U.S. Navy Chaplain Denied Religious Exemption From Pentagon’s COVID-19 Requirement

U.S. Navy Cmdr. Curtis D. Schmidtlein (right), Command Chaplain for U.S. Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, leads prospective Chief Petty Officers and audience members in prayer during a Sept. 11 Memorial ceremony and flag retirement at Naval Air Facility Atsugi's Chainlocker Club, on Sept. 11, 2006. The early morning observance paid tribute to the history and meaning of the Stars and Stripes, while honoring the memory of those who fell during the 2001 terrorist attacks. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Matthew Schwarz) (Released)

A U.S. Navy chaplain is slamming the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for U.S. service members after he himself was denied a religious exemption from the jab.

Speaking to Fox News on the condition of anonymity, the chaplain said he believes President Joe Biden is using the military as a “nice little test group” that “can’t say no” to the vaccine.

The chaplain, who is also a pastor, was approved for exemption by his commanding officer but it was ultimately rejected “at the top,” he says.

“I was actually pleasantly surprised,” he explained. “I thought my commander was going to be completely opposed to the request, but when I saw on the paperwork that he actually recommended approval and then his boss also recommended approval – I mean, to me, it’s not about me, it’s a big Navy thing. I think the commanders on the ground, many of them see this for what it is, but our hands are tied, and we have a lot of yes men at the top. It’s really bad.”

The Navy, which the clergyman says is subjecting sailors to questions on how sincere their religious exemption to the vaccine really is, has yet to approve any religious exemptions.

Now he faces possible dismissal over his refusal to comply with the Pentagon’s mandate after nearly two decades in service, which would mean he could miss out on retirement benefits.

“It’s a kick in the gut for sure,” he told Fox. “If I lose retirement benefits that way, that would be a pretty significant burden to me and my family. At the same time, this is a fight worth fighting. I do not think this is a lawful order.”

California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa told Fox that the chaplain’s plight highlights how “wrong” the Biden administration’s unforgiving vaccine mandate for military members really is.

“I know this chaplain, and he represents everything that is good about how our military balances the right of faith and the needs of a fighting force,” he said. “That the Biden mandate is trampling him along with our soldiers on the front lines makes crystal clear how wrong all this is.”

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