Family Research Council

September 09, 2013 - Monday

Monk Breaks Silence on Air Force Persecution

The military can order its troops to do a lot of things -- but insisting they hold a certain worldview is not one of them. Unfortunately for Senior Master Sergeant Phillip Monk, his commanding officer never got that memo. Now, after a clash of opinions on marriage, the lesbian major is on a personal mission to destroy Monk's career.

It started this summer when Monk was brought into an internal dispute over a class at Lackland Air Force Base. His superior (and open homosexual) Major Elisa Valenzuela was irate that a trainer suggested that same-sex "marriage" was a divisive issue that could have devastating effects on America. When Valenzuela caught wind of the comments, she solicited Monk's advice on how to punish the trainer. He suggested that they use the moment as an opportunity to teach tolerance for all opinions.

That infuriated Valenzuela, who demanded to know Monk's stance on marriage (after first warning him that supporting homosexual "marriage" is "official military policy.) He refused to answer, explaining to her that if he did, there would surely be consequences.

Turns out, he was right. After 19 years of spotless service, Monk was relieved of his duties. In an interview with Fox News's Todd Starnes, Monk was almost speechless. "I was essentially fired for not validating my commander's position [regarding] homosexuality," he said. But the persecution didn't end there. With just one year left to retirement, Monk thought about accepting the penalty and moving on -- but at a Bible study with his sons, he felt convicted to fight for truth. "They are looking at me," he told Starnes about his kids, and he wants his boys to see "a man who stands for integrity."

As last week unfolded, it became painfully obvious that Monk's stand would be a difficult one. At what was supposed to be a routine meeting with his Liberty Institute attorneys, Air Force representatives shocked everyone by reading Monk his Miranda rights and informing him that he was now the subject of a criminal investigation. They claim Monk made "false public statements" to Fox News -- specifically that he claimed he was being targeted because of his Christian beliefs.

Of course, as FRC's Ken Klukowski points out, that's absolutely ridiculous. Telling your personal story to the media is not "an official public statement." "I was stunned," he said. "[I] immediately felt that this was retaliation against me for coming forward with my religious discrimination complaint." So much for the Pentagon's insistence that they would never court-martial service members for their faith!

Two years removed from the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" debate (which the Pentagon vowed would have no effect on the military's treatment of marriage), our service members are being told that there's no longer a place in the service for people who agree with the majority of Americans (and 37 states) on marriage -- or worse, prosecuted for holding beliefs that, until recently, even President Obama shared!

Another brother in arms, Air National Guardsman Layne Wilson, understands Monk's frustrations. He was punished for objecting to a same-sex "wedding" at West Point when the Defense of Marriage Act still applied. Now, like Monk, he's refusing to take the persecution sitting down. He's filed a lawsuit against the Air Force for religious discrimination.

At a time when the Air Force is defending drag queen acts on military installations, Christians deserve the same kind of tolerance. When the cross-dressing show came under fire, Brigadier General Tammy Smith, the first openly gay general, said, "I would ask you to also give space to people to be authentically who they are." Shouldn't the same apply to Christians? In the Obama military, anyone can live proudly and openly -- unless they're believers.

Congressman Randy Forbes is trying to change that by drawing attention to this wave of attacks on religious liberty. Tonight, in a special order on the House floor, Rep. Forbes will highlight the threats to America's First Freedom and ask if sacrificing religious liberty is the new price of citizenship. Join Rep. Forbes, Master Sergeant Monk, and everyone else on the front lines of this debate by helping us reach 50,000 signatures on FRC's latest petition on religious liberty.

Capitol Gains for Abortion Coverage?

Just how bad is the President's health care law? Even the people who voted for it don't want it. For months, leaders have been trying to wiggle out of the coverage they're required to join as part of ObamaCare. Now that their goal seems less and less likely, the Obama administration is trying to help them bypass another part of the law: the abortion funding ban. Last month, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) -- the government's HR department -- tried to slip in a rule about the health insurance for congressional staff and members that would allow taxpayer-funded abortion in violation of current law. Hoping no one would notice, OPM is trying to use its authority over the Federal Employee Health Benefit program (FEHBP) to contribute premium support to plans offered on the state exchanges that cover elective abortion.

Congressman Chris Smith (R-N.J.), who authored the original funding ban, and more than 80 other members fired off a letter to OPM reminding them about the ban on any expenses used in connection with a health plan that "provides benefits or coverage for abortion." They asked agency officials to write back by this Thursday outlining the steps they're taking to avoid breaking the law. As our allies at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops also told OPM, "The administration cannot have it both ways." FRC submitted public comment on the rule -- and you can too! OPM is asking people to weigh in with comments by today. Click here to add your voice to the "abortion isn't health care" cry!

** On Monday's edition of "Washington Watch with Tony Perkins," Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) joins us to talk about the ongoing attack on religious liberty within our military and his thoughts on what action we may take in Syria. Ken Klukowski will also be on the show to discuss the possible court marital Sgt. Phillip Monk faces for standing strong in his Christian faith. Also, Gen. Boykin will stop by to give his thoughts on Syrian President Bashar Assad's recent statements about a possible retaliation if the U.S. attacks Syria.


Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

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