Our veterans have sacrificed more than most will ever know. But sometimes, our veterans need us to fight for them.
For years, they’ve fought for the freedoms that make America what it is. But now, many veterans and service members are facing a different kind of hardship — the loss of the most fundamental freedom they fought to preserve.
The very religious freedom of veterans and service members is under attack. If we do nothing to stop the attacks on their religious freedom, our own religious freedom will also soon vanish.
TRUE STORIES: VETERANS’ RELIGIOUS LIBERTY THREATENED
Chaplain Wes Modder is a decorated military hero who retired honorably after 20 years of service. But he almost didn’t make it to retirement. In 2015, the Navy launched an investigation into Chaplain Modder, requesting that he be removed from the promotion list, terminated and removed from his unit, and brought before a Board of Inquiry. Why?
Because when asked about his beliefs on marriage in a private counseling session, Chaplain Modder answered according to his biblical beliefs and the doctrine of his endorsing denomination.
First Liberty defended Chaplain Modder and challenged the Navy, who eventually dropped the charges against him and restored him to full service in September 2015. A year later, he was able to retire.
But the chilling fact remains: a decorated military hero who had served his nation for two decades was nearly kicked out and stripped of all benefits simply because he did his job as a chaplain.
Watch Marine veteran Mike Berry, First Liberty Senior Counsel and Director of
Military Affairs, share his thoughts on Veterans Day.
Oscar Rodriguez is a decorated Air Force veteran who enjoys performing ceremonial flag folding speeches for military retirement ceremonies and civic events. But earlier this year, Rodriguez was physically thrown out of his colleague’s retirement ceremony in the middle of his flag folding speech. Why?
Because his speech included the word “God.”
First Liberty is still fighting a legal battle on behalf of Rodriguez. You wouldn’t think that physically assaulting a 33-year veteran over “God” would be possible in America — but Rodriguez’s story and ongoing legal battle is all too real.
Watch Air Force veteran and First Liberty client Oscar Rodriguez share his
thoughts on Veterans Day.
The Bladensburg WWI Veterans Memorial was built in 1925 to honor the 49 men from Prince Georgia’s County, Maryland who gave their lives for freedom in WWI. The memorial, shaped like a cross, was partly funded by mothers of those fallen men. One woman, whose son died in France, wrote that the memorial was “in a way, his grave stone.”
But the American Humanist Association (AHA) is suing to have the memorial removed or defaced. Why?
Because the memorial is in the shape of a Latin cross. Latin crosses symbolize grave markers, especially the ones commonly used in WWI.
This legal battle has gone on for over two years. Even though First Liberty has won at court on behalf of the Bladensburg WWI Veterans Memorial, the AHA is relentless in their goal to eradicate the symbolic memorial and have appealed the victory.
If the AHA wins and this memorial is destroyed, it could lead to the destruction of more veteran memorials around the country just because they contain religious imagery — a deep affront those who have served and are honored by such memorials.
Watch Air Force veteran David Holmes, First Liberty Chief Operating Officer,
share his thoughts on Veterans Day.
These stories are just a few of the recent attacks on veterans’ religious freedom. But there are so many more, like Pastor Scott Rainey, the Mojave Desert Veterans Memorial, Air Force veteran Phillip Monk, and the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial Cross.
Veterans sacrifice by spending months away from their loved ones. They have laid their lives on the line to keep our homes safe from foreign threats. Of all people, they deserve to enjoy the Constitutional freedoms for which they fought. But even their most fundamental right as Americans — religious liberty — isn’t safe, as these true stories and ongoing legal battles reveal.
If veterans’ religious freedom isn’t safe, how safe is your religious freedom? And if America loses religious freedom, will any other freedom mentioned in the First Amendment or elsewhere be safe?
The answer is no.
Our veterans have fought for us. It’s time for us to fight for them. Religious liberty — not just for veterans, but for all of us — depends upon it.
News and Commentary is brought to you by First Liberty’s team of writers and legal experts.