Recently, the director of the Army Trademark Licensing Program, Paul Jensen, banned Shields of Strength LLC, from producing “Dog Tags” embossed with biblical verses.
These tags are chosen by individual soldiers who desire the inscriptions speaking of valor, courage, and faith in the Almighty. No soldier is forced to inscribe a biblical verse on his personal dog tag, though over the years the Army has allowed soldiers to do so if they wish.
Those who choose to do so feel a sense of confidence, inner strength, and inspiration when wearing or looking at their tag prior to battle or during moments of anxiousness or contemplation. It is not done for purposes of religious missionizing, but rather as a personal touchstone for our warriors seeking a sense of higher mission and divine protection.
Perhaps this decision was a hastily made, reflexive response to intimidating communications from Mickey Weinstein, the head of a one-man operation he calls The Military Religious Freedom Foundation. He labels it a violation of “separation of church and state,” whereas the truth is that Mr. Weinstein has been on a campaign for decades to expunge from the public sphere any expression of sentiments or values sourced in the Bible.
Mr. Weinstein’s threat most likely caused Mr. Jensen to reverse an honorable tradition so as to spare his department a lawsuit from Mr. Weinstein, as has been Weinstein’s practice for decades. Mr. Weinstein has no official standing: he is simply a private citizen who appears to have an animus against Christian beliefs and expressions. Instead of submitting to his bullying, he should be rebuffed.
There is no question that George Washington, one of our foremost Founding Fathers and a General throughout our wars of independence, offered prayer prior to battle, invoked Providence, and instilled confidence in men under his command through the invocation of God’s protection.
The wearing of a dog tag, the most personal identification of our soldiers, and that which remains with him or her even at the moment of death, would certainly have never been considered unconstitutional by our Founding Fathers or a threat to our Republic.
Thus, the Army is not promoting religion, rather allowing soldiers to exercise their personal religious needs.
No doubt, the Army would have been far more magnanimous if those wishing a personal religious reinforcement on their tags were Islamic or if special requests were made from a member of the LTBGQ community. The top brass in our military often seem to have politically-correct eyes and ears.
Mr. Weinstein’s threats, in our view, represent a cruelty and miserliness toward our soldiers, veterans, and Gold Star families. Not only is it a politicization of a wholesome tradition, but the exploitation of the Army in service to his ongoing anti-Christian campaign.
Mr. Weinstein is choosing his vendettas over the emotional well-being of those who serve. It seems selfish, not principled. Our nation has an interest in the valid emotional well-being of those in our armed forces serving our country. The Army should once again allow those who wish to wear their “Shields of Strength” to continue doing so.
(Rabbi Aryeh Spero is spokesman of the Conference of Jewish Affairs, author of Push Back: Reclaiming our American Judeo-Christian Spirit, president of Caucus for America, and a frequent guest on Fox News.)