Straighten up and Fry Right!
Chicken may not be bad for your health, but it's certainly hazardous to your military career. An Army Master Sergeant found that out the hard way when he tried to celebrate his August promotion by serving Chick-fil-A. The party, which happened to coincide with last summer's Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, was a private event -- paid for out of the soldier's own pocket. Still, his commanding officers seemed to take issue with the invitations, which read, "In honor of my promotion and in honor of the Defense of Marriage Act, I'm serving Chick-fil-A sandwiches at my promotion party." Of course, the DOMA reference was a hat tip to Chick-fil-A owner Dan Cathy, who became the center of a national firestorm when he refused to back down from the biblical definition of marriage.
Shortly after the Master Sergeant's party, Fox News's Todd Starnes reports, he was shocked to receive a letter of reprimand, followed by a negative efficiency report. As anyone in the military knows, a letter like that can effectively end a soldier's career -- regardless of the number of years he's served. Stunned, the soldier contacted the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty for help. Ron Crews, who heads up the organization, explained that the Army initially talked about bringing "judicial punishment" against the man but decided to investigate first to see if he had "violated any other policy."
Today, we're learning even more about the controversy, including the fact that his superiors warned him to stop reading conservative books, which is the very definition of viewpoint discrimination. According to Starnes, there is some evidence that suggests the soldier was tweeting anti-Obama messages -- which, if true, would certainly cross the line of what is acceptable speech for a member of the military.
Still, the irony of the Chick-fil-a incident is that this Sergeant wasn't advocating for a controversial policy proposal; he was celebrating the law. And here's the rub: this soldier showed more respect for it than his own commander-in-chief, who refused to uphold DOMA even though the Constitution demands it. Imagine being a service member in today's military, trying to navigate the double standards. On one hand, it's appropriate to march in gay pride parades -- in uniform -- but on the other, it's unacceptable to voice support for federal law.
Fortunately, Congress is as frustrated with the hypocrisy as the rest of us. Yesterday, thanks a marathon mark-up on the Defense Authorization bill, sleepy members didn't make it home until 2 a.m.-- in part because they were so intent on passing a series of religious protections. Rep. John Fleming (R-La.), the author of one such amendment, urged his colleagues to help end the wave of anti-Christian attacks.
"The men and women who put their lives on the line to defend our freedoms should not have their own religious freedom jeopardized during their military service," he said. "[T]roubling reports indicate that the military may be focused only on protecting beliefs of service members and not the exercise or expression of those beliefs. My amendment is necessary to ensure that men and women of faith will not be discriminated against in the Armed Forces, and will be free to exercise their religious beliefs." By a 33-26 vote, the Committee gave the green light to Fleming's measure, which stops the Pentagon from restricting religious speech -- except in cases of "military necessity."
Congressman Walter Jones (R-N.C.) added another layer of protection by introducing (and later passing) language that allows chaplains to pray "in Jesus's name." The only faith-related amendment that failed was Rep. Robert Andrews's (D-N.J.), which would have created a special chapter of "atheist chaplains." Apparently, members thought the idea was as inane as the rest of us and killed it by a 43-18 vote.
Using One Step to Side Step the Issues
The courts are often happy to legislate from the bench -- and now it looks like they're ready to parent from it too. Yesterday, the Second Circuit Court made short work of the Obama administration's appeal on Plan B and ordered the FDA to get to work making a generic version of the morning-after pill available on shelves to girls as young as 11 or 12 without a prescription.
In a bizarre twist, the New York-based judges kept the age restrictions on the one-pill version of the drug and lifted the ban on the older two-pill pack, even though the two versions are the same chemically. The decision comes just weeks after Secretary Kathleen Sebelius agreed to fight a lower court ruling, which struck down the rules on Plan B One Step sales. Although the Court says it will expedite a hearing in the larger case, it's possible that the pills will be available over-the-counter before this phase of litigation is over.
Obviously, FRC's concern is the same as HHS's: the safety of young girls and the rights of parents to be involved in their children's medical decisions. For now, the Justice Department is considering its next move -- which we hope will include fighting this irresponsible decision all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary.
Getting Some Church into the Pew!
In the marriage debate, perception is just as important as reality. That might explain why liberal activists keep harping this idea of "inevitability." When they can't move the needle of public opinion any farther, the media tries to resign America to the fact that it's only a matter of time until everyone conforms. The goal is to make same-sex "marriage" seem so unavoidable that voters stop fighting it -- turning the illusion of support into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
With voters still deadlocked over the issue, liberals are trying to wear down the other side by dooming it to failure. One way they've managed to keep the drumbeat going is by commissioning more polling on the subject. It's a brilliant strategy by the Left, which uses surveys -- not as gauges of public opinion -- but as a propaganda tool. Suddenly, the media is full of new headlines that would alienate anyone from fighting the culture shift.
Today, Pew Research Center did its part to dispirit supporters of natural marriage by insisting that 72% of Americans believe same-sex "marriage" is inevitable (including 85% of same-sex "marriage" supporters and 59% of natural marriage proponents). Apparently, the folks at Pew didn't survey anyone in Illinois. Advocates of same-sex "marriage" thought victory in the President's home state was "inevitable" too -- until the churches got involved.
The reality is, same-sex "marriage" is only as inevitable as we make it. If Christians play into the media's hands and adopt this defeatist attitude, then the Left is right: It is helpless. But if believers rediscover the power of the truth, they can do more than stop the dissolution of marriage (like they did in Illinois), they can "turn the world upside down" (Acts 17:6).
** Tune in to Fox News Business's "Lou Dobbs Tonight" at 7:35 p.m. (EDT) to hear my take on the myriad of IRS scandals.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.