Kansas Lawmakers Call on Military to Defend 'Judeo-Christian Tradition'

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By Katherine Weber, Christian Post Reporter
May 30, 2013|6:48 pm

In light of recent concerns regarding religious expression in the U.S. military, members of Kansas' state legislature are calling on the military to defend religious freedom, namely the Judeo-Christian faith.

Last Friday, Kansas Senate members passed resolution 1767, in which they state that they "strongly support the 200+ years of Judeo-Christian tradition and its open expression in the U.S. Military."

The resolution calls on U.S. legislators to "aggressively defend the rights of religious conscience and the free exercise of the Judeo-Christian tradition in the U.S. Military and support the professional chaplaincy."

"The Judeo-Christian tradition has been, and continues to be, the majority religion in the U.S.A. and its military," the resolution adds.

On a local level, the resolution calls on the Kansas National Guard to respect the religious expression of Judeo-Christians, and on a national level, it calls on civilians and military leaders to respect religious expression.

Colleagues in the state's House of Representatives are reportedly having similar resolutions drawn up for vote.

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State Rep. Pete DeGraaf (R-Mulvane), one of the resolution's sponsors, told The Huffington Post that he believes there is certainly an issue within the U.S. military with regards to religious expression, and he believes Christianity is being singled out.

"There is certainly concern with what is going on at the Pentagon," DeGraaf told The Huffington Post. "They are singling out Christianity with our troops. We have a long history of being a Judeo-Christian nation."

DeGraaf went on to state that he believes Christianity is being singled out in the military, and therefore it is necessary for the resolution to include language pertaining to the Judeo-Christian faith.

"Unfortunately the Pentagon's attack is not on all religions," DeGraaf said. "We are a Christian nation that is open to all religions. Our Founding Fathers are Christian, our philosophy is Christian, our laws are based on Judeo-Christian ethics."

Similarly, Sen. Mitch Holmes (R-St. John), one of the 17 Republican Senators who sponsored Senate Resolution 1767, told The Topeka Capital-Journal that he feels the military has become less accepting of religious expression since he served as a Christian in the military years ago.

"There's a movement right now in the military to punish people for expressing their faith, using the excuse that they're coercing people," Holmes said. "I can say, and I think other veterans would agree, that I've never experienced that."

During the resolution's debate on Friday, Holmes reportedly provided his colleagues with a list of 20 bulleted items detailing the military's incidences with religion dating back to 2010, including the army ordering the removal of Bible verses etched into rifle scopes.

Also on the list of incidences is the recent meeting between Pentagon officials and Mikey Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation who has previously described conservative family groups as "fundamentalist Christian monsters."

The meeting between Weinstein and Pentagon officials was reportedly meant to address tolerance and harassment issues within the military, and several Christians objected to Weinstein's opinion due to his previous incendiary comments regarding Christians.

Although these resolutions do have solid backing from many of the state's Republican lawmakers, others argue that the Kansas legislature should keep its business separate from the U.S. military.

One such lawmaker is state Rep. Barbara Bollier (R-Mission Hills), who told The Huffington Post that she opposes the resolution because it is not inclusive of all religions, but rather specifically focuses on Judeo-Christianity.

Bollier posted a draft of the resolution on her Facebook page and asked for her viewers to share their opinion regarding the resolution.

One commenter, Scott Roulier, wrote that he believes "Kansas has no business drafting something affecting the U.S. military or trying to broaden the federal laws on gun control. Get a budget passed with fair taxation; now that is something that you can do!"

Another commenter, Tiffany Johnson, warned of the discrimination that could come against other religions, since the resolution specifically protects Judeo-Christianity.

"I'm very skeptical about the specific language regarding the Judeo-Christian tradition. I don't understand why this is necessary and I'm concerned regarding potential discrimination against those of other traditions who are not specifically named. Not in favor of this," Johnson wrote.

Still, many Christians argue that they believe Christianity is being specifically targeted within the military.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, recently called upon the Pentagon to end religious hostility within the military.

In a blog posted on the Family Research Council's website, Perkins referenced the Pentagon's meeting with Weinstein, saying:

"For too long, the [Department of Defense] has tested the limits of political correctness, turning a policy of religious neutrality into an excuse for religious hostility. It's time for the Pentagon to show the American people who it stands with: Mikey Weinstein or our brave men and women in uniform?" Perkins wrote. "If the latter, then it's time they ensured our troops can exercise the very rights they protect."

Another recent incident which drew the ire of Christian groups was the concern that proselytizing within the military could result in court martialing.

The Department of Defense later released a statement clarifying that aggressive proselytizing has been and will continue to be barred within the military ranks, but appropriate evangelism and spreading of the Gospel are still permitted.

 

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