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Military Grants First Religious Exemptions To COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

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The Marine Corps is the first U.S. military branch to grant religious exemptions to the military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, nearly two months after the vaccination deadline for active-duty Marines. The Marines approved two requests for religious accommodation from the mandate, the branch said in a statement on Thursday. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced the mandate in August 2021, but every branch had resisted granting religious accommodations, sparking lawsuits and allegations that the military was violating federal law by discriminating against religious troops. The lack of approvals prompted a federal judge earlier this month to block the mandate for a group of Navy personnel, with the judge finding the record “overwhelmingly demonstrates that the Navy’s religious accommodation process is an exercise in futility.” While the ruling didn’t directly apply to the Marines, it likely triggered the military’s first religious exemption approvals, Sean Timmons, managing partner of Tully Rinckey’s Houston office, told The …  » Read full article

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