First Liberty Asks Defense Secretary to Protect Service Members’ Religious Liberty

May 22, 2020
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by Jorge Gomez • 3 min read

Faith is embedded in the DNA of America’s military.

Even before the founding of our great nation, faith and religious freedom have been inseparable from America’s military. From our Founders to our present leaders, our nation has always taken deliberate steps to meet the spiritual and religious needs of men and women serving in uniform. In fact, a majority of service members say that their faith plays a key role in preparing them for their missions, and is a great comfort in times of distress.

Yet right now, opponents of faith are launching wave after wave of brazen attacks against the religious freedom of our military heroes. No one is safe from this assault—not chaplains, not an inspirational dog-tag business, not even a 100-year-old decorated WWII veteran.

When you stand strong with First Liberty, together we can make a lasting impact on the preservation of religious freedom in the U.S. military.

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Recently, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) publicly demanded immediate adverse action against several Army chaplains for carrying out their constitutionally-mandated mission:

  • At Fort Drum, NY, chaplains assigned to the Army’s legendary 10th Mountain Division published a series of videos to a social media site inviting viewers to pray in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • At Redstone Arsenal, AL, another Army chaplain also published a video to social media in which he sought to encourage viewers with a message of hope during difficult times.
  • At Camp Humphreys in South Korea, yet another Army chaplain who sought to offer encouragement and hope sent an email to his fellow Christian chaplains recommending to them a Christian book he recently read.

In each case, the MRFF demanded the Army censor or discipline the chaplains, and the Army quickly complied with the MRFF’s demands.

That’s why, a few days ago, First Liberty sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper to express concern over these recent incidents within the U.S. Army that have resulted in unlawful religious discrimination against service members. Our legal team is urging the Secretary to issue guidance that strongly protects religious freedom within the Department of Defense.

In our effort to protect the First Freedom of our military heroes, we’re joined by The Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty and The Restore Military Religious Freedom Coalition.

Additionally, U.S. House Representative Doug Collins, and 19 of his Republican colleagues in Congress, also sent a separate letter asking Secretary Esper to follow federal law in protecting service members’ religious liberties and ensure the ongoing pandemic is not exploited by radical organizations bent on removing faith from the U.S. military.

Service members have not been immune to the COVID-19 pandemic, but they remain at their posts, defending our freedom. It’s outrageous that chaplains who are helping our service members through this extraordinarily difficult time are being silenced by an anti-religion group and their bogus legal claims.

This is a challenging and unprecedented time. And that’s why it’s more important than ever that First Liberty Institute remains first to answer the call when our service members’ religious freedom comes under attack. We are their first line of defense when their rights are violated or trampled.

And when you stand strong with First Liberty, together we can make a major—and lasting—impact on the preservation of religious freedom in the U.S. Military.

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