Your help is needed in correcting the liberal bias of the Baton Rouge Advocate. In my nearly 20 years of public life I have rarely responded to the Advocate's oftentimes shoddy reporting of social and moral issues. However, on this occasion the outcome of misinforming the public on this important issue could do irreparable damage to our fundamental freedoms.
Here is the action that is needed:
1) Read the information below.
2) Email the Advocate and ask them to fairly and accurately report on the threats to religious freedom in our military and our nation.
3) Consider writing your own letter to the editor to be published in the Advocate.
4) Please speak to your family and friends about the threat to religious freedom in our military and our nation as a whole.
In question is a recent article entitled "Fleming and Perkins claim religious threats in military." Baton Rouge Advocate reporter Jordan Blum covered a press conference in which Congressman John Fleming and I participated. At this news conference we released a report (which can be found at www.militaryfreedom.org) detailing the growing number of incidents of hostility toward the free exercise of religion in the U.S. military. Blum chose to allow another liberal paper, the Tampa Bay Times, to do his research for him. The Times attempts to be both player and referee with their PolitiFact, which almost always calls statements of conservatives into question.
On the issue of religious freedom in the military both PolitiFact and Blum got it wrong. PolitiFact had deemed "mostly false" the concern that "the federal government has taken the separation of church and state too far and is now keeping military members from promoting their Christian beliefs."
Because nothing is more important than our First Freedom, the freedom of religion, I responded to Blum's article with a letter to the editor explaining how PolitiFact makes the mistake of concluding that there is nothing problematic with the Pentagon's recent confusing statements that service members are permitted to "evangelize" but not "proselytize." On May 2, the Air Force added to the confusion when it stated, "Air Force members are free to express their personal religious beliefs as long as it does not make others uncomfortable."
PolitiFact may not be concerned with these statements, but those directly impacted by these policies have a different view. And they are the nation's soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. Here are just a few of the troubling incidents that have recently occurred:
- Air Force personnel had been told that they might express their beliefs as long as they do not "make others uncomfortable." This rule led to an officer being asked to remove a copy of the Bible from his desk. According to the Fox News report the "officer was told he could no longer keep a Bible on his desk because it '[might]' appear that he was condoning a particular religion."
- The U.S. military ordered soldiers to take down a steeple and board-up the cross-shaped windows of a chapel at remote Forward Operating Base Orgun-E in Afghanistan. The soldiers were required to keep the chapel religiously neutral. In 2011, a similar situation occurred where soldiers were forced to remove a cross at a chapel at Camp Marmal, Afghanistan.
- After going undercover, U.S. Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) determined that the Houston National Cemetery was preventing Christian prayers from being said at military funerals. Culberson stated that he had "witnessed volunteer members of the honor guard from the Veterans of Foreign Wars being prohibited from using any references to God."
- Army Master Sergeant, Nathan Sommers, was punished for serving Chick-fil-A sandwiches at his own promotion party in honor of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Sommers was investigated, reprimanded, threatened with judicial action, and given a bad efficiency report.
I stand with the many service members who have been threatened or punished simply for sharing their religious beliefs. I hope you will take a stand as well. Please contact the Baton Rouge Advocate and Jordan Blum and encourage them not to let PolitiFact do their reporting for them.