Nearly a year ago, Coast Guard Rear Admiral William Lee spoke from the heart at a National Day of Prayer breakfast. At the time, Todd Starnes of Fox News, reported on the Admiral's passionate speech regarding his religious faith. “As one general so aptly put it – they expect us to check our religion in at the door – don’t bring that here,” Rear Admiral Lee told the gathering. “Leaders like myself are feeling the constraints of rules and regulations and guidance issued by lawyers that put us in a tighter and tighter box regarding our constitutional right to express our religious faith.”
Lee told the cheering crowd that he would defy any of those constraints. “The problem that men and women like me face in uniform who are in senior leadership positions is that the higher you are – the more vulnerable you are to being taken down,” he said. “You get in the crosshairs of those people who lay in wait outside the gate – waiting to take us to task for expressing our faith.”
Yet Admiral Lee was bold in pronouncing that he would not back down from giving those under his command a word of hope. “The lawyers tell me that if I do that – I’m crossing the line,” he said. “I’m so glad I’ve crossed that line so many times.” I urge you to watch the video of this brave's man stand for his faith, and his warning that there is a religious storm fast approaching the armed forces.
Mind you, that was nearly a year ago. At the end of 2013, the Family Research Council released a year-end report by retired Lt. General Jerry Boykin, who is the Executive Vice President of the Council. In full disclosure, the FRC is a faith-based organization whose vision is a culture in which human life is valued, families flourish and religious liberty thrives. Their mission is to advance faith, family and freedom in public policy and the culture from a Christian worldview. To that end, General Boykin brings a unique perspective to how the military and faith are associated.
His paper for the FRC was entitled A Clear and Present Danger: The Threat to Religious Liberty in the Military. You can read his full report here. He begins by recounting how important faith has been in the history of our nation's military. He then relates that it is "with great unease that we at the Family Research Council (FRC) have noted a growing hostility to religion within the armed services in the last decade." He cites that the pressure has especially been acute in the U.S. Air Force. He then proceeds to give a detailed list of abuses against the Christian Faith; and they cover the entire spectrum of the military. I will list just a few:
2004 - Casey Weinstein: A USAF Academy cadet, and the son of an Academy graduate turned lawyer, Casey complained about flyers that were distributed for Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ. The distribution of the flyers stopped, and his father, Michael Weinstein founded the Military Religious Freedom Foundation [MRFF], which has since championed the many court battles against freedom of religion in the military.
2005 - Michael Weinstein ramps up his persecution against the Air Force: In this year alone, Weinstein becomes a vocal critic of the USAF and accuses it of promoting "religious intolerance that is objectively manifesting itself in prejudice and discrimination and is obliterating the First Amendment, civil rights and the US Constitution." In an effort to become more "tolerant", the Air Force institutes a course entitled, "Respecting the Spiritual Values of All People" (RSVP). But it's not enough for Weinstein. He accuses the Air Force leadership of cultivating a religious climate in which the leadership "encourages the evangelicals and tolerates bias." Weinstein sues the USAF alleging "severe, systemic and pervasive" religious discrimination in that service.
2006 - Weinstein's lawsuit is dismissed, but.... : The original complainants in the suit were graduates of the Academy and the judge ruled they had no legal standing. Weinstein then asked for -- and received -- a Department of Defense (DOD) Inspector General investigation of seven officers who appeared in a video for Christian Embassy ministry. While the Inspector General ruled that the video was "inappropriate", Weinstein wanted punishment of the officers; he wanted court martials. His hate for evangelical Christianity knows no bounds.
2009 - Weinstein finds an Anti-Christian ally in the Air Force: With the advent of the Obama Administration, Weinstein finds that Air Force Chief of Staff Norton A. Schwartz shares his view of the lack of religious freedom in the military, and the two begin a mutual admiration society. Suddenly, Weinstein thinks the military leadership is on target.
2010 - Conservative religious leaders are spurned at National Day of Prayer events: Both Tony Perkins, President of FRC (and a former Marine) and Pastor Franklin Graham are disinvited to speak at the National Day of Prayer breakfast, allegedly due to their respective positions against the effort to repeal the ban on open homosexuality in the military, and their view of Islam and its treatment of women.
2011 - A banner year for discrimination against Christianity: Where do I begin? Just consider these outright biases against those of faith in the military: Christian prayer is banned at some military funerals; A 20-year-old ethics training course was pulled from the Air Force curriculum because of its use of Christian reading materials; Chief of Staff Schwartz calls for neutrality regarding religion and encourages those who feel they have encountered violation of this policy to contact an attorney; Walter Reed Medical Center bans Bibles and religious material (this policy was eventually rescinded after a publicity firestorm raged in the House of Representatives); Weinstein and his MRFF organization files suit against Travis AFB for displaying a nativity scene and menorah. As you can see, efforts to quell Christian religious expression are intensifying.
2012 - Attacks against Christianity spreads to other branches of the Military: The year opened with the Air Force removing "God" from the logo of the Rapid Capabilities Office. Then we saw that the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) launched a campaign to bar Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin (USA-ret.), a founding member of the Army's Delta Force and former Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, (as well as Executive VP of Family Research Council) from speaking at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. General Boykin withdrew from the event, citing forces that were "overpowering". This was followed by the Pennsylvania Army Reserve training document which labels Evangelical Christians and Catholics "extremists", and a West Point study that compared pro-life groups to the KKK and Neo-Nazi groups.
2013 - The attacks against Christianity in the Military are too numerous to mention them all: Suffice it to say that Michael Weinstein gets real cozy with Air Force brass and the limitations against Christians become blatant. Christian evangelism is now against regulations. An Air Force officer is asked to remove a Bible from his desk, because it might make someone "uncomfortable". Those who do not agree with the homosexual agenda in the military are singled out for retribution, including a soldier who served Chick-Fil-A sandwiches at his own promotion party; an Army assistant chaplain who was threatened with reduction and rank for posting her faith-based opinion on homosexuality on her Facebook page; and a 19-year veteran of the Air Force, Senior Master Sergeant Phillip Monk, was relieved of his duties after he disagreed with his openly gay commander, Maj. Elisa Valenzuela, when she wanted to severely punish an instructor who had expressed religious objections to homosexuality. Lawsuits flew back and forth while the Air Force continued to uphold the Major, while downplaying Sgt. Monk's claims of discrimination. And finally, we have a briefing in the Fall of 2013 at Fort Hood, Texas during which they were told that evangelical Christians and members of the Tea Party threatened the country. Additionally, they were informed that soldiers who donated to such organizations could be subject to discipline under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Apparently it is those of us who identify with these groups that are "tearing the country apart."
I have only touched on the highlights of this report by Lt. General Boykin, and I urge you to click on the link above to read his full and complete analysis of the state (or lack thereof) of Religious Liberty in our Military. This is a man who has proudly worn the uniform of the U.S. Military, and achieved great things for this country during his stellar service. But he is sounding an alarm that we can no longer ignore. When you remove our God from our military, then you open the door to deviations and departures from moral and ethical principles. Look how much the Enemy has been able to accomplish in just 10 short years! If we do not stop this blatant discrimination, we may soon find that Christianity and Christians are no longer a part of our military.
Finally, I would like you to consider these words with which General Boykin ended his paper: James Madison once described religious freedom as the "lustre of our country." The examples presented above should give us great concern that we have entered a period in which members of the armed services are being subjected to speech codes and restrictions on the free exercise of religion. We recognize that there must be a healthy respect for the beliefs of members of all faiths and those who are not Christian believers. Concurrently, we affirm that religious expression is a right foundational to our Constitution, which those being penalized have sworn with their lives to uphold.
Pray for our military. Pray that the forces and the attacks by those who wish to silence the Christian influence will fall on deaf ears. And pray that our leaders will once again promote the free practice of all faiths in this land, and re-discover our most sacred founding principle.
Joshua 24:15 "And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve .... But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."