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The Department of Defense is facing scrutiny after the Pentagon’s inspector general determined it is in “potential noncompliance” over the number of religious exemption denials issued to service members in response to the vaccine mandate.
First Liberty’s senior counsel Mike Berry joined “Fox & Friends” Wednesday to discuss why he considers the effort an “ideological litmus test” as service members continue to push back against the policy.
“The federal law requires the government, in this case the Pentagon, to do an individualized assessment,” Berry told co-host Brian Kilmeade.
“They have to treat everybody fairly. They have to give them a fair and objective analysis when they ask for a religious exemption, and this report says it sure doesn’t look like the Department of Defense has been doing that.”
“It’s been a rubber stamp process that confirms what we’ve been saying for the past ten months,” he continued. “And really what it is, it’s an ideological litmus test. They don’t want anybody of faith to serve in our military.”
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin speaks during a plenary session at the 19th International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-la Dialogue, Asia’s annual defense and security forum, in Singapore, Saturday, June 11, 2022. (AP Photo/Danial Hakim) ((AP Photo/Danial Hakim))
According to an internal memo circulated earlier this month, the Pentagon is in “potential noncompliance” over its denial of religious exemption requests to the vaccine mandate.
The DOD’s Acting Inspector General Sean O’Donnell wrote the report back in June, highlighting “concerning denials” in reference to the number issued.
The IG report comes as the Navy discretely reversed punishments for SEALs seeking religious exemptions from the vaccine, which previously made them nondeployable.
“We’ve got to keep our foot on the gas pedal,” Berry said. “We’ve got to continue to tell the American people and this administration that this vaccine mandate is doing nothing to help us. It’s hurting our country. It’s forcing people out of the military who are capable of serving,” said Berry, adding that the military is not meeting its recruitment goals.
“So we’ve got to stop this nonsense and allow people who are ready, willing and able to serve our country to continue to do so, and this DOD inspector general memo is really bad news for the administration, for the Pentagon, because it shows evidence that the Department of Defense is probably breaking the law,” he continued.
Fox News medical contributor Dr. Marc Siegel criticized the vaccine mandate and said the Pentagon has been allowing medical exemptions, but not religious ones.
“There is no public health reason whatsoever that this should be enforced. Absolute disgrace.”
Bailee Hill is an associate editor with Fox News Digital.