Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz tore President Biden to pieces over his apparent refusal to allow for religious exemptions from the military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate – blasting him for “punishing” servicemembers.
Cruz shared the words alongside the comment that he is “pleased” that a judge issued a temporary stay in the case of a group of Navy SEALs who sued for not being allowed a religious accommodation.
“President Biden is wrong for punishing our Servicemembers over their religious freedom,” Cruz wrote. “I am pleased to see a judge issued a stay against Biden’s authoritarian vaccine mandate,” he added.
In a separate post, Cruz noted earlier that the ruling in the case as “a major win.”
Cruz was part of a team of conservative lawmakers who filed an amicus brief in the case of U.S. Navy Seals v. Biden in December.
“Plaintiffs’ religious liberty and the government’s asserted interest in protecting our service members from COVID-19 need not be in conflict, especially where, as here, the individuals seeking an exemption are willing to adopt non-vaccination measures to protect themselves and others from the spread of COVID-19,” the lawmakers wrote.
“They are only in conflict here because Defendants refuse to accommodate Plaintiffs’ religious objections even as they accommodate those who will not receive the vaccine for non-religious reasons. This violates RFRA by substantially burdening Plaintiffs’ religious beliefs without a compelling reason, and violates the First Amendment’s guarantee that government not discriminate against religion,” the amicus brief added.
Cruz and the others in the amicus brief highlighted the importance of religious freedom among military personnel regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Religious freedom is fundamental to every American’s liberty, but we have seen in recent years increasing hostility among elected and appointed government officials towards those who seek to exercise that freedom,” they wrote.
In mid-December, the Military Times reported, “More than 12,000 military service members refusing the COVID-19 vaccine are seeking religious exemptions, and so far they are having zero success.”
The new preliminary injunction offers some hope that the situation could change though it only applies to those involved in the case. The ruling, however, paves the way for other cases which could see a similar result.
“The Navy service members in this case seek to vindicate the very freedoms they have sacrificed so much to protect,” District Judge Reed O’Connor wrote in his order. “The COVID-19 pandemic provides the government no license to abrogate those freedoms. There is no COVID-19 exception to the First Amendment. There is no military exclusion from our Constitution.”
“Forcing a service member to choose between their faith and serving their country is abhorrent to the Constitution and America’s values,” Mike Berry, the institute’s general counsel, said in a written statement.
“Punishing SEALs for simply asking for a religious accommodation is purely vindictive and punitive,” Berry added. “We’re pleased that the court has acted to protect our brave warriors before more damage is done to our national security.”
Author: Derrick Peak