The Establishment of a New Religion

June 17, 2015

Today in The Hill blog, Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty Executive Director Ron Crews drills down on the "almost cult-like determination to advance the hyper-homosexualization of the military," which "is tearing apart the good order and discipline which holds our armed forces together."

He aptly notes that "since the repeal of the so-called 'don't ask, don't tell' policy, homosexual advocacy has become a sort of 'religious' force, and the American military gives it preferential treatment to established faiths in violation of its very own regulations."

No one would be accused of lacking logic or common sense if they claimed it appears the military (indeed, our executive branch at large) is "establishing" a State orthodoxy, er, a State "religion."

The Establishment Clause is cited all the time for all sorts of perceived "violations," but one of the things it actually was meant to prohibit was the federal government designating a set of religious beliefs to be the only "approved" beliefs, and using those to discriminate against people whose beliefs don't line up.

Indeed, the Supreme Court, in ruling on the Establishment Clause in West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, has stated: "If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us."

Is it too much of a stretch to see that the government is doing that very thing here (indeed, is trying to carve out an "exception") in the context of requiring certain beliefs about homosexuality?

As Crews notes, Army Regulation 360-1, Section 3.2(a) states, "Army participation must not selectively benefit (or appear to benefit) any person, group, or corporation (whether profit or nonprofit); religion, sect, religious or sectarian group, or quasi-religious or ideological movement; fraternal organization; political organization; or commercial venture."

Yet "[s]ince the day that the commander in chief insisted on the repeal of the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy, the movement to advance homosexual legal and social demands within the military has taken on every hallmark of a 'quasi-religious or ideological movement.' It is by definition at least an ideological movement. But, in addition, it evangelizes, promises benefits to those who believe 'the right view,' and decrees punishment for those whose consciences don't fall in line."

This certainly seems like establishing an orthodoxy to me.

This is to say nothing of the Constitution's prohibition on religious tests being "required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." How is the spirit of this clause not violated here? Religious beliefs are often framed broadly under constitutional law, and beliefs driving one's ultimate life choices and going to the core of one's being sometimes qualify as religious. Given this fact, if one's beliefs in LGBT promotion are the significant driver of one's life choices, and these beliefs gain the approval of government "elites" (while rejection of such beliefs results in their disapproval), how is the religious test clause not implicated in this scenario?

It would seem the military (and the executive branch of the federal government) has some answering to do here.