Friday, June 7, 2013

Defending our Defenders

Tony Perkins
Family Research Council

You know that old saying, "Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, and three times is a pattern?" Well, when it happens over a dozen times, it's a scandal -- especially when it's happening in our military. Almost every week, we're reading about a new incident of religious hostility in the ranks, as anti-Christian bullies punish people in uniform for even the smallest expressions of faith. A large part of the problem is the Pentagon's own policy on faith, which is so undefined that outside extremists are using the confusion to their advantage. While the Defense Department muddles through the "do's" and "don'ts," groups like the Military Religious Freedom Foundation are conducting one sortie after another on religious freedom in the military.

Congressman John Fleming (R-La.), recognizing the sacrifices our military makes to protect our freedoms, is fighting back on behalf of those in uniform by offering an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would safeguard the troops' religious liberties. In an interview with Fox News's Todd Starnes, Dr. Fleming rattled off a series of the most outrageous attacks against our service men and women:

  • When a serviceman expressed his religious position about homosexuality on a personal blog, he received a "severe and possibly career-ending reprimand."
  • An enlisted service member was given a negative efficiency report for sending personal invitations to his promotion party, in which he said he would be serving Chick-fil-A sandwiches "in honor of the Defense of Marriage Act."
  • A senior military official at Fort Campbell sent out a lengthy email instructing officers to recognize "the religious right in America" as a "domestic hate group," (akin to the KKK and Neo-Nazis) because of its opposition to homosexual behavior.
  • An Air Force officer was told to remove a Bible from his desk because "it might offend someone." The officer had kept the Bible on the desk for 18 years.
  • A chaplain was relieved of his command over a military chapel because he refused to deviate from federal marriage law and allow same-sex "weddings" on base.
  • An enlisted service member was threatened and denied promotion by a senior NCO for expressing -- during a personal conversation -- his support of natural marriage.
  • Last month, Coast Guard Rear Admiral William Lee told a National Day of Prayer audience that religious liberty was being threatened by Pentagon lawyers and service members are being told to hide their faith in Christ. "Leaders like myself," he said, "are feeling the constraints of rules and regulations and guidance issued by lawyers that put us in a tighter and tighter box regarding our constitutional right to express our religious faith."

Dr. Fleming's amendment clarifies the vagueness that currently exists in the military's guidelines on faith. In spite of every Democrat on the House Armed Services voting against it, the language was accepted. Next up? A vote on the full floor --and a debate in Harry Reid's Senate, where there's less support for protecting the faith of our men and women in uniform. Please contact your representative and both your senators and encourage them to protect our fighting men and women just as much as they protect us!