This Independence Day, millions of Americans took time to honor those in the military who risk their lives to ensure America remains free and independent. Unfortunately, an increasing number of military members are discovering their own rights to free speech and religious expression are being curtailed within the very institution they’ve sworn an oath to uphold, whose primary purpose is to protect those same rights for the rest of us.
Since 2013, there have been approximately 70 attempts to curtail these rights for those who serve in the armed forces, either relating to members’ beliefs, memorials that honor veterans, or religious speech. These attempts to stifle members of the military’s First Amendment rights have increased even more in the last five years. Here are a few samples of what those issues look like to the men and women who serve.
Military’s Record on Religious Freedom Getting Spotty
There have been several recent examples of religious members of the military being unable to express their views or hold to their conscience without negative repercussions. As a chaplain serving in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Scott Squires often conducted marriage retreats for couples called “Strong Bonds.” Recently he declined to conduct this retreat for same-sex couples due to his religious beliefs and the guidelines set forth by his endorsers.