Banned of Brothers
It may be the National Day of Prayer, but there are probably scores of military personnel wondering if they can even celebrate it. After this week's news, no one could blame our troops for being extra cautious about how and where they exercise their faith. At military installations across the country, servicemen and women are still trying to recover from the shock that sharing the Gospel could land them in military court.
FRC helped break the story about the Pentagon's new policy, which rocketed to the top of the Drudge Report and led to the fastest growing petition in our organization's history. Less than 72 hours after the Defense Department confirmed that it would court martial troops for proselytizing, more than 120,000 people flooded our website demanding that Secretary Chuck Hagel intervene. The Pentagon--which was slow to respond before--was suddenly interested in talking. Frustrated that their meeting with an anti-Christian hatemonger had been leaked to the press, they wanted to reassure us that they had not--as the Washington Post reported--promised to crack down on the witness of U.S. troops.
According to Sally Quinn, Defense officials had not only met with Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, but published an entire Air Force manual on religious protocol at his request. Now, either Mikey is lying or the Pentagon is backpedaling, because this morning, Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen released another statement claiming to have made "reasonable accommodations" for religious practice and that "service members can share their faith (evangelize), but must not force unwanted, intrusive attempts to convert others of any faith or no faith to one's beliefs (proselytization)."
Of course, no one should be coerced, but it all hinges on how the DOD defines "unwanted" and "intrusive." Judging by Weinstein, who views us as "fundamentalist Christian monsters of human degradation," any mention of religious testimony would be intolerable. Meanwhile, where were those "religious accommodations" when the Air Force disinvited me from a prayer breakfast at Andrews Air Force Base? Or when officers stripped "God" from the Rapid Capabilities motto and purged Bibles from Air Force Inn checklists? Where was the Air Force's encouragement to "confidently practice your own beliefs" when cadets were ordered to stop promoting charities for needy kids or when it suspended a 20-year-old class on "Just War Theory" because it included a few Bible verses?
While we appreciate the DOD's public assurances, they mean nothing until the Pentagon and the Air Force take specific steps to roll back the climate of religious hostility in our military--and that includes disavowing extremists like Mikey Weinstein. For too long, the DOD has tested the limits of political correctness, turning a policy of religious neutrality into an excuse for religious hostility. It's time for the Pentagon to show the American people who it stands with: Mikey Weinstein or our brave men and women in uniform? If the latter, then it's time they ensured our troops can exercise the very rights they protect.
** To give you some idea of the company Mikey Weinstein keeps, Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is one of the groups he cites in his Huffington Post rant. Check out this great article on SPLC's ties to terrorism just published by The American Spectator. Jeffrey Lord pulls back the curtain on the group tied to the shooting at FRC in a seven-page stunner that includes never-before seen statements from the FBI, Floyd Corkins, and our own Leo Johnson.
If My People, Who Are Called by My Name
While the Mikey Weinsteins of the world may be doing everything they can to take God out of our culture, they can't take Him off our calendars. Every year on this date, America pauses to acknowledge that we are still one nation under God. We stop to remember that no government of man or ruling from the courts is more capable of changing this nation than millions of people on their knees in prayer. Every day, newspaper headlines remind us how much we need Jesus. But the Lord is faithful--He hears and answers prayer. So today, join millions of people all across America who are asking God to heal our land. Ask for His guidance in the lives of our President and his family. Ask Him to bless our leaders in Congress and the Supreme Court with wisdom. But most importantly, ask the Lord to draw the hearts of the people in America into a personal relationship with Him.
How can we make a Christian nation? ...Legislation cannot do it, if legislation would. Resolves of majorities, in caucus or in Congress, in towns or by states, or even unanimous votes, is not the way to affect it. The simple and sole process is for each person privately to resolve... [to] legislate over their own hearts... these can add a stone, as truly as the mightiest statesman or the loudest demagogue, to build up the national temple to the Lord. O what it is ye may achieve! --Rev. Mellish Irving Motte
Sebelius Practices Some Shelf-Control
For most abortion groups, rejection is an unfamiliar feeling under this President. After five years of getting their way with the Obama administration, HHS put its foot down on a policy that the President's best pals are lobbying for. Caught between the FDA's decision on Plan B yesterday and Judge Edward Korman's deadline for stocking the pills this Saturday, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is finally stepping back into the fight. With the help of the Justice Department, HHS is appealing the ruling making the morning-after pill available without a prescription to girls as young as 11. The announcement came as a relief to parents, who were probably surprised to see this White House exercise any kind of restraint in the "contraception" debate. As part of its suit in the 2nd Circuit Court, HHS will argue that Korman didn't have the authority to overturn the agency's policy.
We applaud the administration for listening to groups like FRC and refusing to relax its standards on Plan B. Regardless of what Planned Parenthood says, this kind of "convenience" is not in the best interest of girls' health. Just as HHS recognized the carelessness of Judge Korman's ruling, we urge them to be just as cautious about the FDA's newest recommendation, which would let girls' as young as 15 buy the drug right off the shelves-without so much as a pharmacists' consult. The reality is, we shouldn't be lining store shelves with pills packed with four times the hormones of a standard birth control dose if the FDA hasn't conducted a single study on the side effects for teens. Allowing it over the counter puts teens at risk for sexually transmitted diseases, undermines parents' rights, and promotes a drug that may act as an abortifacient, destroying young life. Surely the President, who has two girls of his own, would agree.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.