There may not be a lot of atheists in foxholes, but there certainly are a lot of quiet Christians these days.
Under an administration that views religion as more of a liability than an asset, more of our troops are taking the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” approach to faith. The climate of intimidation that began in the Air Force is bleeding over into every branch — leading even military chaplains to wonder about their security in referencing a Bible that some airmen aren’t even allowed to leave on their desks. In a Pentagon where evangelical Christians are viewed by some as “extremists,” the pressure to impose a secular culture on our nation’s military has intensified enormously during President Obama’s time as commander-in-chief. His administration, whose primary goal seems to be opposing Americans’ conscience rights, is continuing that attack on a military culture defined by a long tradition of faith.
Today, FRC and our allies are saying “not on our watch.” Because members of the military are not free to challenges the President’s policies, we are vowing to do it for them. At a Capitol Hill press conference, we announced the formation of a coalition dedicated to protecting the freedom of the men and women who guard ours. Surrounded by conservative partners and congressmen like Reps. John Fleming (R-La.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), and Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) — many of us are military veterans ourselves — pledged not to be silent or indifferent to these attacks on religious liberty.
As part of this new effort, FRC released a special report documenting the waves of hostility toward religious expression in the military. Unfortunately, the examples we cite are only a snapshot of the calculated push to scrub faith from our troops by threatening punishment or, worse, career-ending action. Based on the calls and confidential information we’ve received, this is only a small sample of the outrages that have been made public. “We must,” said FRC’s Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, “do all we can to ensure that our service members have the right to practice the very freedoms that they risk their lives to defend.”
For the last several months, FRC has tried to do exactly that, exposing the situation in the media and working with members of Congress to insert language into the Defense Authorization bill that would secure the rights of our military — not only to have faith, but to openly act on it. Rep. Fleming’s conscience rights measure sailed through the House with bipartisan support. In fact, the amendments were so overwhelmingly popular that even Senate Democrats like Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Ben Nelson (Nebr.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Joe Manchin (W. Va.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), and Tim Kaine (Va.) voted to include them in the final bill — over the “strong objections” of President Obama.
Still, said retired Air Force Chaplain Ron Crews, “Isn’t it tragic that we have to have a special paragraph [in the law] that would insist on your First Amendment Rights that are clearly spelled out already? …That’s where we are.” Crews, along with Frank Gaffney of Center for Security Policy, Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch, Christian Robey of Media Research Center, Mark Trammell of Liberty Counsel Action, Tommy Sears of Center for Military Readiness, Ken Blackwell of Ohio Faith and Freedom Coalition, and the FRC team are ready to combat the Pentagon’s “no faith zone” — along with the 170,000 Americans who signed petitions calling on Secretary Chuck Hagel to shield our religious troops from harassment.
Click over to the coalition’s new website, MilitaryFreedom.org, to enlist in the fight. There, you can watch the video from today’s press conference and read our special publication, “A Clear and Present Danger: The Threat to Religious Liberty in the Military.” As a former Navy commander said recently, “You know the old saying that there are no atheists in foxholes? Well, God help us if all we have in foxholes are atheists.”