The last week in SOFREP has been pretty interesting stuff. Our writers try to keep a finger on the pulse of defense and foreign policy, technology, and military culture. We try to create an editorial mix that is informative, entertaining, and relevant to current events.  We hope that reading the pages of SOFREP leaves you feeling like you knew more than when you logged on.

Honorable Discharges For Service Members Declining Vaccination

Our story about Congress stepping to assure that service members declining to be vaccinated would receive Honorable discharges will continue to develop.  We have been watching this story for months now, and we’re very concerned that the Pentagon was going to take very harsh punitive action against those who declined the vaccine for medical or religious reasons.  Hearing from service members who did decline, it was obvious that they were not anti-science or embracing some fringe religious belief at all.  Their objections were reasonable and fair-minded in our estimation.  The actions of the Pentagon, in this case, were pretty deplorable.  There is a process in place that allows service members to seek waivers for certain policies that could violate their religious beliefs that stem from laws passed by Congress. In this case, the military was subverting the law by allowing members to file for waivers while telling them that no waivers would be granted.

During WWI, our government imprisoned thousands of Americans who had sincere religious objections to doing violence against another human being. In many cases, these conscientious objectors were locked up for years and were convicted felons for refusing to submit to the draft. After the war, it was acknowledged that real harm had been done to the “free exercise” Clause of the First Amendment in throwing all these people in prison because they refused to be drafted. Some were inducted into the army against their will and then court-martialed and put in military prisons where they were subjected to treatment that would be criminal offenses today. The religious sects subjected to this were well-known for their pacifism, like the Quakers, Mennonites, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and African American Pentecostals.

Americans in the main are willing to fight to protect our way of life and our civil rights under the Constitution, but there is a line to be drawn on how far the government may go in curtailing our rights as we fight in defense of them.