Forty service members in the Navy who are seeking religious exemption to the Biden administration's COVID vaccine mandate are prepared to file a case against the Pentagon because it refused to provide them with a religious exemption. The 40 Navy Seals are being represented by Attorney Michael Berry of the First Liberty Institute, a non-profit Christian conservative legal organization based in Plano, Texas.

"You would think in this country, the Department of Defense would respect religious beliefs, but instead the Navy is using religious beliefs as some sort of ideological litmus test to purge anybody who opposes the vaccine from our military," Berry remarked during a conversation with Fox News' Tucker Carlson. "Our clients, these Navy Seals, they've been told that even if their request is ultimately approved, they're going to be removed from the Navy Seal community."

Berry challenged the Department of Defense or DoD, which mandated limited travel for unvaccinated family members of Navy Seals personnel. He asked rhetorically, "Since when does the DoD have authority or jurisdiction over family members?" The First Liberty Institute attorney underscored how problematic the DoD's policy was that would force service members to pay the cost of their training and education in the event they were discharged for refusing the COVID vaccine.

On Wednesday, a First Liberty Institute spokesperson told the Christian Post that they were planning to file a lawsuit "in the very near future" in the event the Navy refused to lift the COVID vaccine mandate, assuring that they are "prepared for litigation." Back in August, the Pentagon announced that the agency will mandate the COVID vaccine for all U.S. military personnel by mid-September, citing combat readiness as the main reason for getting the jab.

Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby declared at the time, "Now that the Pfizer vaccine has been approved, the department is prepared to issue updated guidance, requiring all service members to be vaccinated." The Pfizer-BioNTech jab is the first COVID vaccine in the U.S. to be granted approval by the Food and Drug Administration or FDA. The approval, however, remains questionable as it is a "bait and switch" according to a U.S. senator.

Kirby added that the COVID vaccine mandate would "ensure the safety of our service members and promote the readiness of our force."

U.S. Navy surgeon general Rear Adm. Bruce Gillingham also expressed his support of the Biden administration's COVID vaccine mandate, citing "readiness and safety" issues and to ensure that personnel are "equipped with the biological body armor needed to protect ourselves from biological threats."

Berry argued, however, that the U.S. Constitution, the First Amendment, and the federal law and Department of Defense regulations all require the DoD to "honor religious freedom." In fact, the law even states that such religious accommodations must be provided and that there is only a "very, very high bar" to meet in order to deny such religious exemptions to the mandate. It is a stark contrast to what the "very highest levels" of the Pentagon said, which was that "the DOD does not intend to approve any religious accommodation requests."