Liberty Counsel: Marine Commander Defies Judge's Order, Begins Reprisals Against Religious Objector
The day after a federal judge issued an injunction protecting all U.S. Marines with religious objections to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, an allegation surfaced in which a Marine was told by his superiors that unless he was vaccinated, he would be removed from the military.
Liberty Counsel is the Christian religious rights law firm that brought the original lawsuit against Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on behalf of all U.S. Marines who were denied religious accommodations. The firm now reports one Marine officer and a non-commissioned officer have already defied the judge's order, being in contempt of court for unlawfully harassing and punishing a service member for refusing the injection.
The officers reportedly took aggressive action to punish the Marine, threatening to force him from the military, even though they had been made aware of the judge's ruling.
Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, "No one is above the law. Anyone from Joe Biden to the Secretary of Defense to the military commanders will face the wrath of the court for defying this federal order. This chain of command is now in contempt of court for violating this federal court order. We will not tolerate this lawless behavior."
As CBN News reported, U.S. District Court of Florida Judge Steven Merryday ordered class action relief and granted a classwide preliminary injunction on Thursday against the federal government's COVID shot mandate for all U.S. Marines whether they are active or in reserve service.
The injunction ordered by Merryday against the Department of Defense and the U.S. Marine Corps said:
"The defendants are PRELIMINARILY ENJOINED (1) from enforcing against a member of the class any order, requirement, or rule to accept COVID-19 vaccination, (2) from separating or discharging from the Marine Corps a member of the class who declines COVID-19 vaccination, and (3) from retaliating against a member of the class for the member's asserting statutory rights under RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act)."
According to the Liberty Counsel, on Friday, the day after Merryday's order went into effect, a Marine corporal was called into his commander's office. When he arrived, the major and 1st sergeant demanded to know if he "intended to continue fighting the shot mandate." The corporal was then informed if he chose to continue to fight the mandate, he would be moved out of the office and battery duty.
The law firm reported this would be the third time the Marine in question has suffered repercussions and punishments for simply requesting his protected right to refuse the COVID shots for his religious beliefs. He was told he would be given a copy of each of the regimental Chain of Command's statements to review during the weekend.
The corporal was also allegedly informed that unless he got vaccinated by today, (Friday) he would be removed from the military. The Marine told the sergeant he wanted to provide a copy of the class action certification and proof that he satisfied class eligibility as a copy for their records.
The sergeant reportedly said, "The class action doesn't matter. Will you vaccinate by Monday or not?"
The corporal repeated that his religious beliefs prevent him from taking the COVID shots since they are all associated with aborted fetal cells. The sergeant then reportedly pulled out an already completed 6105 punishment form and insisted that he sign it. The Marine refused to sign the form as it was in direct violation of Judge Merryday's order.
In his 48-page court order, Judge Merryday addressed the rights of all Marines under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), reminding the Defense Department and other government officials that it is federal law.
"Obviously, RFRA includes everyone from the President to a park ranger, from the Chief Justice of the United States to a probation officer, from the Speaker of the House to a member's district office staffer, from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to a military recruiter — even if they don't like it and even if they don't agree with it. The Free Exercise Clause and RFRA are the law of the land," the court wrote.
CBN News has reached out to the U.S. Marine Corps for comment. We'll add their response to our story if we hear back.
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