Taking the Military at Faith Value
There may not be a lot of atheists in foxholes, but there certainly are a lot of quiet Christians these days. Under an administration that views religion as more of a liability than an asset, more of our troops are taking the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" approach to faith. The climate of intimidation that began in the Air Force is bleeding over into every branch -- leading even military chaplains to wonder about their security in referencing a Bible that some airmen aren't even allowed to leave on their desks. In a Pentagon where evangelical Christians are viewed by some as "extremists," the pressure to impose a secular culture on our nation's military has intensified enormously during President Obama's time as commander-in-chief. His administration, whose primary goal seems to be opposing Americans' conscience rights, is continuing that attack on a military culture defined by a long tradition of faith.
Today, FRC and our allies are saying "not on our watch." Because members of the military are not free to challenges the President's policies, we are vowing to do it for them. At a Capitol Hill press conference, we announced the formation of a coalition dedicated to protecting the freedom of the men and women who guard ours. Surrounded by conservative partners and congressmen like Reps. John Fleming (R-La.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), and Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) -- many of us are military veterans ourselves -- pledged not to be silent or indifferent to these attacks on religious liberty.
As part of this new effort, FRC released a special report documenting the waves of hostility toward religious expression in the military. Unfortunately, the examples we cite are only a snapshot of the calculated push to scrub faith from our troops by threatening punishment or, worse, career-ending action. Based on the calls and confidential information we've received, this is only a small sample of the outrages that have been made public. "We must," said FRC's Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, "do all we can to ensure that our service members have the right to practice the very freedoms that they risk their lives to defend."
For the last several months, FRC has tried to do exactly that, exposing the situation in the media and working with members of Congress to insert language into the Defense Authorization bill that would secure the rights of our military -- not only to have faith, but to openly act on it. Rep. Fleming's conscience rights measure sailed through the House with bipartisan support. In fact, the amendments were so overwhelmingly popular that even Senate Democrats like Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Ben Nelson (Nebr.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Joe Manchin (W. Va.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), and Tim Kaine (Va.) voted to include them in the final bill -- over the "strong objections" of President Obama.
Still, said retired Air Force Chaplain Ron Crews, "Isn't it tragic that we have to have a special paragraph [in the law] that would insist on your First Amendment Rights that are clearly spelled out already? ...That's where we are." Crews, along with Frank Gaffney of Center for Security Policy, Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch, Christian Robey of Media Research Center, Mark Trammell of Liberty Counsel Action, Tommy Sears of Center for Military Readiness, Ken Blackwell of Ohio Faith and Freedom Coalition, and the FRC team are ready to combat the Pentagon's "no faith zone" -- along with the 170,000 Americans who signed petitions calling on Secretary Chuck Hagel to shield our religious troops from harassment.
Click over to the coalition's new website, MilitaryFreedom.org, to enlist in the fight. There, you can watch the video from today's press conference and read our special publication, "A Clear and Present Danger: The Threat to Religious Liberty in the Military." As a former Navy commander said recently, "You know the old saying that there are no atheists in foxholes? Well, God help us if all we have in foxholes are atheists."
PolitiFarce? Media 'Fact-Checker' Rejects Reality
Apparently, CBS's Bob Schieffer isn't the only reporter surprised to hear the fallout from same-sex "marriage" laws. The self-anointed arbiters of truth, PolitiFact, received enough inquiries about my statements on "Face the Nation" that its reporter, Amy Sherman, came calling. She wanted to see documentation of the charges leveled against business owners who refused to participate in same-sex "weddings" because of their moral or religious objections.
As I told Bob on set, "We're already seeing bakers and florists and photographers forced to participate in same-sex 'marriages' under threat of law and, in some cases, even jail... [W]e're seeing in Washington State, Colorado, and some of the other states that have these anti-discrimination statutes that are being imposed that when a same-sex couple comes and says, 'I want you to take pictures of my wedding or I want you to bake a cake.' And they say, 'Look my religious convictions will not allow me to participate in that,' they're literally being sued by the government -- and they've even been adjudicated in such places as New Mexico. So we're going to see a loss of religious freedom. There is no question about it. It's already happening."
Sherman, even after talking to a series of attorneys, concluded -- in an embarrassing avoidance of the facts -- that my comments were only "half-true." Apparently, Sherman's outfit is not only the authority on facts -- but the inventor of them! When Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakes was sued (one of the 13 U.S. business owners we cited who have been harassed or charged) by the Colorado State Attorney General, the law specifically stated that his penalty for violating the "public accommodation" policy could be either hundreds of dollars in fines or up to a year in jail.
In the midst of the Masterpiece controversy, Colorado officials realized what a PR disaster it would be when people found out Jack could be sent to jail for supporting a position on marriage that a majority of Americans share. Immediately, the state senator who sponsored the "anti-discrimination" law raced to repeal to the jail provision, recognizing, as FRC's Ken Klukowski does, that "the American people would recoil in horror at the thought of well-meaning citizens being thrown into jail for refusing to participate in a form of 'marriage' that their personal faith doesn't recognize." That said, the Colorado repeal doesn't officially take effect until August -- meaning that Phillips, who was charged in 2012, could still be threatened with a misdemeanor that includes a jail sentence. There's nothing "half-true" about that reality for Jack and his family.
Unfortunately, the media, in a desperate attempt to downplay the persecution Americans will face for opposing same-sex "marriage," is resorting to lies from its own "fact-checkers." They understand, as we do, that it's harder to vilify someone when you see them suffering for living out their faith.
And for dozens of men and women, that suffering is taking place in the form of more than jail time. For them, the nightmare is already here in the form of thousands of dollars in fines, lawsuits, public humiliation, boycotts of their businesses, death threats, and vandalism of their property. This is the real intolerance. And one day, no amount of shoddy journalism will be able to hide it.
FRC Books a Cruz in DC!
Some politicians are afraid to touch the issue of marriage -- even if they agree with us. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) isn't one of them. The conservative superstar, who went to bat for the millions of Americans disappointed by the Supreme Court's rulings on marriage, will be one of the many pro-family heroes at FRC Action's Values Voter Summit this fall. He'll be joined by a who's who of conservatives like Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sen. Rick Santorum, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Sen. Jim DeMint, Lila Rose, Star Parker, FRC Action's own Josh Duggar (and family), and by other invited speakers like Govs. Bobby Jindal (R-La.), Mike Pence (R-Ind.), and Rick Perry (R-Texas), Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Dr. Bill Bennett, Dr. Ben Carson, Kirk Cameron, Super Bowl champion Matt Birk, and more.
So what are you waiting for? Register today to spend October 11-13 in Washington, D.C. and enjoy a special movie screening, celebrity book signings, jam-packed exhibit hall, exciting breakout sessions, a student mixer, and the Faith and Freedom Gala dinner! Tickets for the event are just $99 for adults and free scholarships are available for students! Click here or call 877-372-2808 to reserve your seat for what CNN has called "One of the Top 10 Political Events of the Year."
** To watch this morning's religious liberty press conference, check out the video below...
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.