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Emasculating the Faith of Our Fighters

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  • Ken Connor
By Ken Connor, CP Contributor
August 27, 2013|2:58 pm

"There are no atheists in foxholes."

When Barack Obama ran for President, he promised to "fundamentally change" America.

Over the last five years or so, the American people have gotten a pretty good idea of exactly what those words meant. We've seen that President Obama's vision of America is one in which we are entirely dependent upon government, and government is entirely unaccountable to us. In Obama's America, political appointees and unelected bureaucrats operate outside the law and without accountability, the Executive branch picks and chooses which laws to follow and which to ignore, and religious liberty is held hostage to the forces of political correctness and social "progress."

The latest battleground in the President's campaign for fundamental change is the military, where chaplains and other persons of faith are finding themselves increasingly under pressure to subordinate their religious consciences to the dictates of tolerance and diversity. In response, the Family Research Council is heading up a campaign to increase legal protections for religious expression in the military, and lawmakers on Capitol Hill are taking notice. From The Washington Times:

"Rep. John Fleming, Louisiana Republican, proposed an amendment last month to the 2014 defense authorization bill that specifically protects the "actions and speech" of religious personnel, rather than just their "beliefs." The third-term lawmaker said the amendment was needed because chaplains feel restricted in how they can pray and preach, and officers are being warned not to display their faith openly.

The Obama administration issued a statement opposing Mr. Fleming's amendment, saying it limited the ability of commanders to address "potentially problematic speech and actions within their units" and would have a negative overall effect on military units. But the full House supported the amendment and a similar provision, co-sponsored by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), has been approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee."

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What kind of religious speech and actions does our President view as "potentially problematic?" Well, maybe an officer has a Bible sitting on his desk and one of his subordinates is an atheist and finds it offensive. Perhaps a commander elects to serve Chick-Fil-A at his promotion party and the gays in attendance are offended because it is a Christian-owned company. Or maybe there is a base-wide promotion of Operation Christmas Child and someone finds it objectionable that the children's charity is affiliated with Billy Graham's "Samaritan's Purse" operation. In short, anything that anyone at any time might possibly find "offensive" is out. Religious speech is out, and overtly religious activities are out. The only safe haven is the realm of the private – the realm of "personal beliefs." In President Obama's "fundamentally changed" America, everyone is free to believe what they want, but the minute you open your mouth you're on Uncle Sam's territory. Your rights stop where his authority starts.

Of course, the White House insists that they are great champions of religious liberty, but as usual this declaration is accompanied by a clever rhetorical caveat:

"In a statement emailed to The Washington Times, Pentagon spokesman Nate Christensen stressed that the Defense Department celebrates religious diversity and that military personnel have the full right to exercise their religious beliefs, as long as doing so does not negatively affect the military's mission or other individuals' rights."

Well, when your mission is the perpetual promotion of "diversity" (meaning anything and everything that is not white, male, heterosexual, or Christian) and your definition of individual "rights" allows for the censorship of anyone or anything that doesn't affirm your progressive worldview, then there is little room left for religious exercise of any real substance.

Critics of the Family Research Council's report on religious liberty claim that Christians in the military are overreacting. There is no war on religious freedom, they insist, and there is no specific targeting of Christians. On the contrary, if anything, Christians are the ones guilty of pushing their agenda:



"Jason Torpy, president of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, said the complaints of hostility to religion in the military are in reality an example of 'Christian privilege' that leads to the religious oppression of non-Christians. 

'From a position of alarmism, they have caused a lot of unnecessary fear and concern within and outside the military,' said Mr. Torpy, an Iraq War veteran who identifies himself as a humanist. 'They've pushed for Christian privilege under the guise of religious freedom.'"

Herein lies the rub. If you want to know what's behind the growing antagonism towards religious expression in the military, it's the belief that "diversity" requires radical and artificially imposed "equality." Because a majority of religious believers in America are Christians, it is natural that instances of religious exercise are predominantly Christian. Christianity is by far the most "visible" faith in America; it's the religion most intimately woven into this nation's cultural fabric. But this simply won't do in Obama's America. Christianity is the religious nail that must be hammered down to the same level as all the others, Constitution be damned.

It is outrageous that the men and women who've dedicated their lives to the protection and defense of the Constitution are finding their most basic First Amendment liberties being curtailed. If there is any group that should resist the shackles of political correctness, it is the military. The U.S. military represents the greatest force for freedom this planet has ever known. Soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen have died by the millions fighting to protect the American way of life, including the free exercise of religion and the freedom of speech. We stand against governments who deny these liberties to their own people. We are freedom's global evangelists. For the President and his ideological allies to attempt to change this is, indeed, an attempt to "fundamentally change" America.

Religious liberty is the reason the first colonists came to these shores. It is part of America's heritage – embedded in our cultural DNA -- and we abandon it at our peril. Freedom loving people on all sides of the aisle should come to the aid of our servicemen and women and stand up for their rights to worship and speak in accordance with the dictates of their consciences. If the White House succeeds in stripping our warriors of their fundamental freedoms, our own emasculation is sure to follow.

Ken Connor is the Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC, the former President of the Family Research Council, and a nationally recognized trial lawyer.
 

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