Despite receiving over 12,000 requests for a religious exemption from the COVID-19 jab mandate, the U.S. military has yet to grant a single one.
WTRF reported that even though the vast majority of armed forces have gotten their shots, the lack of approvals is still creating tensions in the military as time goes on. Troops who would like religious exemptions have been left puzzled as to why they are even given this option, when they are seemingly impossible to obtain.
The military chaplains have found themselves caught in the middle, having to find the balance between being compassionate and offering guidance along with the need to explain a complicated process that is being shown to be futile in nature.
“So many of them come in thinking that I make the decision, and if they make this case, that it’s a done deal,” said Maj. A’Shellarien Lang, an Army chaplain for the National Guard. “I don’t make the decision. And so when they find that out, it’s a kind of game-changer in the sense that they know that the process has to continue.”
“It’s just been a lot of interviews, a lot of memos,” Lang added. “I find that my colleagues are stressed just because of the logistics of getting the memo done and having to make sure they’re keeping up with the process. It’s like rapid fire.”
While Air Force officials initially said that religious exemption requests would be answered within thirty days, they were shocked to find themselves flooded with 4,700 requests, far more than any of the other military services. The Marine Corps has received around 3,100 religious exemption requests, while the Navy has gotten about 2,700 and the Army has received about 1,700. While some of the requests that were rejected were appealed, there is not much data available on that at this time.
“We did not expect the surge of requests,” said Air Force Col. Paul Sutter, chief chaplain for religious affairs at Space Force, which is part of the Air Force.
One Air Force reservist who spoke on condition of anonymity said that she requested a religious exemption, but is aware of none being approved and is not optimistic about her chances. Nevertheless, she added, “God has a plan for my life.”
Chaplain Lang explained that some service members believe that God does not want them to get the COVID-19 shots, and they are left confused when God doesn’t somehow ensure their exemption.
“If in their heart and their mind, they say this is God’s will for my life, and if the answer is no, it’s going to shatter that faith because there’s no balance. There’s no room for God to say no,” she said. “When I create the space to say what if God says no, then that opens up another whole level of faith conversation.”
This piece was written by James Samson on December 24, 2021. It originally appeared in RedVoiceMedia.com and is used by permission.
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