Guard Gives Kids' Camp the Boot
Whether it's erasing a Bible verse on a white board or the banning of pocket-sized Gideon Bibles from an Air Force base, our military service members, under the Obama administration, have experienced an unprecedented rise in the suppression of their religious speech. Members of the Missouri National Guard are now finding out that even associating with church members is enough to trigger a secularist clampdown. Last week, the boys and girls of Bible Baptist Church in Carthage, Missouri were planning to salute the guardsmen at the church's Vacation Bible School. You can probably guess what happened next. Fox News' Todd Starnes talked to the pastor who told him, "We were going to thank them for protecting our religious liberty," said Pastor Hogan. "It was more of a promotion for the military -- to show the kids what the military does." But at the last minute, the National Guard canceled the visit, blamed federal policy and told the pastor that "if the National Guard had assets on church property it would look like the National Guard is sponsoring the Baptist religion."
It was only last month when President Obama authorized an eight-member military honor guard to march alongside half-clothed people and transvestites in Washington D.C.'s gay pride parade. These honor guards are typically reserved for the President, Congress, and other state functions. While the Pentagon, under this administration, apparently is willing to bend the rules for a gay pride parade that salutes a different flag, they drop the hammer down on a country church planning to hold a patriotic celebration of the military. Several guard members told Todd Starnes that they were "ashamed and embarrassed" for what happened. One asked, "It makes me wonder what I'm actually fighting for.... I honestly never thought I'd see the day that this would happen in my hometown." Sadly, that day is here, but we must not lose heart. The Armed Forces of the United States have defended our nation for well over two and a quarter centuries. Now it's our turn to stand up for their right to exercise the very freedoms that they fight to defend. Please call the National Guard Bureau at (703) 607-2584 or send an email respectfully voicing your objection to this discriminatory act.
Virginia Marriage Ruling Is Not for Lovers of the Constitution
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit yesterday became the second federal appeals court to declare that a state (in this case, Virginia) defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman violates the U.S. Constitution. The three-judge panel divided 2-1, with the majority declaring that "the fundamental right to marry encompasses the right to same-sex marriage."
Unfortunately, the majority is clearly and obviously wrong on this point, which dissenting Judge Paul V. Niemeyer described as mere "linguistic manipulation." As Niemeyer pointed out, the Supreme Court precedent of Washington v. Glucksberg (a 1997 case in which the Court rejected a "right" to assisted suicide) lays out a specific analysis which must be undertaken before a new "fundamental right" can be declared. It requires a careful description of the asserted right -- which in this case is clearly the right to marry a person of the same sex. It then requires a demonstration that this specific "right" is "deeply rooted in this Nation's history and tradition." Since "same-sex marriage" has only existed in the U.S. for ten years (and in more than one state for only six), it does not even come close to meeting that standard.
Judge Niemeyer also faults the majority for "failing to explain, for example, why this broad right to marry, as the majority defines it, does not also encompass the 'right' of a father to marry his daughter or the 'right' of any person to marry multiple partners." We must hope that the Supreme Court has more logic -- and respect for its own precedents -- when this or a similar case reaches them.
Service worth Celebrating
Today marks the 239th birthday of the Army Chaplain Corps. On July 29, 1775, the Second Continental Congress authorized one chaplain for each regiment of the Continental Army, with pay equaling that of a captain. Their action was in response to Gen. George Washington's urgent request for chaplains to help supply the spiritual needs of his soldiers during our War for Independence. Since their inception, approximately 25,000 Army Chaplains have served as religious and spiritual leaders for 25 million soldiers and their families. Currently, over 2,900 Chaplains are serving the active and reserve Army representing over 130 different religious organizations.
Always present with their soldiers in war and in peace, Army Chaplains have served in more than 270 major wars and combat engagements. Nearly 300 Army Chaplains have laid down their lives in battle. Six have been awarded the Medal of Honor, living up the Chaplain Corps motto, Pro Deo Et Patria, which means "For God and Country." Of course, there is the long standing tradition of Chaplains serving all the branches of the military: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard.
As Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), himself an Air Force Reserve Chaplain, and Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), founder and co-chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, point out in their Washington Times op-ed: "Military chaplains fill a crucial religious need that exists uniquely in the realm of military service -- a need that is imperative to the well-being and operational readiness of the troops." Indeed, they all offer prayers for the hurting, encouragement for the wavering, solace to the suffering, and hope for the dying. Their service is something worth celebrating.
** Join us tomorrow at noon for an important panel discussion, "Common Core: Uncommon Dilemma." We will be hosting some of the finest minds in American education as they discuss their concerns about this emerging federal program and its impact on states and families nationwide.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.