New Attacks Reyes the Stakes on Censorship
If President Eisenhower were alive today, the five-star general may be shocked to know that his own speeches are too offensive to be quoted in the military he used to command! Just when Americans thought they'd heard it all, an Alaskan military chaplain was taken to task for fulfilling the job description that most spiritual leaders (until recently) were hired to do: talk about faith. In a harmless post for his online website, "Chaplain's Corner," Lt. Col. Kenneth Reyes (USAF) of the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska wrote an inspirational piece called, "No Atheists in Foxholes: Chaplains Gave All in World War II."
The phrase, which President Eisenhower made famous in 1954, dates way back to the Japanese attack at Corregidor. Reyes had hoped to encourage his troops -- believers and non-believers -- with the brave story of the man who first coined the quote.
Turns out, the story only encouraged the attack of anti-faith zealots. Mikey Weinstein, whose own statements are fairly well-known ("Christian monsters of human degradation, marginalization, humiliation and tyranny"), organized a letter to Reyes's commanding officer, Col. Brian Duffy, demanding the chaplain be censored. Weinstein and Military Religious Freedom Foundation rep Blake Page blasted Reyes for his "redundant use of the bigoted, religious supremacist phrase, 'no atheists in foxholes,'" and accused the chaplain of "defil[ing] the dignity of service members." Of course, anyone who has actually read Reyes's column would understand how preposterous those charges are. Reyes never suggested that "there are no atheists in foxholes," he was merely tracing, in a very neutral way, the history of the well-known phrase -- a far cry from the "anti-secular diatribe" MRFF calls it. Reyes goes out of his way to include unbelievers in his piece, even suggesting that "faith" can mean different things to different people.
Nonetheless, his superior, Col. Duffy, snapped to attention and within five hours of Mikey's complaint ordered the article scrubbed from the chaplain's website. In his profuse apology to MRFF, he promises to keep a vigilant watch over his troops' speech. "We remain mindful of the governing instructions on this matter and will work to avoid reoccurrence." Not surprisingly, that didn't satisfy Weinstein, who are demanding a formal punishment for Reyes. "Faith-based hate is hate all the same," Page wrote. "Lt. Col. Reyes must be appropriately reprimanded."
For what -- doing his job? Engaging in constitutionally-protected speech? Like it or not, a chaplain's duties, by definition, are to offer prayer, spiritual guidance, and religious instruction. Whether Duffy punishes Reyes or not, the damage has already been done. As FRC's Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin told Fox News's Todd Starnes, chaplains across the military are already afraid of carrying out the most basic duties of their job. "In this case, a chaplain has been censored for expressing his beliefs about the role of faith in the lives of service members. ...Why do we have chaplains if they aren't allowed to fulfill that purpose?"
FRC's Ken Klukowski, whose piece on the controversy was picked up by Drudge Report, is confident that Weinstein's intolerance will backfire. Now that the House is on the verge of passing the Defense Department budget, the language inserted to protect troops' conscience and religious rights are one step closer to becoming law. "Reyes's story makes it more likely," Ken writes, "that Congress will stand its ground and fight to protect the religious liberty of [this chaplain] and countless others in the military."
Take action with over 160,000 other Americans by signing our petition to Defense Secretary Hagel, urging him to issue clear policies to protect the religious freedom of our troops.
Planned Parenthood Tees off the Gulf
Texas was right to secede -- from Planned Parenthood. The billion dollar operation finally admitted that its Gulf Coast affiliates have been defrauding the government for years in an elaborate scheme that overbilled Medicaid for services. Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic manager who is now a pro-life convert, blew the whistle on her former employer with the help of our friends at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).
In a legal settlement announced yesterday, Planned Parenthood has agreed to repay the $1.4 million it stole from taxpayers. ADF attorney Michael Norton talked about the great lengths Planned Parenthood went to falsify patient records, fudge accounting numbers, and submit bogus claims. "Americans deserve to know if their hard-earned tax money is being funneled to groups that are misusing it... These programs are designed to help the poor, but Planned Parenthood instead uses taxpayer dollars to pad its bottom line with little regard for the health of women."
Unfortunately, as we've reported over the past several months, the Texas scam is only part of Planned Parenthood's nationwide con game. Similar lawsuits have already been filed in Iowa and Washington State, where the organization has also swindled the government out of millions of dollars. So far, the revelations have done little to dent the President's relationship with the abortion giant. The federal government, meanwhile, has ample reason to defund the organization -- especially one so intent on extorting it! Congratulations to ADF and the courageous Abby Johnson for shining yet another spotlight on the dark and crooked world of Planned Parenthood.
San Antonio Spurs Anti-Christian Abuse
A controversial proposal in San Antonio may be the first step to banning Christians from public office! In a move that took locals completely by surprise, the city council is proposing a sweeping ordinance that would disqualify anyone who has ever "demonstrated a bias" from serving on local boards or commissions. The measure, which some have couched as an "updated non-discrimination" policy, suggests that "No person shall be appointed to a position if the city council finds that such person has, prior to such proposed appointment, engaged in discrimination or demonstrated a bias, by word or deed, against any person, group or organization on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, age, or disability."
Several Texas pastors are outraged by the measure, which seems to prohibit any religious or even nonbelieving conservatives from serving the city simply for holding a natural view of marriage and sexuality. At no point does the proposal define what a "bias" is, instead leaving it open to the subjective interpretation of the council. On top of barring those people from public service, the ordinance also outlaws city contracts with those deemed "intolerant" to the classes listed.
As FRC's Peter Sprigg points out, it seems to fly in the face of the Constitution that San Antonio could oppose a person on the grounds of "prior discriminatory acts." What if a person shows remorse for inappropriate statements (which, regardless of whether they're politically correct, are still protected by the First Amendment's freedom of speech) or disavowed past actions? This ordinance seems to leave no room for changing attitudes or opinions. What's more, it's ironic that the council would discourage discrimination on the basis of "religion" -- only to actively discriminate against those who let that same religion inform their beliefs on sexuality!
Though it's the next logical step after labeling moral beliefs "hate," this is certainly new territory in the war on Christianity in America. Fortunately, pastors in the area aren't about to let San Antonio become the place where we remember religious freedom alongside the Alamo!
** CORRECTION: In Monday's Update, we mistakenly attributed a Justice William H. Rehnquist quote to the President Obama's outrageous judicial nominee, Cornelia Pillard. She did not say that "mutually reinforcing stereotypes" of mothers "create a self-fulfilling cycle of discrimination." Rehnquist said that in a case that Pillard litigated. But don't worry. The President's nominee made plenty of other statements backing up her pro-abortion and feminist extremism.
*** How controversial is the new fetal pain bill in Texas? Not very, FRC's Cathy Ruse explains. Check out her new column in the Daily Caller, "Most Europeans -- and Americans -- Agree with Texas Abortion Law."
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.