Congressman Keith Self’s Amendment in Defense of Military Chaplains’ Conscience Rights Passes the House

Today, Congressman Keith Self’s National Defense Authorization Act amendment passed the House. The amendment requires the Secretary of Defense to review and report on the personnel records of military chaplains who suffered retaliation for seeking a Religious Accommodation for the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Department of Defense’s (DoD) COVID-19 vaccine mandate violated servicemembers’ and chaplains’ religious liberty and caused substantial harm to their careers. The DoD's handling of chaplains’ Religious Accommodation Requests (RARs) involved blanket dismissals rather than the individualized consideration mandated by law. Many chaplains who filed RARs endured significant retaliation—through degraded fitness reports, removal from their units, denial of permission to travel, denial of mandatory trainings for promotion, and more—that continues to stain their careers and chances for promotion. Congressman Keith Self’s amendment seeks to account for the injustices suffered by military chaplains by the hands of the Department of Defense.

“The primary duty of military chaplains is to provide spiritual guidance to our servicemembers,” said Congressman Keith Self. “They, like every American, must be free to follow their own conscience without facing retaliation from the government of the country that they have sworn an oath to defend. This legislation is an important step to ensuring that those who serve our country can do so without sacrificing their God-given freedoms.”


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