By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent
WASHINGTON (Worthy News) – Three U.S. Air Force Academy cadets who declined COVID-19 vaccinations citing their Christian faith won’t be commissioned as military officers but will be awarded their degrees, officials said.
Their refusal to take the jabs threatened their May 25 graduation at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. They also risked a repayment demand for six-figure tuition costs.
However, Academy spokesperson Dean Miller confirmed in a statement that the three cadets would get their bachelor’s of science degrees.
He cautioned that U.S. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall will decide whether the graduates must “reimburse the United States for education costs in lieu of service.”
And Miller warned that they won’t be commissioned as air force officers “as long as they remain unvaccinated.”
Initially, four senior cadets, known as “firsties,” refused the vaccine on religious grounds.
Their requests for exemptions were denied, however, and one cadet reportedly took the jab.
“This is a punishment for their religion,” Gordon James Klingenschmitt, a former Colorado state representative and a former Navy chaplain, told The Washington Times newspaper.
“It’s not about the vaccine. It’s about their religious conscience and their politically incorrect Christian beliefs. It’s a religious purge by the Biden administration,” he argued.
U.S. Congressman Doug Lamborn, a Colorado Republican whose district includes the Air Force Academy, had decried the potential graduation refusal.
“America was founded on the principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, which encompasses protecting the religious rights of the individual,” he said in published remarks.
“That includes those who put on the uniform and volunteer to serve our nation. It is imperative that our military leaders uphold the constitutional rights of these cadets,” he stressed.
However, Michael L. Weinstein, founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said the three “should be immediately charged and prosecuted.”
He condemned their “failure to obey the lawful order of the Secretary of Defense to receive the [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] FDA-approved COVID vaccines.”
Weinstein suggested that “They should be aggressively tried via a General Court Martial.”
He added: “If convicted [they should be] be imprisoned as well as being compelled to pay back the hundreds of thousands of dollars per cadet. American taxpayers have forked over for their expensive education.”
The case comes amid a broader debate about the perceived health and moral risks of COVID-19 vaccines, including among Christians.
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