Each of the services has received several thousand requests for religious exemptions to the military’s vaccine mandate. But until this week, none of those requests have been granted, though the services still have many requests to process.
According to the latest updates, the Navy received 3,038 religious exemption requests, though the service does not say how many have been processed. The Army has received 2,128 requests and rejected 162 so far. The Air Force has received 2,387 and rejected 229.
Pressed earlier this week on why the services had not granted any religious exemptions, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said the services consider the requests “in good faith.”
“We believe that there should be a channel through which men and women of the workforce who believe they have legitimate religious exemptions to seek on their behalf,” Kirby said at a press briefing Monday.
Some Republican governors have refused to implement the mandate for their state’s National Guard units, asserting that they have the authority to reject the federal military mandate.
US District Judge Reed O’Connor issued a preliminary order blocking the Navy from taking adverse action against 35 Navy Seals who sued in court because they are seeking exemption from the vaccine requirement for religious reasons. The order blocked the Navy from implementing policies that would allow those religious objectors to be deemed non-deployable or disqualified from Special Operations.
The Pentagon has said it is still considering how it will respond to the decision.