The Navy plans to violate constitutional law by issuing a blanket rejection of all religious exemptions.
On Wednesday, independent journalist Liz Wheeler dropped a bombshell when she revealed a series of documents from the US Navy that expose their plans to flagrantly ignore several laws and procedures in order to DENY every single servicemembers’ request for a religious exemption to the federal Covid vaccine mandate.
Traditionally, all religious exemption requests are required to follow a strict procedure when they are received in order to fairly evaluate whether or not the request is granted, but as of right now, the Navy’s woke leadership is much more concerned with partisan politics than following the laws that are on the books.
Wheeler provided screenshots of a pre-typed ‘rejection letter’ with the corresponding commanding officer’s signature already printed on it. This letter was sent to several different members of Naval leadership as a template that could easily be updated with the letterhead and signature of the officer in charge of issuing a decision so they could quickly reject the incoming requests.
In this example, CAPT Marc Ratkus – the Commanding Officer of the Navy’s Center for Information Warfare Training (CIWT) – sent a copy of the ‘standard denial’ memo to CDR Meredith Schley, who is under his command, and instructed her to use it for “all requests” that she receives.
The template even included his letterhead and signature on it.
To her credit, CDR Schley was apparently uncomfortable with Ratkus’ command to use the memo because she believed it was unwarranted interference and would be in direct violation of Naval procedure. According to two sworn affidavits, she had even complained to her colleagues about having to do so, but in the end, followed her orders and denied several exemption requests that she was sent to review.
From the affidavits:
“Commander Schley responded angrily at what she perceived to be interference by her ISIC Captain Marc W. Ratkus, Commanding Officer, CIWT, and his JAG, Lieutenant Jesse K. Posey.
She said, “this is just like the religious accommodations. I said I didn’t want to do this and an hour later he [Captain Marc W. Ratkus] called and directed me what to say.”
It’s unclear how far up the chain of command this directive is coming from, although, the letter can be traced back to its original author, which is apparently Navy JAG officer LTJG Carlos Pagan.
Pagan reportedly works for 2-star RADM Peter Garvin, who is the commander of Naval Training and Education Command, but, as Wheeler points out, a 2-star general like Garvin should have no role in these religious exemption decisions because the chain of command for these types of requests goes directly to a 3-star CNP after being reviewed by the servicemembers’ O-6 captain.
Navy policy dictates that the request must first be screened by a Chaplain before it can be submitted and subsequently reviewed. After the screening, the sailor’s commanding officer reviews the request to ensure everything is in order, then it’s sent to the first O-6 (Captain) in the chain of command before a final decision is made by the Chief of naval personnel, which is currently VADM John Nowell – But as the pre-typed response clearly demonstrates, the chain of command is not following procedure when issuing a decision for these exemptions.
US Naval policy also states each submission must be evaluated on a ‘case-by-case’ basis and requires commanders to pursue the “least restrictive means” when making a decision in order to honor the applicant’s religious convictions.
According to Sec. 2000bb-1 of Title 42 US Code:
“Commanders and staff should remain objective in considering requests to accommodate religious practices.
Commanders will not deny or recommend denial of a religious accommodation unless the denial or partial denial furthers a compelling governmental interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.
It is essential that commanders articulate the factual basis underlying any compelling government interest and that they articulate why a recommended denial or partial denial is the least restrictive means available to the commander to protect the compelling government interest over the individual request.”
Also included in Wheeler’s extremely comprehensive 30+ tweet thread were several examples of sailors’ who had already seen their requests get denied and had received some version of the templated blanket refusal.
In this example, a rejection letter that was signed by CDR James Brennan – the CO of IWTC Virginia Beach – stated that the unnamed sailor’s request was denied because they failed to include any specific religious “tenant” that would warrant the exemption – but unsurprisingly, both the Sailor and the Chaplain provided highly specific details in the request, including the fact that the vaccines were developed, in part, through use of aborted fetuses.
While it can be claimed that CDR Brennan may have looked at this case on an individual basis, the letter is unable to hide how the Navy’s leadership has chosen to systematically deny these exemptions no matter what. Brennan even admits that the sailor in question has “strong, personally held religious beliefs” against the Covid vaccine, but is ineligible for the exemption because he has a lack of documentation to support his argument.
The unbelievable (and impossible) demand to provide documentation that proves which religious tenant is being violated has never been the standard operating procedure for these requests – Actually, it’s quite the opposite, the protections for religious accommodations have always been extremely broad, making it so that even atheists can utilize a religious exemption if something violates their personally held beliefs.
The Navy’s policy even specifically clarifies that “religious practices” can refer to “any exercise of religion” even if it is not included in an organized religious belief.
So why is are legitimate requests, with documentation of THE FACT that aborted fetal cell linings were used in the development of all 3 available vaccines, being denied?
Because in the Biden regime, things like religious freedoms and the Constitution take a backseat to mindless compliance.
Not only are the servicemembers having their requests denied, but they are also facing unwarranted and abusive ostricization for simply filing the papers.
When an exemption request is submitted, the woke Navy brass also fills out a CHOP sheet, which is a correspondence tracker that is given to leadership for evaluation. The sheet accompanies a sailor’s request as it makes its way to leadership, and includes comments about their case.
The sailor who is being discussed on the form had provided detailed information in his request from the Charlotte Lozier Institute that showed how, and to what extent, aborted fetal cell lines were used in the development of the Covid vaccines. Instead of factoring that into his assessment, Tiefel refers to the claim as an “alarmist narrative” that originated out of the sailor’s “own research.”
In an attempt to discredit the information, Tiefel cites Pro-Lies.org, which is a radical special interest group that is aggressively pro-abortion. The group routinely insults and stigmatizes the pro-life movement, claiming that people who oppose murdering unborn children are guilty of spreading “dangerous rhetoric” and are “extreme,” “toxic,” and “out of touch.”
Tiefel even quoted the radical abortion site’s description of the Charlotte Lozier Institute WORD-FOR-WORD when he accused the sailor of “pushing alarmist narratives.”
From Tiefel’s comments on a CHOP sheet sent to Ratkus:
“Note: 1 [ineligible] the Charlotte Lozier Institute on Pro-lies.org. It pushes alarmist narratives and spreads his absurd research.”
In other words, if you are a US service member who has a religious objection to abortion, you are guilty of spreading dangerous ideas according to the Navy’s leaders – what a joke.
Not only is it un-American, but this overreach is also completely unnecessary. Back in July, the previous Commanding officer at IWTC Corry Station sent an email that outlined how they were able to fully accomplish the Navy’s mission, despite 0% vaccination rate on the base – Fast forward to now, and the current CO claims that they might not be able to accomplish the mission even though 99%+ have been vaccinated and, in total, less than 20 people out of 2,500+ have applied for the religious exemption.
As the leaders of our increasingly woke military focus on their radical agenda that includes pushing transgenderism, climate change nonsense, and deserting American citizens in Afghanistan, they are also ramping up their efforts to secure mindless compliance within their own ranks. They have intentionally chosen to undermine every existing protection for religious liberties that’s on the books, in order to issue a blanket rejection to countless sincere religious exemption requests.
To add insult to injury, these partisans use lies that are peddled through crazed left-wing interest groups as the justification behind refusing to accommodate the requests.
As of now, almost 1/3 of the entire US armed forces are fully unvaccinated – In the end, how many will be purged from the woke ranks?
In closing, Liz Wheeler sums it up perfectly:
“This is what people in positions of power in the Navy think about people of faith, and these are the resources senior leaders are using to consider these religious exemption requests.
Does this sound like a fair process to you?”