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Religious Accommodations

WARNING:  Due to network limitations, commands that do not have regular Navy/Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) email accounts (e.g., overseas, sea duty or joint commands), should email the RA Program Manager at without attachments first to establish contact and so that the request package can be sent directly to the Action Officer.  If no response is received within 2 business days, resend email without attachments to reestablish communication.

Packages received more than 14 days after the member’s written request date require justification prior to OPNAV N13 processing.

The United States Navy values diversity and recognizes that through inclusion we are a better military and stronger nation for it. Accommodation of sincerely held religious beliefs are a pillar of the Navy’s commitment to treating all Sailors with dignity and respect. The Navy works to support each Sailor’s religious practices to the broadest extent possible within the bounds of military readiness, unit cohesion, good order, discipline, health and safety.

Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Religious Accommodation (RA)?

RAs includes accommodating a Service member for an otherwise applicable military policy, practice, or duty. In accordance with The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, if such a military policy, practice or duty substantially burdens a Service member’s exercise of religious, accommodation can only be denied if:

1. The military policy, practice, or duty is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest (e.g. mission accomplishment, safety, force health).
2. It is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

How long will it take for my request to be approved or disapproved?
Within the Continental United States - No later than 30 days from service member submission.
Outside the Continent United States – No later than 60 days from service member submission.

Can I appeal a RA request denied by DCNO (N1)?
Yes. Appeals of DCNO (N1) decisions will be forwarded to the Chief of Naval Operations for final adjudication.

What do I do if my RA request gets approved by DCNO (N1)?
A requestor with an approved RA must inform his or her chain of command of the approved accommodation immediately, or upon checking in to a new command or changing duties. A requestor must retain a copy of the approved accommodation, and be able to produce it within five working days when checking into a new command. The member is responsible for ensuring the document is uploaded to their permanent record in NSIPS via their administration department.
How long is the approval good for?
Religious accommodations remain active, and a part of a Sailor’s permanent record for the length of their career. They are however, subject to review, suspension or revocation, in whole or in part, any time there is a change in the circumstances upon which the initial religious accommodation was based (e.g., new duty assignment, temporary duty or other material change in circumstances).  A commander or future commander must notify the Sailor or candidate in writing that a compelling government interest requires suspension or revocation of the accommodation. The written notification must include the nature of the changed circumstances and specify the reason for the revocation and the length of the suspension.

A commander may require immediate compliance of an approved accommodation only under exigent circumstances and in furtherance of a compelling government interest due to operational necessity, when time is of the essence and no less restrictive means of religious accommodation are available.

What is the process for submitting a RA for the COVID-19 vaccine?
Sailors seeking accommodation of a religious practice that requires a waiver of the Navy’s Immunization policy must submit a request in writing to their commander, consistent with BUPERSINST 1730.11A and MILPERSMAN 1730-020. Prospective accessions seeking a RA should use their accession source chain of command.

A Navy chaplain will conduct an administrative interview for each RA request that requires a waiver to the Navy’s Immunization policy. The chaplain will inform the Sailor or prospective accession that the interview is not confidential and for the purpose of preparing the memorandum for the record that will be forwarded to the Sailor’s commanding officer (CO). The Sailor’s CO will then take the Sailor’s request, and after consulting with the program stakeholders, forward it to the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (N1). If the CO is an O5 or below he or she will forward the request to the first O6 in their chain of command for review, prior to it being submitted to DCNO(N1).

Do all RA packages require an endorsement from a Navy Chaplain?
Yes. BUPERSINST 1730.11A requires a memo and checklist from a Navy Chaplain. Civilian and other service chaplains may counsel, but not endorse an RA package.
Can a Navy Reservist submit a RA request?
RAs can be requested by both active and reserve members (officer and enlisted) of the Navy. These include applicants for entry into the Navy and Navy Reserve, as well as midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA), the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC), and officer candidates in Navy officer accession programs.
What are the types of exemptions from immunization?
There are two types of exemptions from immunization - medical and administrative.

Medical exemptions will be determined by health care providers based on the health of the requestor, and the nature of the immunization under consideration in line with BUMEDINST 6230.15B and MILPERSMAN 1730-020. Please contact your Medical Department for additional information concerning medical exemptions for the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Administrative exemptions include religious accommodations. Religious accommodation requests will be reviewed against the compelling interest of the health and safety of the military work force.
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