Conservative Coalition Calls for Legislation to Preserve Religious Freedom in Military

July 9, 2013 - 6:20 PM

military religion

Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) spoke at a press conference on July 9, 2013 at the Capitol about the threat to religious freedom facing Christians who serve in the U.S. military. Also speaking were, from left, Kenneth Blackwell, politician and conservative activist, Ron Crews, executive director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, and Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

(CNSNews.com) – A coalition of legislators and religious freedom advocates warned Tuesday about the growing hostility toward Christians serving in the military and called for a federal statute to protect the religious liberty of troops.

The Family Research Council distributed a report, “A Clear and Present Danger: The Threat to Religious Liberty in the Military,” at the press conference on Tuesday at the Capitol detailing incidences of that hostility, including the July 27, 2011 cancellation of a 20-year-old ethics course taught at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California because it used Scripture.

On May 31, 2013, a painting that included a Scripture citation was removed from Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho after the Military Religious Freedom Foundation complained.

“There’s a long list of things that have been happening in very recent years that for those who do the most for us – uniformed members – who put their lives on the line and who have done that over 237 years, those who have fought for our religious liberties the most are the ones today who are having those very liberties taken from them,” Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) said at the press conference.

Fleming sponsored and the House passed an amendment to the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act to create a statute designed to protect the religious liberty of service members, including the freedom to live out and talk about one’s religious beliefs.

“The only group that it is politically correct to be intolerant of are Christians who had such a profound effect on the founding of this country, including about a third of the signers of the Declaration of Independence being ordained Christian ministers,” Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) said at the event.

The coalition also spoke about a website – militaryfreedom.org – that was launched by the coalition and includes a link that allows members of the military to submit their claims of religious discrimination for review by legal experts.

When asked by CNSNews.com to give specifics examples of the hostile actions singling out Christians, Ron Crews, executive director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, responded.

“One of the chaplains I endorsed a couple of years ago was briefed on the ending of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy,” Crews said. “At the end of the briefing he asked this four-star general ‘Sir, will those of us who hold biblical views of what it means to be married be protected in this new military.

“Whereupon, this four-star general told him, ‘Chaplain, if you cannot get in line with this administration, resign your commission,’” Crews said.

“We have an Air Force officer. For 23 years, everywhere he set up his shop, he would always put a Bible on his desk,” Crews said. “He came to a new location, put his Bible on his desk.

“His superior officer told him, ‘You cannot put your Bible on your desk because it may offend someone,” Crews said.

Members of the coalition also announced that some 170,000 people have signed a petition urging Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to put in place policies that protect the religious liberties of military members.

Others who spoke at the event include: Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy, Christian Robey, political director at the Media Research Center, Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, executive director of the Family Research Council, Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, and Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch.