Cruz: ‘President Biden Is Wrong For Punishing Our Servicemembers Over Their Religious Freedom’
A U.S. Army soldier from the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, immunizes Max Pietro with the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at the Miami Dade College North Campus on March 10, 2021 in North Miami, Florida.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz ripped President Joe Biden over the refusal to accommodate religious exemptions from the military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, claiming he is “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 an earlier post, Cruz also noted the ruling in the case as “a major win.”

In December, Cruz served as part of a team of conservative lawmakers who filed an amicus brief in the case of U.S. Navy Seals v. Biden.

“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 outlet noted that an overwhelming number of requests have been filed among the various branches of the Armed Forces:

Air Force officials initially said religious exemption requests would be answered in 30 days. But they have gotten more than 4,700 requests — far more than the other military services, and the logistics of the lengthy review process has made it difficult to meet that timeline. The Navy has received about 2,700 religious exemption requests, the Marine Corps has 3,100 and the Army about 1,700.

The new preliminary injunction offers some hope that the situation could change. The current injunction only applies to those involved in the case, but the ruling could be used in other cases.

“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.”

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