Defending our Defenders
You know that old saying, "Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, and three times is a pattern?" Well, when it happens over a dozen times, it's a scandal -- especially when it's happening in our military. Almost every week, we're reading about a new incident of religious hostility in the ranks, as anti-Christian bullies punish people in uniform for even the smallest expressions of faith. A large part of the problem is the Pentagon's own policy on faith, which is so undefined that outside extremists are using the confusion to their advantage. While the Defense Department muddles through the "do's" and "don'ts," groups like the Military Religious Freedom Foundation are conducting one sortie after another on religious freedom in the military.
Congressman John Fleming (R-La.), recognizing the sacrifices our military makes to protect our freedoms, is fighting back on behalf of those in uniform by offering an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would safeguard the troops' religious liberties. In an interview with Fox News's Todd Starnes, Dr. Fleming rattled off a series of the most outrageous attacks against our service men and women:
- When a serviceman expressed his religious position about homosexuality on a personal blog, he received a "severe and possibly career-ending reprimand."
- An enlisted service member was given a negative efficiency report for sending personal invitations to his promotion party, in which he said he would be serving Chick-fil-A sandwiches "in honor of the Defense of Marriage Act."
- A senior military official at Fort Campbell sent out a lengthy email instructing officers to recognize "the religious right in America" as a "domestic hate group," (akin to the KKK and Neo-Nazis) because of its opposition to homosexual behavior.
- An Air Force officer was told to remove a Bible from his desk because "it might offend someone." The officer had kept the Bible on the desk for 18 years.
- A chaplain was relieved of his command over a military chapel because he refused to deviate from federal marriage law and allow same-sex "weddings" on base.
- An enlisted service member was threatened and denied promotion by a senior NCO for expressing -- during a personal conversation -- his support of natural marriage.
- Last month, Coast Guard Rear Admiral William Lee told a National Day of Prayer audience that religious liberty was being threatened by Pentagon lawyers and service members are being told to hide their faith in Christ. "Leaders like myself," he said, "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."
Dr. Fleming's amendment clarifies the vagueness that currently exists in the military's guidelines on faith. In spite of every Democrat on the House Armed Services voting against it, the language was accepted. Next up? A vote on the full floor --and a debate in Harry Reid's Senate, where there's less support for protecting the faith of our men and women in uniform. Please contact your representative and both your senators and encourage them to protect our fighting men and women just as much as they protect us!
Down Under Study Is Downright Misleading
Headlines are full of a new Australian "interim report" that studied kids with homosexual parents -- one that reportedly shows "children of same-sex couples thriving." Not surprisingly, the motivation for the research may be more political than academic. Just last year, the Australian Parliament rejected the redefinition of marriage -- but the pressure from liberals is still on.
Homosexual activists around the world are desperate to counter the "gold-standard" research released last year by University of Texas sociologist Dr. Mark Regnerus. His study, which surveyed upwards of 5,000 people, showed that children with a parent who had a homosexual relationship suffered serious deficits on a wide range of outcomes. (FRC's Peter Sprigg wrote an analysis and detailed summary of the Regnerus research.) Regnerus responded to the reports out of Australia, criticizing it for its methodological weaknesses. Unlike Regnerus's survey, the Australian authors refused to use a random sample and instead recruited participants at local gay and lesbian groups.
"Simply put," Regnerus says, "its participants are likely very aware of the political import of the study topic, and an unknown number of them probably signed up for that very reason. As a result, I'm just not sure I trust their self-reports, which may be subject to considerable 'social desirability bias,' or the tendency to portray oneself on surveys as better than one actually is."
Also, this study is not limited to kids raised by same-sex "couples" -- it's a study of "children... with at least one parent who self identifies as being same-sex attracted." Ironically, one of the chief criticisms of Regnerus was that his subjects were not necessarily raised by same-sex couples (a point he made clear). If that limited the relevance of Regnerus's research to the debate over the same-sex "marriage," as critics claimed, then surely the same is true of the Australian study.
Caps and Gowns--or Caps and Groans?
It's become a common scene at American graduations: students pray, and people cheer! The latest example comes from an aptly named school in Pickens County, South Carolina -- Liberty High. As has been the case in small towns around the country, the stage was set by The Freedom from Religion Foundation, which sent a threatening letter to the county school board in February. They warned that student-led prayer at monthly board meetings would result in legal action. According to the Christian Post, the school board was intimidated enough to eliminate prayer at graduation ceremonies and replace it with a "moment of silence," for fear atheist groups would sue.
Enter valedictorian Roy Costner IV, stage right. During last weekend's ceremony, Costner ripped up his pre-approved speech, gave thanks to God for Christian parents, and then recited the Lord's Prayer to cheers and applause from the audience. The Freedom from Religion Foundation descended from their perch with the full weight of their anti-religious wrath, claiming that the school district was somehow responsible for Costner's rebellious behavior.
"The valedictorian who so insensitively inflicted Christian prayer on a captive audience at a secular graduation ceremony, is a product of a school district which itself set an unconstitutional example by hosting school board prayer," FFRF co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor said in a prepared statement. To help make her case, Gaylor lists of string of abuses by the school district -- among them: the description of a new head football coach as a "Christian." To the chagrin of the atheists, the school district says it has no plans to take action against Costner for exercising his freedom of speech and religion.
My question is: when will the adults show the same courage as these young people, who are saying no to repression by this radical minority? The response of the audiences in every one of these incidents is very telling. They all stand and applaud like a repressed people yearning to breath free. It's time for all of us to breath free!
** If you're in the Baton Rouge area, stop by Greenwell Baptist Church this Sunday. I'll be preaching the message in the 8:15 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. services. Our five-week sermon series is called: Life by God's Design. This week's message is "Unity in the Church." Worship with us at 19421 Greenwell Springs Road, Greenwell Springs, Louisiana 70739!
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.