Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Air Force: "Christians' Religious Speech, Not A Protected Right"

Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF

Christians in the military are being told that their religious freedom and religious speech is "not" protected by their First Amendment rights.

Military lawyers are now claiming that legal protections for religion only pertain to matters such as clothing and growing beards but do not extend to any religious expression such as sharing one's personal faith in Jesus Christ or posting a Bible verse.

The assault on religious freedom in the military---and elsewhere, has been brewing for several years.

Mikey Weinstein, founder of the atheist "Military Religious Freedom Foundation," told the military and the country last April, "Today we face well-funded gangs of fundamentalist Christian monsters who terrorize their fellow Americans by forcing their weaponized and twisted version of Christianity upon their helpless subordinates in our nation's armed forces."

What was "brewing" last April is now boiling over.

It's stunning, to say the least.

Weinstein's comments were included in a national article published in the Huffington Post.

Weinstein has become a consultant to the Pentagon to help guide them in developing new policies on so-called "religious tolerance," including a policy for court martialing military chaplains who overtly share the biblical Gospel while spiritually counseling American troops.

If you want to be well informed on this matter, read his full article linked above.

Weinstein fully supports Lt. Col. Jack Ritch, the Army officer who wrote to subordinate officers that soldiers who hold traditional Christian beliefs that agree with the Southern Poverty Law Center's "hate groups" list are incompatible with "Army values" and should be carefully watched and excluded from military service.

The SPLC's "hate groups" list, to which our government has given credence, includes Family Research Counsel, American Family Association and other evangelical Christian organizations.

All this could be dismissed if these groups were merely fringe groups with little to no influence, however, our own government has given them significant influence and access to policy process.

In fact, the Pentagon gives Weinstein unprecedented access. When he calls the Pentagon to report a "violation" of the "no religious freedom" policy our military seems to be following, the Pentagon acts immediately.

Within hours, not days, the Pentagon orders the removal of pictures, plaques, mottos or any other expression of Christianity from the walls and halls of military complexes all over the nation.

The same is true if a Christian chaplain uses too much Scripture.

Hours--not days. And Weinstein publicly brags about it.

The latest incident occurred last week when a cadet at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs wrote a Bible verse on the white board outside his living quarters in a residential dormitory.

These white boards are designated for both "official and personal use."

The cadet wrote, "I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ in lives in me. The life that I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).

Weinstein heard about it and immediately inserted himself. He is quoted as saying posting the Bible verse "massively poured fundamentalist Christian gasoline on an already raging out of control conflagration of fundamentalist Christian tyranny..."

Mike Berry with Liberty Institute has now taken this case on behalf of the Christian cadet.

My friend Kelly Shackelford, founder and CEO of Liberty Institute says, "Stripping away the religious freedom from those sacrificing for our country is not only morally wrong---it's illegal."

But yesterday Mike Berry told Ken Klukowski with Breitbart News that when he told the Air Force Academy legal representative that under federal law and military regulations, cadets have the right to religious exercise, he was not prepared for the response.

He says, "I was shocked when he responded that the Air Force policy, from the Pentagon, is that term 'religious exercise' does not include written or verbal speech."

So the military is saying you can believe whatever you want, but you cannot write it down or say it out loud.

I have noticed a change in the words the White House and the President are now using in regard to religious freedom. Recently they have consistently been using the term "freedom of worship" rather than "freedom of religion." I personally believe this indicates an effort to suggest that the administration is not concerned with what you practice in your church building, but very concerned that you not try to bring your Christian beliefs into the public marketplace or culture.

Berry reminded the Air Force legal representative, a colonel, that there are specific legal protections service members have from the Constitution itself, to Acts of Congress, to military regulations.

The colonel responded that the Air Force and Department of Defense believe that "Instruction 1300.07 only applies to religious grooming and apparel matters, but not to writing a Bible verse on a white board or even verbally sharing a Bible verse."

This policy seems to be coming from a March 2013 Air Force JAG memo that interpreted the law that way.

Last week the Air Force issued a press release that referenced Air Force 1-1, which was adopted as policy soon after Obama became President. It is a policy that is frequently used to suppress religious speech---especially that from Christians.

The press release then added that "sometimes we must put the good of the entire unit before the good of any single individual."

The question, then, is, "Who decides what is the greater good for the unit?"

Those making the moral decisions at present seem to believe that atheism is a greater good than the traditional Christian faith upon which this nation was founded, and the religious freedom for which we fought the Revolutionary War.

This is a stunning development to say the least. You will hear much more about this case in the coming months.

While this case becomes more and more public, last Wednesday the military demanded that the Gideons International remove their Bibles from Maxwell Air Force Base-Gunter Annex in Alabama.

The Gideons had, for years, been distributing a Bible to each of the new recruits. Last Wednesday they were told to "Get your Bibles out." They complied this past weekend. The Bibles are out.

Kelly Shackelford is right. This assault on Christianity is morally wrong in all cases and legally wrong in many cases.

Be Vigilant. Be Discerning. Be Bold. Be Strong. Be Pro-Active. Be Prayerful. Be Blessed.