Conservative Groups Join Forces to Defend Religious Liberties of America's Veterans

"You gave up many individual rights to be in the military. Religious Freedom wasn't one of them," the Restore Military Religious Freedom Coalition reminds readers of the Military Times in a full-page ad it ran on Monday, November 11 -- Veterans Day. [view a PDF of the ad here]

The Coalition is an effort spearheaded by our friends at the Family Research Council (FRC) -- and joined by NewsBusters parent the Media Research Center as well as other conservative groups such as the Heritage Foundation-- to fight back against attacks on the religious freedom of the men and women who put their lives on the line for our country.  These violations of religious liberty happen more often than you might think, especially as the major national news media outlets have paid little attention to incidents like these documented in the FRC's October 1 study, "A Clear and Present Danger: The Threat to Religious Liberty in the Military":


West Point study links pro-life groups to terrorism - November 2012

Dr. Arie Perliger of the United States Military Academy, while analyzing "right-wing extremism," compared pro-life groups to the KKK and Neo-Nazi groups. The study, titled "Challengers from the Sidelines: Understanding America's Violent Far-Right,"[40] claimed that radical right-wing ideology is grounded, in part, on the principle that "since every human being is created in the image of God, it is by definition a sin to end their lives before they have been able to 'enjoy love and life of this planet,'"(p. 38). With respect to anti-abortion attacks, Perliger observes that "pro-life violence is driven by several ideological building blocks that are enhanced by religious-based convictions, i.e., fetuses are human beings created in God's image, and as such should be accorded the rights of humans from the moment of conception; any violent acts to end their lives are immoral and should be prevented," (p. 38).[41][42]

President Obama issues negative signing statement on religious freedom amendment to defense bill - January 3, 2013

President Obama signed H.R. 4310 ("National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013" (NDAA)) into law and issued a signing statement. He commented on an amendment to the NDAA, Section 533, which was passed to increase religious liberty protections for service members and chaplains. The President offered up these remarks indicating his intention to elevate special protection for homosexuals above religious liberty:

Section 533 is an unnecessary and ill-advised provision, as the military already appropriately protects the freedom of conscience of chaplains and service members. The Secretary of Defense will ensure that the implementing regulations do not permit or condone discriminatory actions that compromise good order and discipline or otherwise violate military codes of conduct. My Administration remains fully committed to continuing the successful implementation of the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and to protecting the rights of gay and lesbian service members; Section 533 will not alter that.[43]

Army removes cross and steeple from chapel - January 24, 2013 (date of news story)

The U.S. military ordered soldiers to take down a steeple and board-up the cross-shaped windows of a chapel at remote Forward Operating Base Orgun-E in Afghanistan. The soldiers were required to keep the chapel religiously neutral. In 2011, a similar situation occurred where soldiers were forced to remove a cross at a chapel at Camp Marmal, Afghanistan.[44][45]

Utah airmen is reprimanded and his reenlistment contract terminated for objecting to a gay marriage in the West Point Chapel - February 10, 2013

A 27-year veteran of the Utah Air National Guard, TSgt. Layne Wilson, was reprimanded after sending an e-mail on December 2, 2012, to what he believed was the chaplain's office at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Wilson expressed disagreement with the performance of a same-sex marriage in the Cadet Chapel. At the time, the Defense of Marriage Act was still federal law. Instead of responding privately to Wilson, the Commandant of Cadets notified the Utah Air National Guard. Wilson was told via email from Lt. Col. Kevin Tobias, "You are herby reprimanded. As a noncommissioned officer you are expected to maintain a standard of professional and personal behavior that is above reproach. You have failed!" The Air National Guard also terminated his signed, six-year reenlistment contract; instead, Layne received only a one-year extension. However, after his attorney objected, his six-year contract was reinstated, but a June 19 memo left the reprimand in place.[46][47]

To read the full report, click here. To learn more about the Restore Military Religious Freedom Coalition, visit the website at militaryfreedom.org.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters