FRC: Air Force Secretary Nominee Must Address Serious Religious Liberty Violations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 19, 2013
CONTACT: J.P. Duffy or Darin Miller, (866) FRC-NEWS or (866) 372-6397

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee held confirmation hearings on President Obama's proposed Secretary of the U.S. Air Force Deborah Lee James, and his proposed Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Maj. Gen. Jessica Garfola Wright.  

Family Research Council (FRC) President Tony Perkins, a Marine Corps veteran, praised members of the Committee for raising issues related to religious freedom with both nominees.

Of today's hearing Perkins said: 

"One of the biggest challenges that Ms. James will face if she is confirmed as Secretary of the Air Force will be to address restrictions on religious expression that have become widespread in the military, particularly within the Air Force. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) referenced those restrictions with Ms. James in the lead up to today's hearing, and Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) specifically questioned whether she supported imposing curtailments on an Airmen's religious speech or the ability of a Chaplain to pray according to his faith's particular tenets.

"James's hearing offered the Senate a chance to begin seeking honest answers about what the Air Force plans to do to protect the rights of U.S. airmen around the world. What kind of policy guidance will she give so that commanders don't discriminate against men and women of faith?  

"The Committee must continue to seek answers and solutions from Maj. Gen. Jessica Garfola Wright on similar issues. As the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, she will be a particularly relevant player in the religious freedom debate, since she will be the official interfacing with the Chaplains' Corp and overseeing other staff policies. Today, Ranking Member James Inhofe (R-OK) expressed his concern over religious restrictions that have occurred under her tenure as Acting Under Secretary.  It is vital that Committee members get Maj. Gen. Wright on the record in favor of the religious rights that our troops are fighting to protect," concluded Perkins.

Last week, Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jerry Boykin, executive vice president of the Family Research Council and other members of the Restore Military Religious Freedom Coalition (RMRF) met with senior U.S. Air Force officials at the Pentagon to discuss the escalation of religious liberty infringements not just in the U.S. Air Force but across the military. He also delivered nearly 220,000 petitions appealing to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to protect the religious liberties of service members, and to stop the persecution of and possible legal action against Senior Master Sgt. Philip Monk at Lackland Air Force base. 

RMRF was launched in July at a Capitol Hill News conference. RMRF released a new report at the news conference documenting dozens of religious liberty violations in the U.S. military. Additionally RMRF launched a new website,, to support religious liberty in the military.

Sen. James Inhofe will join Tony Perkins on his radio show, Washington Watch, tonight during the 5 p.m. Eastern hour to discuss the hearing. To listen, visit


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