Each service received several thousand requests for religious exemptions from the military vaccination mandate. But as of this week, none of those requests have been approved, even though the services still have many requests to process.
According to the latest updates, the Navy has received 3,038 requests for religious exemption, although the service does not say how many requests have been processed. The military has received 2,128 requests and rejected 162 requests so far. The Air Force received 2,387 and rejected 229.
Coming under pressure earlier this week about why the services were not granted any religious exemptions, the Pentagon’s press secretary, John Kirby, said the services were considering requests “in good faith.”
“We believe there should be a channel through which men and women in the workforce who believe they have legitimate religious exceptions can seek on their behalf,” Kirby said at a news briefing on Monday.
Some Republican governors have refused to implement the mandate for National Guard units in their state, asserting that they have the power to deny the federal military mandate.
U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor has issued a preliminary injunction preventing the Navy from taking negative action against 35 Navy personnel who have sued in court because they are seeking exemption from the vaccine requirement on religious grounds. The order prevented the Navy from implementing policies that would allow these religious opponents to be deemed undeployable or ineligible for special operations.
The US Department of Defense (Pentagon) said it was still studying how to respond to the decision.