First Liberty Institute Amends Lawsuit, Sues for Religious Protections for All Members of the Navy

group of Navy members sitting on bleachers

The First Liberty Institute (FLI) on Monday amended their lawsuit against the Department of Defense and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to sue for religious protections for all members of the U.S. Navy.

The suit, which originally only included U.S. Navy SEALs, claims the Navy has been unwilling to grant religious exemptions to the coronavirus mandate handed down by President Joe Biden.

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Judge Suspends COVID Vaccine Mandate for Military Service Members Seeking Religious Exemption

The Navy cannot force service members with religious objections to COVID-19 vaccines to take them so long as the exemption process remains “by all accounts … theater,” a federal judge ruled Monday.

“Our nation asks the men and women in our military to serve, suffer, and sacrifice. But we do not ask them to lay aside their citizenry and give up the very rights they have sworn to protect,” U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor wrote in approving a preliminary injunction against the mandate as applied to the 35 service members who sued.

“Every president since the signing of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act has praised the men and women of the military for their bravery and service in protecting the freedoms this country guarantees,” O’Connor said.

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Navy, Air Force Allegedly Issuing Blanket Denials of Religious Exemptions from COVID Vax Mandate

The Navy and Air Force are allegedly issuing predetermined blanket denials of requests for religious exemptions from the military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, in violation of federal law and regulations.

Vice Admiral John Nowell, deputy chief of naval operations for manpower, personnel, training, and education, created a 50-step standard operating procedure streamlining the denials of these requests, known as religious accommodation requests (RARs).

The military is required by law to evaluate RARs on an individual basis to ensure due process under the Fifth Amendment and protect service members’ First Amendment right to religious freedom.

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Navy Removes Two Top Commanders Citing ‘Loss of Confidence in Their Ability to Command’

The Navy has made the rare decision to remove two high-ranking officers from their posts – commanders of the littoral combat ship Montgomery – citing a “loss of confidence in their ability to command.”

The announcement Thursday by the military service provided no specific information about why Cmdr. Richard J. Zamberlan, the ship’s skipper, and Cmdr. Phillip Lundberg, the vessel’s executive officer, were relieved of their command.

However, two Navy officials told The New York Times, on the condition of anonymity, that Lundberg and Zamberlan’s removal resulted from their handling of a sexual harassment investigation.

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Arizona Gov. Ducey Fails to Join Governors Fighting Back Against Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccine for Their National Guard

The Biden administration announced a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all branches of the military on August 25, which applies to members of the Arizona Army National Guard (AZARNG). Although six governors are attempting to stop the mandate for their National Guards, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is not one of them. 

AZARNG has not begun discharging any soldiers yet, but intends to follow the lead of other branches of the military, which have. The Department of Defense declared that Army National Guard and Reserve members have until June 30 to receive their shots.

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Commentary: Dogma, Not Facts, Risks the Navy’s Readiness to Defend the Nation

Airplanes in the air above Navy ships

After the 2020 summer of riots, the U.S. Navy’s Chief of Naval Operations stood up Task Force One Navy (TF1N) on July 1, 2020. After a six-month effort, the final 142-page report was submitted on January 28, 2021 Its two operating assumptions are, first, that the Navy, as an institution, is systemically racist, and, second, that “Mission readiness is stronger when diverse strengths are used and differing perspectives are applied.” Notwithstanding several key military principles—such as unit cohesion, strict discipline across the chain of command, and, well, uniforms—the Navy is now ideologically committed to the mantra that “diversity is strength.”

Not surprisingly, considering the key entering assumptions, the task force report identified problems with Navy systems, climate, and culture; and submitted almost 60 recommendations aligned with four lines of inquiry: Recruiting, Talent Management/Retention, Professional Development, and Innovation and STEM (as well as a fifth line for miscellaneous recommendations).

One should be skeptical, however, about the entire exercise and the recommendations that flow from it. It inaccurately depicts the proud institution of the United States Navy as systemically racist—a slander that has more potential to undermine morale, good order, discipline, and military effectiveness than any geostrategic adversary. 

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Commentary: The Navy’s New Emphasis on ‘Diversity’ Puts the Nation at Risk

group of Navy members sitting on bleachers

After the 2020 summer of riots, the U.S. Navy’s Chief of Naval Operations stood up Task Force One Navy (TF1N) on July 1, 2020. After a six-month effort, the final 142-page report was submitted on January 28, 2021 Its two operating assumptions are, first, that the Navy, as an institution, is systemically racist, and, second, that “Mission readiness is stronger when diverse strengths are used and differing perspectives are applied.” Notwithstanding several key military principles—such as unit cohesion, strict discipline across the chain of command, and, well, uniforms—the Navy is now ideologically committed to the mantra that “diversity is strength.”

Not surprisingly, considering the key entering assumptions, the task force report identified problems with Navy systems, climate, and culture; and submitted almost 60 recommendations aligned with four lines of inquiry: Recruiting, Talent Management/Retention, Professional Development, and Innovation and STEM (as well as a fifth line for miscellaneous recommendations).

One should be skeptical, however, about the entire exercise and the recommendations that flow from it. It inaccurately depicts the proud institution of the United States Navy as systemically racist—a slander that has more potential to undermine morale, good order, discipline, and military effectiveness than any geostrategic adversary. 

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Marine Who Publicly Criticized the U.S. Afghanistan Withdrawal will be Released from the Brig

The U.S. Marine who posted public criticism on social media of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan will be released from the brig Tuesday pending a trial by court martial, Capt. Sam Stephenson, Training and Education Command spokesperson confirmed to the Daily Caller News Foundation.

“Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller Jr. is being released from confinement today, Oct. 5, 2021, as a result of a mutual agreement between Lt. Col. Scheller, his Defense counsel, and the Commanding General, Training Command,” Stephenson said in a statement. “No additional details regarding the agreement may be released at this time.”

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Wisconsin Rep. Gallagher Opposes Using Photos in Navy Promotion Decisions to Enhance Diversity

Wisconsin Representative Mike Gallagher (R-08-WI) wrote a letter to Vice Admiral John Nowell opposing the use of photographs when making decisions about promotions in the Navy. Gallagher and five other members of Congress wrote the letter because he believes that basing a decision about giving a naval officer a promotion on their headshot is not a good criteria.

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