether to approve a religious accommodation is limited to whether the individual sincerely holds the belief and whether the belief is in fact religious rather than merely ethical or philosophical.

When someone has applied for a religious accommodation, a commander may not withhold leave, deny change-of-duty locations, deny approvals for schools necessary for promotion, or otherwise treat the applicant in a retaliatory or illegal manner.

If a religious accommodation is denied, the denial may be appealed to the Surgeon General of the appropriate service branch. If that appeal fails, the applicant may ask for a nonpunitive discharge from the military because it cannot accommodate the applicant’s religious beliefs.

What Are the Religious Objections to Vaccines?

Both the Qur’an and the Bible indicate that ingredients used in vaccines are non-halal and non-kosher. Those ingredients include cells from aborted human fetuses and from animals including dogs, pigs, cows, and chickens; toxic chemicals, including formaldehyde; and neurotoxic metals including aluminum and mercury.

Those who seek a religious exemption for a vaccine – or for any other reason – do not have to prove that their belief is part of a “mainstream” religion. They merely have to prove that the belief is religious, sincere, and burdened substantially.

How to Reach Attorney R. Davis Younts

Military religious freedom attorney R. Davis Younts will review your case and advocate on behalf of your religious freedom. He has been a JAG (Judge Advocate General) and a top-ranked Senior Defense Counsel in the U.S. Air Force.

If you are seeking a religious accommodation or exemption – for the COVID-19 vaccine or for any other reason – schedule a consultation as soon as possible with military defense attorney R. Davis Younts by calling his law offices at (717) 340-4980.


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