My Duty to Disobey
Updated: Feb 8, 2022
"To go against conscience is neither right nor safe." - Martin Luther, 1521
To my knowledge, I am the first Soldier in the world to make a public stand refusing compulsory masking. It seems appropriate to me that it should be an American Soldier who does this.
The Army has imposed stringent mask-wearing requirements on Soldiers from very early in the events surrounding COVID. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin's memo from February of 2021 encapsulates the Army's approach to masking. In practice, the Military treats CDC COVID guidelines as set-in-stone law, usually by having garrison commanders and other senior leaders issue orders to that effect, punishable under the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice).
I am a dentist in the Army, holding the rank of Major. I also have sincerely-held religious beliefs that make wearing a mask in the context of COVID-19 a severe violation of conscience for me:
Because wearing a mask is a form of symbolic speech, doing so causes me to violate the Commandment not to lie - not to bear false witness against my neighbor;
When I wear a mask, I am violating the second-greatest commandment to "love your neighbor as yourself," (Matthew 22:38-40; Mark 12:29-31) because when I wear a mask, I am not doing unto others as I want them to do unto me (Luke 6:31);
Mask-wearing is contrary to symbolic language found throughout the Bible and contrary to Christian practice throughout history - even during the worst plagues. (Examples start at 11:18 in my public statement);
Compliance with mask-wearing makes me complicit in the widespread Constitutional violations perpetrated in the name of public health, and thereby makes me violate my Officer's Oath to defend the United States Constitution;
Public Health has taken on the nature of a performative religion, and I refuse to participate in rituals which promote this novel idolatry, of which mask-wearing is the most visible; and
Attempts to defend compulsory masking on Biblical grounds all fail miserably (I start addressing such attempts at 16:00 in my public statement).
I compromised my conscience, going along just enough to get along, until the pain building since March of 2020 finally became unbearable. On January 10th, 2022, I informed my command that if my religious accommodation request to not wear a mask remained in administrative limbo by February 1st, I would do two things:
Cease wearing a mask and refuse all orders to wear one; and
Publish public statements in-uniform explaining my reasons for doing so
During the resultant formal counseling session, my brigade commander asked me a very reasonable question: "What do you hope to achieve?" The answer is: "Many things, but so long as I don't surrender on a personal level by putting on a mask, my 5 most important goals can be accomplished regardless of how the Army responds:"
Obey and honor God to the best of my painfully-limited understanding and ability.
Articulate a strong religious, empirical, moral, and psychological case against compulsory masking. Compulsory masking and vaccination, much less predictable slippery-slope next steps, cannot withstand critical scrutiny even under utilitarianism, much less a Christian religious basis.
Back that case to the hilt by putting my career, dental license, personal well being, and physical freedom on the line. In other words, try to show people how important this issue really is by setting an example (it is not "just a mask" and never was).
In a military context, compulsory masking really is, in a sense, The One Ring - an Achilles Heel of sorts. The Army has a stronger legal claim over the actions of Soldiers than any other governmental institution can exert over other American citizens. The Army also has more and stronger legal means of enforcement. If the Army mask mandate is not legally sustainable (and it is not, under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act), then all mask and vaccine mandates will eventually fall, and slippery-slope next steps such as compulsory microchipping or Korematsu-type decisions will be effectively taken off the table. Everyone who opposes compulsory masking, compulsory vaccination - and what those might lead to - stands to benefit.
I will enhance informed consent for all current and future members of the United States Armed Forces by publicly using myself as an example of how the Army handles Soldiers who attempt to assert their unalienable Natural Law rights recognized in the Bill of Rights and Federal law (e.g. the Religious Freedom Restoration Act). If the Army won't accommodate a case as strong or beliefs as sincere as mine, with regard to such an ineffective intervention as mask-wearing, for a pathogen with a 0.15% Infection Fatality Rate (less, now), then no Service Member can reasonably expect to have their own sincerely-held religious beliefs accommodated, and needs to know this before they join or renew their contracts.
Masks in the Army are, in a sense, like The One Ring.
I went through the Army's theatrical religious accommodation process, and even by the Army's own generous internal timeline of four months to decide, the approval authority in the Office of the Surgeon General has not even responded to my accommodation request and is now nearly two months overdue. This could simply be due to internal bureaucratic hiccups, but the proceedings of many cases in the courts involving Service Members (especially Navy Seal 1 v. Biden) strongly suggest otherwise. The evidence is so overwhelming at this point that a reasonable person is more than justified in concluding that the Army's religious accommodation process in the context of COVID is nothing more than theater designed to give lip service to the law while avoiding granting substantive accommodations.
I cannot overemphasize that I am not specifically calling on other Soldiers to join me. Such a choice is between them and God on an individual level, and I, of all people, am painfully aware of just what Soldiers who do this are putting on the line - and have actually lost in past generations - for taking a stand on conscience. Rather, I am issuing a general call to all free people of good will across the globe, but especially in America, to carefully examine the moral law that God has written on all of their hearts to discern the good that they ought to do with regard to masking and the other pretextually anti-COVID measures and then act on it to the extent they are able and willing and to lead by example in spite of fear.
I really do believe that this is a Spiritual war, and that it is everyday Americans of all ages, occupations, races, colors, and creeds, who are going to pull us out out this by God's grace and with the same Providential assistance He gave our Founders.
I will take this stand to a decisive conclusion, one way or the other. It's certainly true that the Army has the physical power to hold me down and force a spitmask onto my face against my will, but they lack the power to force me to put on a mask, and that's what really matters.